MACOMB — The first step in a three-year plan for a comprehensive emergency plan for countywide health and long-term care facilities will begin with a tabletop planning exercise on September 25.
Edgar Rodriguez, county emergency services and disaster assistance director, told the McDonough County Board's ESDA committee Tuesday that the second stage in building an emergency response plan will be a series of specific emergency and disaster exercises at each facility. "I'm concentrating on sending the needed information to the community," Rodriguez said.
The ESDA director said that he is working on reviving the McDonough County Emergency Preparedness Committee. It will be comprised of representatives of emergency services providers and interested citizens.
Rodriguez said he would be in Alabama next week for the National Emergency Preparedness Conference. In July, he will attend the Institute of Emergency Management in Maryland.
ESDA is supporting next Tuesday's weather radio session at Hy-Vee Foods from 5 to 6:30 p.m. with the weather staff at WGEM-TV. "Our office will assist anyone who can't afford a weather radio," Rodriguez said. He added that he has been replacing non-functional weather radios in the public schools.
Deputy Director Derek Carle will run the ESDA office when Rodriguez is out of town.
Committee chairman Scott Schwerer asked Rodriguez about a 12-county cell phone outage Sunday when service was down to 911 centers for 24 hours.
"It was a provider problem," Rodriguez answered. "When we get our county emergency service network established, we can provide alternative communications."
Rodriguez also reported that Illinois will catch up on missing the last Federal Emergency Management Agency state grant. He said the state will receive a six-quarter grant instead of the normal four-quarter grant.

Reach Patrick Stout by email at pstout@mcdonoughvoice.com