Franklin County emergency management update

Rick Covert
Special to the Charleston Express

Currently there are less than 10 addresses in Franklin County with a quarantine order due to COVID-19. This is a tremendous improvement since around this time last year, when we had upwards of 75 or more residences under directions for isolation.

With a few exceptions, the majority of activities that were put on hold or restricted to maintain social distancing have resumed. This includes required training for emergency responders across the county, who had to follow some very specific guidelines in order to facilitate necessary training.

Our community of emergency responders have performed their jobs extremely well during the past 14 months under some very trying circumstances. Being able to adapt and overcome is an important facet to emergency situations. Even more so during a pandemic that completely altered the way most tasks were performed.

COVID-19 is still out there, but the numbers continue to fall. Even with the availability of vaccines, there is no absolute assurance that another increase in cases couldn't take place. Citizens are encouraged to continue taking precautions that are deemed important for themselves and their families.

Some of the responder training put on hold last year included the annual Arkansas Search & Rescue Academy, which is held on the ATU campus in Russellville. This year the academy has resumed and several members of the Franklin County Search & Rescue team will be in attendance.

Online training has also become big this past year, with many instructional presentations taking place in the form of webinars and Zoom meetings. The Arkansas Division of Emergency Management, the National Weather Service, and some private entities have made effective use of these formats in order to facilitate exercises, daily updates and annual trainings that are vital for the emergency response community. Some of these venues will likely continue to be utilized as a cost-saving measure as travel would not be required for participation. However, due to the nature of the training or particular response discipline, most instructional opportunities will continue to be in person.