Emergency Response Capacity in Louisiana: An Expert's Perspective

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) is responsible for protecting the citizens of the state and its environment. To do this, they have regional offices located in Baton Rouge, Harahan, Bayou Lafourche, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Alexandria, Monroe and Shreveport. These offices are staffed with ten specially trained first responders who are on duty 24/7 to respond to any emergency situation. In addition to these teams, other personnel in the Department are also capable of performing emergency response tasks. The initiative that formed these teams has resulted in an improved emergency response capacity for the LDEQ.

Schools in Louisiana are also responsible for the safety and care of students during emergency situations. All LEAs (Local Education Agencies) are encouraged to designate a point of contact for emergency preparedness and recovery. This contact is responsible for entering and maintaining emergency preparedness and recovery information for their LEA. In the event of an impending emergency, the LDOE (Louisiana Department of Education) will contact the designated emergency preparedness and recovery representative to remind them to complete and maintain the emergency preparedness and recovery panel. The Emergency Management Department of East Baton Rouge Parish has a training program in direct coordination with the state of Louisiana that includes all government offices in the jurisdiction, as well as private sector and volunteer organizations. The training program identifies threats, hazards, and risks, along with other internal and external factors, to influence preparedness priorities and to outline preparedness activities.

The Emergency Management Institute offers self-paced courses designed for people who have emergency management responsibilities and for the general public. The Incident Command System (ICS) is a component of the NIMS (National Incident Management System) and is a standardized approach to the command, control and coordination of emergency response. It requires the preparation and maintenance of a parish plan for emergency operations for all hazards that includes response measures, hazard identification, assistance catalogs, chains of command and intergovernmental coordination. The office develops and maintains a current Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) for the state of Louisiana that provides for the response, assistance to local officials, the coordination and organization of response activities, and the coordination of any federal response. LDEQ first responders maintain a close working relationship with the Emergency Services Unit (ESU) of the Louisiana State Police to respond to incidents involving hazardous materials. Louisiana requires all public elementary and secondary schools to prepare, maintain, and implement a crisis management and response plan to help ensure that all students, teachers, and school employees are in a safe facility and prepared to respond in the event of an emergency or disaster incident. The Emergency Response Section under the Office of Environmental Compliance is tasked with complying with this obligation.

Public health, medical care and emergency medicine services increase the capacity of East Baton Rouge Parish to provide lifesaving medical treatment through emergency medical services and related operations. Louisiana's disaster recovery ministry has been reconfigured several times throughout the response to meet current reconstruction needs. The REMS Technical Assistance Center website contains free resources, training, and technical assistance (TA) for schools and their community partners. Under the authority of the governor, the GOHSEP (Governor's Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness) is responsible for national security and emergency preparedness. The 6-step Access Readiness & Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) process helps create plans to continuously build & promote safe & healthy school communities before, during & after potential emergencies. The LDEQ is authorized by the Environmental Quality Act to provide an immediate response to any environmental problem or emergency incident that threatens human health or the environment. This ensures that all citizens are protected from any potential harm caused by environmental issues or disasters.

Mariah Samudio
Mariah Samudio

Wannabe social media lover. Certified internet maven. Total beer geek. Hipster-friendly travel evangelist. Lifelong beer buff.

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