If disaster strikes West Jordan, the city has a detailed plan to handle it.
Public Safety Director Ken McGuire says the city is one of the few communities in the Salt Lake Valley that conducts annual mock disaster drills.Yet, City Manager Ron Olson said Tuesday he worries that the response to an actual disaster would be inadequate. "As hard as we've worked at it, I'm not confident we could handle a major activity," he said.
As a result of conducting mock emergency drills, city officials know that West Jordan would require outside assistance if more than 22 people were injured in a mishap within the city.
"They (citizens) have a false sense of security. They don't know our capacity is 20 injured bodies. They keep thinking we can take care of it and we can't," Olson said.
Recognizing the city's limits, McGuire presented the city council with an updated emergency procedure manual.
The book spells out the protocol for obtaining help from outside emergency agencies including the National Guard. It also includes emergency procedures for city departments and the city council. For example, the city manager is the city's designated commander in the event of a significant flood, explosion or hazardous waste spill.
McGuire said the city has two emergency operating centers it can operate - one at Police-Fire Station No. 3 and a mobile unit that can be hauled to any location using existing emergency vehicles.
The mobile unit is equipped with two-way radios, telephones (including cellular models), emergency medical supplies, body bags, special equipment and clothing for handling hazardous materials.
Council members commented that they were comfortable with most aspects of the manual, but Mayor Kristin Lambert questioned the planned use of sirens to notify residents of disasters.
Even if the residents heard the emergency sirens, they would not know what type of disaster the horns were signaling, she said. Lambert suggested using a telephone relay system in which citizens would each have a list of people to telephone in the event of an emergency.