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Date of Issue: March 16, 2006

Plan ahead: Emergency Center looks at hurricane season

Representatives from the Island government agencies have begun planning for the 2006 hurricane season. At an Island Emergency Operations Center meeting March 8 at the West Manatee Fire and Rescue Station No. 1, several topics were briefly discussed.

Bradenton Beach Police Lt. John Cosby commented on the wrist bands Sarasota County plans to distribute if access to barrier islands is restricted because of hurricane damage. Residents of restricted areas can get through police roadblocks with the wristbands. This system would replace the current use of re-entry tags for vehicles.

Cosby said plans are still in the infancy stage and questions remain to be clarified, such as determining who gets a band? Adults or everyone in a family? Also, when are the bands issued, as you evacuate? If so, what about Longboat Key residents who evacuate through Manatee County? How do they get a wristband?

Cosby said he will keep the group informed as he learns more and, if the system is tested and works well in the neighboring county, it might be something to consider here.

WMFR Chief Andy Price notified the group that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is now requiring all Emergency Operation Center mid-level management employees to complete an additional course which can be done through the Internet.

Deputy Chief Brett Pollock of WMFR reported that first-in teams, those who are the first to respond back to the Island after a disaster to clear debris and open roads, will no longer be overseen by the Florida Department of Transportation. The Fire Chief Association will now manage deployment.

The IEOC will meet again at 11 a.m. April 19 at WMFR Station No. 1.