Madison County Emergency Management/Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program Collaborates with EKU Community

by Kelley McBride, public information officer at Madison County EMA/CSEPP

The Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP) was authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1985 to provide emergency preparedness and “maximum protection” to communities near chemical weapons stockpiles in the unlikely event of an accident or incident involving the stockpile. FEMA and the Army implement CSEPP, with FEMA providing support to state and local officials. FEMA continues providing  support to the communities until the Army completes the destruction of the associated installation’s stockpile.

From the original nine CSEPP sites, only two remain:  Pueblo, Colorado and Madison County, Kentucky. For decades about 2 percent of the United States’ supply of chemical agents has been safely stored in special bunkers, called “igloos,” at the Blue Grass Army Depot. The safe destruction of the chemicals is estimated to be complete around the year 2023.

Madison County EMA/CSEPP has enjoyed a partnership with EKU faculty and students for several years now.  This relationship does not go unnoticed.  FEMA is very encouraging in our efforts to establish and continue a relationship with local higher education institutions. In fact, our events and collaborations are included in annual reports to Congress.

EKU President Michael Benson was the first sitting president of the university to visit our Emergency Operation Center when he arrived in Richmond. Throughout the academic year, we partner with numerous departments and student organizations. We have presented CSEPP information to groups of RAs in their residence hall orientation training and to freshmen orientation classes. We regularly invite students to our facilities for exercises. Our agency enjoys a very healthy professional relationship with EKU Emergency Management. We seek to continue that partnership throughout the life cycle of the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program in Madison County.

In addition, our organization has partnered with the EKU Department of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing for 10 years. Instructors have added visits and tours of our facilities for their students each year for special presentations, and the students have served as mock “patients” and in other volunteer positions for our annual federally-graded CSEPP Exercise each fall. We, in turn, support them in their community outreach events.

Faculty in other degree programs such as Homeland Security, Criminal Justice, Emergency Management, Environmental Health Science, and Fire Protection have invited our staff to present to their classes. Many students in these disciplines have also participated in other types of exercises and tours, and have even provided evaluations of our facilities as class projects. We have even conducted mock emergency management exercises with students and faculty from the EKU College of Justice and Safety.

The partnerships continue to grow. In Fall 2015, Madison County EMA/CSEPP collaborated with EKU Emergency Management and the Student Society of Professional Journalists to host a mock press conference on campus providing students a taste of what it might be like to cover such an event.  At the podium to answer questions from student “reporters” were the Blue Grass Chemical Activity Commander, the Public Information Officer from Kentucky Emergency Management, a Deputy Director of Madison County EMA, and EKU’s Chief External Affairs Officer.

We are proud to share our professional knowledge with EKU students, faculty and staff. The lessons we learn from them are valuable to our organization as well.

Published on May 25, 2016