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      Emergency response agencies plan ahead for hazmat incident

      The Panhandle Regional Planning Commission is reviewing their emergency procedures to prepare for a hazmat emergency.

      "Each of our county emergency operations plans has a full list of all the hazmat facilities within their jurisdictions," said PRPC Regional Services Director John Kiehl. "A good number of those lists also contain materials that are produced or handled within those facilities."

      They also have a communication system to notify residents of a potential threat.

      "They're all prepared to notify their residents in the event of a hazmat incident, if they need to get people out of harms way they can send out a mass notification," said Kiehl.

      In the case of a catastrophe, PRPC said there is an abundant supply of first responders.

      "As a region we have a number of well-trained search and rescue teams that can go in and try to find survivors in the aftermath of such an event," said Kiehl.

      Non-profit organizations like the American Red Cross step in behind the scenes to assist in hazmat emergencies.

      "We could offer services like opening up a shelter and receiving site," said Red Cross Coordinator Steve Pair. "If there's an evacuated area of people who need a place to go while emergency first responders get that area cleaned up, we could facilitate that."

      They also provide support for first responders serving in the line of duty.

      "We could also offer some canteening services for the first responders who are out there trying to clean up that spill," said Pair. "We could make sure fire fighters have water and food and what not that they needed to help in their cleanup efforts."

      R ed Cross volunteers and shelter sites are a resource for residents in need.

      "We have more than 150 volunteers throughout the Panhandle, we have a lot of good shelter sites throughout the Panhandle, signed agreements ready to go ," said Pair. " So I know that we would stand ready to respond and be there for our community."

      For more information on PRPC, visit http://www.prpc.cog.tx.us/.

      For more information on The American Red Cross, visit http://www.redcross.org/.