PRESS RELEASE: February 02, 2012
MERGING HAZMAT AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT EXPERTISE
The Hunterdon County Department of Public Safety announced today a streamlined organization for responding to emergencies involving hazardous materials. The improvement is a result of the recent merger of the county health department into the department of public safety.
"Our goal is clear: To rapidly respond to situations anywhere they occur in the county, and to quickly get experts to the site with proper equipment for immediate containment and correction," said George Wagner, director of public safety in Hunterdon County. "When it comes to hazardous materials, acting quickly and decisively are musts."
Merging the county health department into the department of public safety creates a shared service within the county government. Members of the former health department serve on the Hazardous Materials Response Team operated by the division of emergency management, which itself is a unit within the department of public safety. Before this merger, both health and emergency management divisions were required in order to cover all operational and administrative tasks. Now, through staff cross training, the emergency management coordinator and deputy coordinators can address administrative responsibilities performed earlier by health department responders, including incident reporting and coordinating activities with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
"The new combined model adds depth to the HAZMAT services we provide while keeping costs in check," said Brayden Fahey, emergency management coordinator. "By broadening our expertise and joining resources, we're improving our overall response capabilities."
Pete Enea, registered environmental health specialist and HAZMAT team member agrees. "The team now has a deeper pool of qualified staff to serve as duty officers when a hazardous material spill occurs or we are called in by the DEP. We're also more capable to address emergencies that involve simultaneous calls."
To learn more about the county's hazardous materials response team, see http://www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/911/oem/hazmatteam.htm.