Getting to know local government Long-term safety planning is a city priority

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Fire, EMS and police keep residents safe on a day-to-day basis, while three additional groups oversee long-term safety planning. (Press photo by Austin Greve)

By Molly Moser

The Guttenberg police department, fire department and EMS manage the day-to-day safety and emergency needs of residents, but there are three additional groups that oversee long-term protection planning in case of natural disasters, safety training for city employees, and 911 communications. 

Emergency Management Agency: All cities throughout Clayton County are supported by the Emergency Management Agency (EMA), which provides Emergency Support Functions (ESF’s) and is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plan to provide logistical and resource support to county and local community agencies during the response and recovery phases of an emergency or disaster. Mayor Bill Frommelt represents Guttenberg in the EMA, and countywide Certified Emergency Manager is Sarah Moser.

“In order to respond to disasters, it is extremely important to have a plan and process in place in case a disaster strikes. Documented plans, practice drills and exercises are essential to provide physical resources to clear streets, restore communications and power and provide medical services, food, water and shelter as needed,” said the Mayor. 

The scope of the EMA includes relief supplies, facilities, equipment, communications and personnel required to support immediate response activities and initial recovery efforts for disasters such as a flood, tornado or other disaster. “It is important to remember that Guttenberg is not alone in case of a disaster. Neither was McGregor after the tornado or any other city in Clayton County during floods,” the Mayor explained. “We receive help not only from our neighboring cities and town governments but from civilian resources, such as the Red Cross or Salvation Army or local contractors, as well as from the state and federal governments when needed.”

Guttenberg safety committee: In 1994, the City of Guttenberg established a safety committee consisting of city employee Debbie Eulberg and the public works staff. “We originally held monthly meetings where we developed written safety programs, approved the purchase of a television and VCR, then DVD player, for purposes of monthly trainings. We also applied and were granted monies for the purchase of three automatic external defibrillators, one for a police squad car, one for the municipal building, and the last for the high school during the school year that is moved to the pool during the summer,” said Eulberg.

Safety committee members made sure their safety data sheets (SDS) were up to date for each department. A Safety Incentive Policy was developed, which requires employees to complete monthly safety testing according to each department’s tailored schedule. Each employee who has completed the respective training in a timely fashion is rewarded with Guttenberg retail dollars, or Guttenberg Bucks, unless there is an incident where a doctor or hospital visit is necessary. “Since the safety programs and video library are established and have been updated periodically, the committee has not been meeting,” Eulberg told The Press. City Manager Denise Schneider now serves as the safety coordinator.

Clayton County E911: Fred Schaub serves as the Guttenberg representative on the Clayton County 911 Joint Service Board. Voting members from each community in the county meet quarterly in Elkader to manage dispatch towers, communication radios, and 911 addresses. 

Chad Werger of the Clayton County Sheriff’s Department oversees the board. “Last year, the Clayton County 911 Board purchased two new dispatch consoles through Motorola. The total cost of that project was $285,000. They replaced our outdated dispatch system that was 20 years old,” said Werger. 

“We just finished a project with Motorola and Iowa Homeland Security for Text to 911. This program is great for people who are unable to communicate or for safety reasons can’t call 911; however, if you are able we prefer actually speaking with a caller,” Werger explained. The group is also planning to outfit local fire and EMS vehicles with radio repeaters, which are necessary for long-distance communication throughout the hills of Clayton County.

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