June 15, 2017
By Ed Byrne The Brillion News
FOREST JUNCTION – The Town of Brillion isn’t looking forward to the next disaster. But it wants to be ready should one occur.
The town board is now working to come up with a comprehensive emergency plan.
The interest in such a plan came after Heather Gibler was elected to the Calumet County Board and appointed to the Local Emergency Planning Committee. Her husband, Levi, was elected to the Brillion Town Board.
“The state has requirements for what counties and municipalities need to do for emergency planning,” Heather Gibler said. “At one of the town board meetings, I had offered to help facilitate some of the planning … to get the town board talking, get them thinking about stuff.”
The town board thought it was a good idea and now it is involved in the process of coming up with an emergency response plan for the township.
Heather Gibler did her homework and developed a packet to help the town board touch all the bases required for writing a local emergency response plan.
“I looked at what some small towns throughout the nation have done,” she said. “I put together a questionnaire worksheet of ‘Who would do what in [different] situations?’”
She said the process includes identifying risks within the town, and cited the explosion at the Didion grain mill in Columbia County as an example of knowing what businesses have risks that could lead to disaster.
“When it comes to emergencies, it’s always a ‘when’ because something will eventually happen,” Heather Gibler said.
The plan will also list community resources available in an emergency and identifies key local players in handling an emergency.
“It gives everybody a starting point, and then it’s not chaos,” she said. “Citizens [should] know where to go and what to do. At the very basic expectations of government, citizens expect the government to step in at an emergency, and it begins with the town, the local level.”
Both Heather and Levi Gibler attended a workshop this spring on underground pipelines.
Most are natural gas pipelines, but others transport a variety of fuels – crude oil to jet fuel.
“If it starts leaking, how are you going to handle that,” Heather Gibler said. “And how are you going to protect the citizens in this area?”
At the pipeline hazard training seminar, Heather Gibler learned that a pipeline leak requires no possible ignition sources, especially electric sparks; no ringing a doorbell; not starting any cars.
“How do you get people out? How do you let them know [to evacuate]? Where do they go? What do you do with them?” Heather Gibler said. “How do you reunite families?”
She said the town has to work with the City of Brillion because many people who live in the town work in Brillion and their children attend school in Brillion.
Gibler said the emergency services already work together well – the Brillion and Forest Junction Fire Departments, the Brillion Police and Calumet County Sheriff’s Department.
“I’m sure they would figure it out, but I think it’s really great to have some of those thought processes, those overviews, take place before something happens,” she said.
Levi Gibler said the town is discussing emergency planning as a part of its monthly meetings.
Please see the complete story in the June 15, 2017 edition of The Brillion News.