Every time a significant weather event is predicted, Concord stays on top of preparations.
Town departments meet to make plans, said Fire Chief Tom Judge. Fire, Police, Council on Aging, Public Works: You name it, they talk. What services are needed? Does the town need to open a shelter? How can people get there?
Concord avoids one of the major issues facing other municipalities, he said: Concord Municipal Light Plant can usually restore power in a matter of hours, instead of the days a large utility may take to get the juice flowing.
Communication is key to avoiding bad outcomes.
Vulnerable folks in town need power for medical devices. The 911 center maintains information on “folks we need to go check on,” he said.
While it has never happened in Concord, if a large-scale evacuation is needed, the COA bus could be called into service to pick up those who cannot drive.
Before a predicted event, the state Department of Public Health sends a waiver to emergency medical service providers, allowing them to legally transport people by ambulance without going to the hospital. Usually, only transport to a hospital is allowed, Judge said.
“It wouldn’t shock me if we ever had to use it,” he said. For example, a neighborhood might be cut off with no utilities during a large snowstorm.
The Council on Aging maintains a list of the most vulnerable people and all staff have access to it, said Eileen Bogle, the acting director, so “we can [make contact] pretty efficiently.” She urged people to make sure the information the COA has on file is up to date.
Making sure residents are aware of what might be coming and how to prepare is part of the town’s effort.
The Fire Department does a lot of notification with safety suggestions on social media, Judge said. “We do push that information out in the moment and in the days leading up to the predicted event.”
In an emergency, they are able to put out a reverse 911 call to homes in a geographical area.
Proactive Concordians, residents and businesses can sign up for CodeRED notifications on the Concord Police Department’s webpage.
Public safety also uses old-fashioned in-person connections. “In every town department, we encounter people all day long,” Judge said.
“If anyone encounters a senior in need of [non-emergency] service, an email gets put out to every relevant department.”
For non-emergencies, a response usually comes within minutes, if the email goes out during regular business hours, or first thing the next day.
A well-being check or visit from a service provider might identify someone who needs smoke alarms. A firefighter can buy them at the hardware store and install them. Finding several receipts on his desk from over a weekend is a usual thing, Judge said.
The Fire Department has issued safety tips for the heating season. Their advice is available at theconcordbridge.org.