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story.lead_photo.caption Callaway Senior Center Administrator April Redman, standing to the left, shares information Thursday during a roundtable discussion at the end of the September meeting of the Callaway Resource Network. The meeting was led by the county's EMA's Director of Disaster Volunteer Programming Pam Phelps, pictured to the right. Photo by Quinn Wilson / Fulton Sun.

The Callaway Resource Network met Thursday morning to emphasize disaster preparedness.

Pam Phelps, of the Callaway County Emergency Management Agency, presented at the September CRN meeting at the Callaway Electric Cooperative. Phelps serves as the EMA's director of disaster volunteer programming.

"Disasters happen; and they have no awareness of the day of the week, the time of the day, who you are, what you're responsible for and what your plan is," Phelps said.

During her presentation, Phelps outlined the differences between an emergency and a disaster. With September being National Preparedness Month, Phelps wanted to use this platform as an opportunity to build a stronger infrastructure within the community's emergency services.

"The health department just wanted to give a big thank you to everyone who came out today. Things like this can be a big help," Callaway County Health Department Director Sharon Lynch said.

Representatives from numerous area organizations attended to network and offer their various strengths in emergency preparedness. Many anecdotes were shared with the room to emphasize the different ideas that can be brought to the table during a disaster.

"My mom was in a skilled nursing facility during the tornado (in Jefferson City). She said that everyone was moved from their rooms to the large bathrooms, and everyone was given a bell. The bells were for if the building was hit then they could ring the bell so people could find them," said Kate Rollins, community partnerships coordinator with United Way. "Any idea such as this is a potentially good idea."

Phelps also serves as chair of the Callaway County Community Organizations Active in Disaster. This infrastructure is in place to have different organizations in leadership roles to take on various responsibilities during a disaster. The different service branches of the CC COAD are mass care, long term recovery, medical and mental health response, spiritual and emotional health services, agriculture and rural, donations management, and volunteer management.

"Forming a COAD is so that when you have a disaster and you have hoards of stuff coming in, you need people to properly manage those different areas," county EMA Director Michelle Kidwell said.

Phelps said there is currently a vacancy in the mass care services branch, and the COAD is looking to have it filled. Mass care is the service in charge of setting up shelters during a disaster

"If (the EMA) wants to open a shelter, we're the one to open it, but then someone needs to manage that shelter," Kidwell said.

Phelps hopes the American Red Cross will chair the mass care services branch as they have done so before in the past. She urged representatives in attendance to volunteer themselves to chair these branches in need if they felt they possessed the necessary skills.

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