Despite some initial misgivings, all four of the supervisors present at the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday voted to pay up to half the $55,000 cost for an incident command vehicle. The other half is to be paid for with a grant obtained through the emergency management office and part of the county's contribution is to be paid for through fund raising efforts by emergency service professionals and volunteers.
The vehicle will contain emergency response equipment and supplies and pull a trailer containing decontamination equipment. These items have been paid for with federal grants. The primary objective for these federal grants is preparedness to respond to terrorism but the equipment can also be used in a chemical, industrial or natural disaster.
A previous $93,000 grant was provided on a reimbursement basis, meaning equipment had to be purchased before the money was provided through the grant. The county obtained a short-term loan, with the county paying the interest on that loan.
The supervisors plan on having a longer-term loan for its part of the vehicle purchase in order to spread payment out for more than one fiscal year.
Aimee Barritt, Keith Willis and Don Fiser were present at the supervisors meeting on Tuesday to request funding for a low mileage used vehicle already equipped with shelving, lights and sirens.
Ron Wetherell, chairman, said the county owns too many vehicles already. He said that a vehicle is the most costly thing to own for an individual or a government entity because it depreciates rapidly and has insurance costs.
Bud Clow, supervisor, said, "I don't see how a little county can cover everything that could possibly happen."
Terry Graybill, supervisor, said that when you tie the whole thing together, the county is getting a lot of equipment relatively cheap.
Barritt estimated that the county will have close to $200,000 in new emergency equipment purchased recently, with the county spending about $30,000 in direct costs and interest.
The decontamination equipment, including a tent and showers with heated water, and the trailer it is pulled on, have already been obtained and will be used on Saturday in the most massive disaster drill Cherokee County has ever had.
A disaster simulation on Saturday will involve ambulance services, fire departments, law enforcement officers and health care professionals from around the area and as many as 50 volunteer victims. Barritt said 10 to 15 more disaster victims would be good to have.
The volunteers will wear swimsuits under their clothes and go through a decontamination procedure.
The 'victims' will be briefed on their roles prior to the drill and prepared to make the simulation as realistic as possible. Barritt said that the realism of the drill could be upsetting to young children so volunteers should be high school age or older. Those interested should contact Aimee Barritt, Cherokee County emergency management coordinator (225-6721).
The incident command vehicle will be obtained as early as this weekend.