Disaster Times July 2019

5th District Medical Response Coalition

The past several months have been busy for Region 5. Our coalition has sponsored and participated in many events improving our regional preparedness and response. In late March and early April we hosted BDLS and ADLS classes for many of our regional partners. The class was great training for our providers teaching skills in responding to and managing mass casualty incidents. Later in April we hosted a two day Pediatric Disaster Response Course, put on by federal partners in emergency preparedness. The course improved the knowledge base on pediatric disaster response for a diverse group of preparedness personnel. We ended April with participation in a regional hazmat exercise held at the Kalamazoo County fair grounds that brought together multiple agencies, including some of our military partners, in an exercise that tested and trained many personnel in hazmat response. In May, much of our regional personnel attended the three day Homeland Security Conference in Grand Rapids. The conference was an excellent showcase of topics and speakers who are experts in emergency preparedness and disaster response and gave the attendees an opportunity to learn new and emerging information. In June, the 5th District sponsored a three day ICS 300 class for many of our regional partners. The class was a diverse mix of personnel wanting to learn more about the management of large scale incidents. Later in June many of our regional personnel attended the Pediatric Disaster Medicine Conference in Lansing. Great speakers and topics related to the management of pediatrics during disasters helped us all understand and be better prepared for the potential of disasters that may involve pediatric patients. At the end of June several volunteers from around the state participated in a MI-MORT inventory exercise ensuring that our state assets related to mass casualty situations stay up to date and well prepared. We look forward to continuing our work with the regional partners as well as our other coalitions around the state. Thank you for all that you do to keep our region well prepared for any disasters that may affect our area.

Public Health

Public Health providers continue to do a tremendous job in our region monitoring and protecting our counties from public health risks. With the summer months bringing increased county fair and festival activity, our public health partners have been sure to make the region aware of risks of animal- borne illnesses as well as monitoring any illnesses that may have stemmed from large gatherings. Surveillance and reporting continues on Hepatitis A and Measles, as well as the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. All regional partners are encouraged to continue to be vigilant in monitoring and prevention of infectious diseases.

Upcoming Training

Continuing Advances in Special Pathogen Response – Sept. 9, 2019 – Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center - MI-Train ID 1084417

Emergency Management

All of our county emergency managers continue to do great work keeping our region well prepared and ready to respond to any and all potential hazards. Some of the recent training and education related to emergency management in our region includes:

• The state is working on its State THIRA/SPR (Threat Hazard and Incident Risk Assessment/ State Preparedness Report) project and held a workshop with regional Emergency Managers to work on and discuss the regional THIRA.

• State also held a workshop for LEAP (Local Energy Assurance Planning) for Region 5 EM’s.

• Rescue Task Force Train the Trainer was completed two weeks ago and the Region 5 know has a total of 75 EMS/Fire/Law Enforcement instructors with the goal of providing joint training sessions throughout the region.

• A trailer was provided by the 5th District Regional Medical Response Coalition to be used as a Regional Rescue Task Force Training trailer. This trailer will assist in mobilizing training equipment in the region to put on education for Rescue Task Force. Some of the regional equipment purchased to help with this specific training include nine drag dummies purchased by the Regional Homeland Security Board, two gurneys purchased by Branch County Emergency Management and two Skeds were donated by Berrien County and 5DMRC. Additional training supplies are hoping to be purchased through Regional Homeland Security Board.

• The local emergency managers have also supported a project to purchase 10 Portable Data Networks (PDN’s) to support extending secured WIFI signals in times of need for emergency responders.


As we continue to adapt to the changing threats in healthcare, our EMS providers are working to increase their knowledge and capabilities to respond to a hostile mass casualty incident (MCI). On line training is currently underway and many of the regional EMS providers have received MCI kits and plate carriers. Drug bag audits continue throughout the region to ensure compliance and safety with the drug bag return program. Many of our EMS agencies are utilizing EM Track for routine communication with hospitals of incoming patients. This program allows for increased regional visibility of EMS traffic as well as being a great patient tracking tool in the event of a large scale event.


The past several months have been busy for many of the regional hospitals. Lakeland Watervliet Hospital held a mass influx drill in May, testing many of their capabilities and processes to appropriately assess and treat a large volume of injured patients. Bronson Methodist Hospital had an unexpected event that led to shutting down many of the operating rooms while work was done to mitigate the issue. Bronson worked collaboratively with Ascension Borgess Hospital to accommodate the increased volume and continue to provide our region with the trauma and surgical care that is needed. Many of our regional hospitals had accreditation surveys and continue to be certified by the Joint Commission, as well as many specialized accreditations and certifications to provide the best care possible in this region.

Long Term Care

Region 5 long term care facilities continue to do great work in keeping their facilities well prepared for potential events and disasters. At our last quarterly LTC meeting, Sergeant Mike White from Kalamazoo Township Police came and gave a presentation on response to an active shooter. Many long term care facilities have worked with their local law enforcement agencies to do specific training on active assailant response in their facility. We also discussed the importance of our EM Resource platform and how this can be helpful in the event of a large scale incident. Our long term care facilities continue to do a great job keeping up with the many changes in emergency preparedness as it relates to their vulnerable populations

Member Spotlight

Lt. Robert Kirk

Director of the Van Buren County Office of Domestic Preparedness

Lt. Kirk started his career as a Police Officer in 1988 at Paw Paw Police Department. In January of 1991, he joined the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office where he took a position as a road deputy and worked both complaints and traffic. Four and a half years later, he transferred to the Narcotics Division and worked as a narcotics detective for 2 ½ years and was promoted out of that division to road patrol sergeant where he worked for 9 years in the Uniformed Response Division.

He was then promoted to Lieutenant/Jail Administrator in charge of our 153-bed jail facility for 2 ½ years and was laterally transferred back to Uniformed Response Division as Operations Lieutenant for 4 years. After that stint he took another lateral transfer as Detective Lieutenant in charge of the Criminal Follow Up division for 2 years. The position of Emergency Manager position came open and once again he laterally transferred to that position where He is currently assigned as Lieutenant/Director.

Lt. Kirk also spent 20 plus years on the Van Buren County SWAT team with over 15 years as a team leader, then later commander of the team. He was an instructor in firearms, defensive tactics and less lethal spray. Also, a crime scene evidence tech.

“I would consider my current position as Director of the Office of Domestic Preparedness for Van Buren County my most rewarding. I can spend time helping the private and public sectors/partners, communities and citizens prepare for emergencies by assisting them in planning, training, drilling and exercises. Also having Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in your backyard and having to conduct FEMA graded drills and exercises every two years has really helped develop Van Buren Counties overall response to any emergency tremendously.”


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