Leadership Overland Park Session 5 – City Day – Public Safety

Posted on Monday, April 16th, 2012 by
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Inside Command Center

Day 5 of Leadership Overland Park started out at the City’s Command and Control Center. On a normal day, the center is home to the traffic operation center and other city services, but the center is also designed to be used during any number of crisis scenarios such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack. It was neat to see how prepared they are with a response plan and the technology they have available to help during a crisis. Our class participated in a mock tornado response scenario which was interesting to me since my hometown of Joplin went through the same crisis last year. We split into four groups with each having a different role. My group was in “operations” where we were responsible for answering incoming phone calls from around the city with reports of damage, injuries or looting. We then had to prioritize which calls would get responded to first.

While at the Command and Control Center, we also heard from several of the key people involved in public safety for the City, including Fire Chief Bryan Dehner; Police Chief John Douglass; the City’s traffic engineer Brian Shields; and Public Works Director Doug Brown. Something I didn’t know about the fire department is that each truck has a licensed EMT on board and is equipped with a lot of the same equipment you’d find in an ambulance, so fire trucks are able to respond to medical emergencies, and because they are located all over the City they are frequently the first on the scene. A video shown by Brian Shields was something that got my attention. It was video of multiple traffic accidents taken from cameras mounted on the traffic signals at intersections throughout the city. When you drive our city streets, you subconsciously think that a raised median in the roadway will protect you from cars crossing the median into your lane but that is not always the case as shown in the video. I will definitely be more vigilant as I pass through major city intersections now. While the video showed several wrecks and crashes, it was also noted that the city averages only 5-6 traffic related fatalities each year. Overland Park streets are very safe for the traveling public.

We concluded our time at the Command and Control Center with a walking tour of some of the other protective groups working with the police department. We got to hear from members of the K-9 unit including a demonstration with one of their dogs, the bomb squad and the weapons of mass destruction team. These folks go through extensive training beyond their training at the police academy. The bomb squad and the WMD teams both coordinate with other municipalities and do a lot of behind the scenes work that no one realizes. After meeting with us they were headed to Lawrence to monitor Allen Field House prior to KU’s national championship game that evening.

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