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Emergency personnel stay informed for public

By By SARAH HODGES, Staff Writer
More than 200 firefighters and emergency services personnel – most volunteers – from more than 25 counties gathered in Williamston Saturday and Sunday for the Martin Community College 2003 Emergency Services School.
"We have offered this on a smaller scale before," Williamston Fire Chief Jimbo Peele explained. "Before we had 6 or 8 classes but this time we offered 20 classes and we filled 17."
Classes were offered in a variety of areas, many for beginners and intermediate levels. Subjects included arson detection, basic emergency response to terrorism, hazardous materials awareness and emergency vehicle driver certification.
David Humphrey, area one coordinator for the Division of Emergency Management, said events like the school are crucial for emergency responders.
"It is very important they have the opportunity to network with their peers and people from other disciplines," he pointed out. "They need to get the training and see new technology as it is available."
Humphrey said continuous education for emergency personnel is vital, but he believes they are not the only ones who need to stay informed.
"Public awareness (in times of emergency) is more timely than ever right now," he said.
A part of the weekend activities involved educating the group on the Roanoke Albemarle Pamlico LEPC – Local Emergency Planning Committee.
The RAP LEPC is a federally mandated committee that has involvement from local industry as well as community groups, media and emergency responders. The mission of the LEPC,