Hurricane conference getting responders ready

First responders, municipal officials and others confer in a workshop at the 2014 Hurricane and Preparedness Conference at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick, R.I., June 20, 2014. (Photo by Brian Yocono, WPRI-TV)

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency kicked off the 2014 hurricane season Friday with its annual hurricane and preparedness conference.

Representatives from RIDOT, the National Weather Service and city Emergency Management Agencies were among those taking part in the conference at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick.

As part of the collaboration in preparing for disaster, the Urban Search and Rescue Team’s Rescue Operations Manager, John Cagno, was displaying a search camera that allows him to see inside collapsed buildings, under rubble or any tight space to look for survivors of a disaster. “It’s an expensive piece of equipment,” he said.

Cagno and the Rescue Team have seen their share of storms and natural disasters. The conference brings together not just the ideas of best practices to deal with the unexpected on a state scale, but also potential tools: “You might have a company here showing their hardware, and we might look at it and say, hey, that has great application in our environment for this or for that,” said Cagno.

On-the-job experience for the responders comes in the form of severe weather, such as Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Officials from New Jersey were among the presenters, sharing stories of what happened in their Sandy experiences and lessons learned.

Rhode Island State Police Col. Steven O’Donnell also said participants would discuss strategy for debris management, storm surge — and statewide communication. “Those teams work together to go out and move things, and get things out of the way,” he said.

The meeting “allows you to get name and face recognition,” said Cagno. “You come here to talk to different people, you network with them, you get their name, you get to know a little about them, you get to know their capabilities.”

Therefore, not only can the conference help them create better plans of what to do, it gives them a leg up on working together when disaster does strike.

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