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New emergency center ready for use

Life has changed for America since September 11, 2001. And with those changes, come changes in how small towns approach crisis situations.

&#8220Public safety issues have changed drastically since the attacks. Terrorism may not be something we feel affects us here in Greenville, but that is the focus of public safety today in the U.S.,” said Greenville Police Chief Mike Phillips speaking to the Greenville Lions Club on Monday at the Boys and Girls Club at Beeland Park.

Greenville's law enforcement officers and fire fighters have been trained to deal with the possibility of a terrorist attack, Phillips said.

&#8220While El-Quaida is the number one terrorist threat to the U.S., a number of other groups are being monitored and local people are being trained to handle possible situations. We have sent people to New Mexico, Nevada, and Anniston for training in explosives and chemical weapons.”

One thing Greenville and Butler County has plenty of experience dealing with, in the wake of Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, is response to natural disasters.

&#8220We have learned from our mistakes. One of things we learned is we had a need for an emergency operations center here in the city. That EOC is now located right here in the basement of this building,” Phillips said.

&#8220We think this will be a big bonus to our efforts to streamline communications and services during an emergency situation.”

The Beeland Park facility will no longer serve as a public shelter when a natural disaster hits, Phillips said.

&#8220Lomax Hannon College will now serve as the public shelter. Now, city workers will be able to congregate here to eat and also bring their families here to stay, rather than leaving them at home.”

A new, massive generator will provide electricity to the structure in the event of a power outage.

&#8220Many, many factors have to be taken into consideration when planning a center and a program,” Phillips said.

&#8220Duty rosters must be established, plans made for evacuations,

response efforts with the hospital coordinated, keeping lines of communication open as well as possible. As the city grows and expands, we will also need to grow our services to the city.”