This week's edition of Portsmouth this Week, "The voice of Portsmouth Town Hall," featured Portsmouth Emergency Management Agency Director, John King, discussing the "Hotwash" after-action review of the Portsmouth emergency response to Hurricane Sandy, conducted last Wednesday. The purpose of such a review is to identify strengths and weaknesses identified in the Town's emergency response so that they can remedied before the next emergency. A copy of the findings of this review will soon be available to the public online on both the Portsmouth EMA website www.portsmouthemergency.com and the Town website www.portsmouthri.com
The Hurricane Sandy review participants included all Town Department heads, including Town Administrator John Klimm, who was also a guest on the PTW program. Klimm said that he was impressed with Director King's professionalism and the comprehensive nature of the EMA's emergency operation during Sandy, praising the efforts of the Police, Fire and Public Works department and especially the EMA volunteers who helped man the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
One of the major new features of Portsmouth's Hurricane Sandy response was the active involvement of the EMA in a beefed-up system of public information, which included the newly acquired Town Code Red reverse-911 system, an EMA website with a live blog, as well as Facebook and Twitter feeds which provided up-to-date information about the storm's impact on Portsmouth, and also offered the public a means to provide information and feedback directly to the EOC. All of these marked a major improvement over the Town's response to Tropical Storm Irene, last October, King said. He noted that through the Code Red system, The Town was able to reach over 9000 residents inside 17 minutes, which was quite impressive. The increase in public use of the EMA's social media feeds was equally impressive, with Facebook "likes" going from 17 to over 340 during the storm and Twitter "followers" increasing to 93.
Rich Talipsky, the leader of the newly formed Internet Public Information team, joined Director King on the program to discuss his team's function of constantly scanning the web and social media for information and posting updates to the EMA website and social media feeds. Additional volunteers are need to support this operation and Talipsky asked that anyone interesting in joining the team contact John King or the Town Hall to get more information, including the online FEMA courses that provide training to his team.
Director King thought the overall response to Sandy was good, although there is always room for improvement. The public is being asked to make their own assessment of Portsmouth's EMA response by taking an online survey located at http://surveymonkey.com/s/Sandy02871 or from the link on the EMA website.
Portsmouth this Week is a weekly public service television program started by Town Administrator, John Klimm. It airs on Public television (Cox channel 18) on Wednesday ebenings at 7:30 PM. It can also be seen by clicking on the video box above or from links on the Portsmouth Town website www.portsmouthri.com and the Portsmouth Economic development Committee website www.portsmouthriedc.com
How do you think the Emergency Response Went? Your comments invited.