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City Council assesses flood preparation
by Garrett Valenzuela
Dec 10, 2012 | 3289 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sparks Mayor Geno Martini speaks at a news conference Nov. 30 during the county's flood preparation at the Regional Emergency Operations Center in Reno.
Sparks Mayor Geno Martini speaks at a news conference Nov. 30 during the county's flood preparation at the Regional Emergency Operations Center in Reno.
SPARKS — The Sparks City Council commended the efforts of the city’s emergency management team Monday as the the council ratified a resolution that was originally carried out on Nov. 29 prior to local flooding concerns.

Assistant City Manager Stephen Driscoll said in the event of an emergency when the City Council is unable to convene, the mayor has the ability to pass resolutions, which are then discussed and ratified at the following city council meeting. Nevertheless, it allowed the council to openly express their thoughts on the flood preparation done by the Sparks team.

“I was able to attend a few meetings of the emergency planning team and I have to say it was a real eye-opener for what actually goes on to prepare for a flood,” Councilman Ron Smith said.

Driscoll said he “couldn’t be prouder” of the emergency team and their efforts throughout the weekend of flood preparation and Councilman Ed Lawson said he was “quite impressed” with the ability of the team to work efficiently, effectively and timely.

The council tabled an agenda item concerning expenditures related to the flood preparation due to an inability to see exact figures for what needs to be paid. Driscoll said about 1,000 overtime hours were handed out to companies trucking in sand and the city used about 66,000 sandbags during the weekend. The council will address the cost of the preparations at the Jan. 14, 2013 meeting.

The Sparks City Council also decided to begin collaborating with the Nevada Department of Health and its board of directors to begin tackling several issues raised during a data analysis of the county’s Emergency Medical Service system.

Sparks Fire Chief Andy Flock and District Health Officer Joseph Iser informed the council that the Reno City Council and Board of County Commissioners had already agreed to collaboration efforts as well.

After a study done by TriData, Flock said the numbers for the Sparks Fire Department proved to be some of the best in the county, but not good enough by his standards.

“At Sparks Fire Department we are always striving to get better and be faster in our response times. We were at the top of all the agencies under review, but we did not meet the national standard so we still have work to do,” Flock said.

The SFD dispatch center received praise as it was the only dispatch center to process calls in the recommended time of one minute or less. Sparks dispatch averaged 20 seconds to process calls and showed variation between 40 seconds and 55 seconds, depending on the time of day.

Flock said the TriData report offered several recommendations to all agencies and, in regards to dispatch centers, consolidation seems like the obvious solution except “the best dispatch center, Sparks, would likely be absorbed.”  Dr. Iser said the Board of Health, with the approval of city and county governments, has been tasked to tackle the report’s recommendations.

“The report offered 38 recommendations that we feel could be separated into three categories, which we will be working on: fixing dispatch, opening a REMSA (Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority) franchising agreement and ensuring EMS oversight in all city and county government jurisdictions,” Iser said.

Councilwoman Julia Ratti will be working on the project and reporting to the Sparks City Council. She said many of the recommendations need to be discussed at length with floor managers of collaborating governments. Councilman Lawson agreed, saying several issues jumped out at him in reviewing the report, especially concerning the contract with REMSA.

“I have never had so many questions about such a small contract,” he said. “We have so much that we can do with technology but since we don’t share data we can’t track any of that. Something needs to be done.”

Dr. Iser closed by saying the Board of Health, the city governments and Washoe County should be working toward a “unified front” when they begin speaking to REMSA. He said working with REMSA would go much smoother with more collaboration between the three governments.
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