LIMA — If there was just one thing state public safety leaders could say they learned during a meeting of an emergency response task force Tuesday, it would be these people know how to work together.
But there’s not just one quality they observed. There were many, and that is a viewed as a huge asset for the community.
“The fact that people are prepared, that they’re thinking about what could happen. I believe you only have one chance in so many cases, so you can’t screw up, particularly at (Husky's Lima Refinery),” said Thomas Charles, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
Charles was impressed with the planning by members of the Lima Area Security and Emergency Response task force, whose members held an open meeting at the Husky Lima Refinery.
The members include police and fire leaders, along with corporate representatives from the companies in the complex, which also includes Ashland Chemicals, ChemTrade Logistics, Fort Amanda Specialties, General Dynamics, INEOS Lima Chemicals, Marathon Petroleum and PotashCorp. Company leaders explained what their company produced or did, while first responders talked about security measures.
Allen County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Director Russ Decker told state leaders that members of the task force thought of nearly every possible security breach, including a terrorist with a car full of explosives trying to ram his way into the refinery.
The physics were performed to figure out what it would take to stop such an attack, which is the reason large boulders were placed around the entire perimeter of the complex, he said.
Charles was impressed. He said the task force is money well spent. He also said there’s no way of putting a price on the value of preparedness.
“It’s kind of like buying an insurance policy. You hope you never have to use it, but you have it,” he said.
Nancy Dragani, the executive director for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, said even though she has worked with the LASER task force since its inception two weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, she continues to be amazed by the partnership between first responders and the corporate world to make the community safer.
“It’s really one of the best examples of public-private partnership. I think it’s the best in the state, absolutely,” she said.
Dragani said it works because people check their egos at the door.
“They also checked their reluctance to share information at the door, whether it’s industry to industry or law enforcement to law enforcement,” she said.
On top of the public safety aspect, David Mustine, a managing director for JobsOhio, said the task force is a huge asset that is attractive for businesses looking for a place to set up and operate.
“It’s an economic development tool,” he said.
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