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How businesses can prepare for emergency situations

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“Who will respond when things go wrong? The role of business and community volunteers in public safety”  was the subject of a presentation at Cetronia Ambulance Corps in South Whitehall Township.
“Who will respond when things go wrong? The role of business and community volunteers in public safety” was the subject of a presentation at Cetronia Ambulance Corps in South Whitehall Township.

Are your employees ready in case of emergencies in the workplace and local communities?

That was a topic at the “Who will respond when things go wrong? The role of business and community volunteers in public safety” presentation at Cetronia Ambulance Corps on Wednesday in South Whitehall Township.

Hosted by the East Penn and Western Lehigh chambers of commerce, public safety officials from Harrisburg addressed issues on how businesses can prepare employees for emergency situations.

Presentations focused on the importance of engaging businesses in the volunteer community and how businesses can support public safety efforts. Attendees were educated on how they can better prepare a business to handle an emergency situation.

“Today’s EMS [emergency medical services] and police, fire, we’ll be here. … But I can guarantee you that we’re not going to be able to do it 100 percent all by ourselves,” said Larry A. Wiersch, CEO of Cetronia Ambulance Corps. “This is why we brought in representatives from the state to talk about the resources that are available to businesses and community.”

Aaron M. Rhone, EMS program manager for the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, said there are programs for emergency medical technician training that are available to businesses and their employees to get them certified.

“One of the things from a financial perspective for a business, currently in the finance committee is House Bill 1600 which is designed to give businesses a tax break up to 50 percent for allowing your employees to volunteer in EMS programs,” Rhone said.

The bill, introduced in June, would create employer tax breaks for allowing employees to take paid leave to respond to and train for emergency situations. The tax credit cannot exceed 50 percent of a taxpayer’s qualified tax liability.

Rhone said the Department of Health is implementing more programs across the state related to hands-only CPR.

“Not everyone has to be certified to be an emergency responder,” he said.

He said the programs provide a certificate that says that you understand your own family preparedness, basic medical first-aid and basic fire suppression and that it only takes 15 minutes to learn hands-only CPR and to receive a certificate.

“There are multiple options for business leaders to engage their employees and our communities,” Rhone said.

Stephen A. Michelone Jr., individual assistance officer/volunteer agency liaison for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, spoke about disaster recovery for businesses and local communities.

Citing recent events in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California, Michelone spoke about disaster recovery programs, how to implement them in the workplace and community and how to prepare for future catastrophic events.

He said that the state has training programs for businesses and volunteers interested in learning about disaster preparedness and recovery, and how the Federal Emergency Management Agency and PEMA can help.

“Disaster recovery does not happen in short periods of time,” Michelone said. “A lot of people think that within a few weeks after a disaster that things are back to normal. … But in many cases, it’s years.

“Contact your local emergency management agency about how you can get your business and volunteers involved in relief efforts. They can point you in the right direction of where training is being offered.”

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Christopher Holland

Christopher Holland

Christopher Holland is a researcher for Lehigh Valley Business and blogs on arts and entertainment in the region.

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