GREAT FALLS — Community leaders in Cascade County hosted an emergency preparedness forum at NeighborWorks on Tuesday night. The event aligned with National Preparedness Month, which “encourages and reminds Americans to be prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities,” according to the EPA.
Among the organizations participating were the Great Falls Police Department, Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, and Great Falls Fire Rescue. Each of the ten panelists talked specifically about what roles their companies and organizations play before, during, and after a “manmade or natural disaster” occurs.
Megan Syner of the National Weather Service of Great Falls said that the public has a responsibility to stay informed, and events like these are a good step in the right direction.
“It’s very important that the public stays informed with what’s going on in their communities, to stay alert to the different hazards that could affect them and their community,” Syner said. “Also, just to be prepared for all hazards. All hazards can affect our community so it’s important to have things like a 72-hour plan, so that you can sustain yourself for at least three days because it could take that long for help to arrive. It’s important to stay prepared and know what opportunities and options are in your community as well.”
The panelists touched on a variety of topics, ranging from what to do in an active shooter situation to who you should contact if your property is damaged by extreme weather. Organizations like the National Weather Service and Red Cross deal mainly with situations where natural disasters might put people in danger.
The NWS deals with weather alerts and works with local media to keep the public informed when there is extreme or dangerous weather. The Red Cross deals with helping displaced families and people who might need a place to say after a disaster, among other things.
Organizations like the Great Falls Clinic and Alluvion Health help with injured or sick people who may have been affected or even injured in an emergency-level event. Great Falls Fire Rescue, the GF Police Department and the Cascade County Sherriff’s Office are some of the first responders that you should contact in case of an active shooter or other similar emergency situations.
To keep up to date with other public information events like this one, follow KRTV on social media, as well as agencies like the Great Falls Police Department, the National Weather Service of Great Falls, and Great Falls Public Schools.