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Southeast Kansas Counties Prepare for the Worst - KOAM TV 7

Southeast Kansas Counties Prepare for the Worst

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PARSONS, KANSAS -

Southeast Kansas counties are making sure they're prepared for the worst. Officials from throughout the region gathered in Parsons Tuesday, for a tabletop exercise that examines counties' actions plans and resources, in case of an event that results in massive casualties. 

"Every community has a different definition of what a mass fatality is based on the resources they have available to them. We always try to drive them passed what their current capabilities are and challenge them to think, 'What if it was a little bit bigger? How are we going to address those types of challenges? How do you expand into multiple resources that could potentially aid a particular county?'" said Terri Ploger, a preparedness branch director with the Kansas Division of Emergency Management.

The goal of the exercise, organized by the Kansas Department of Health & Environment and the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, was to not only get local governments on the same page in case of a disaster, but also build relationships among counties, which may have to rely on each other in case of a tragedy. 

"It's all about partnerships and relationships. It's resources as well, but it's really not a matter of just resources. It is strongly about relationships," said Ploger.

The Cherokee County sheriff learned about an area in which his county can improve.

"This has allowed us to work with, specifically our local funeral homes and learn about their capabilities and address some of those issues, where we might have a mass fatality event, and see where those gaps are, and look at outside resources should we need them," said Sheriff David Groves.

And the Labette County emergency manager says this event has shown him, his county has a lot of work to do.

"The thing we've learned over our mass fatality planning is, we're not prepared. A mass fatality can be as few as 7 people in our county. What we've learned is what resources our neighbors have and what resources the state has," said Labette County Emergency Manager Charles Morse.

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