White Squirrel Weather Staff Attends FEMA Training Event
- Josh Durkee
- Friday, March 10th, 2017
On February 21-23, 2017 the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) hosted their advanced workshop, “Enhanced Sports and Special Events Incident Management” at WKU. The focus of the event was to gain certified FEMA training for emergency response and management for various large-scale incidents and potential hazards during sporting or other special events with high-volume crowds.
The workshop was coordinated by Dr. David Oliver from the WKU Department of Environmental Health and Safety in conjunction with WKU Athletics, WKU Meteorology, and various local and regional emergency management and responder groups. Topics ranged from human-caused incidents to natural disasters.
Dr. Josh Durkee, Associate Professor of Meteorology and Climate Science Research and Director of White Squirrel Weather (http://wkuweather.com) stated, “I was pleased to hear the TEEX group repeatedly acknowledge the spectrum of weather hazards facing WKU.”
The National Weather Service in Louisville recently determined that an EF-1 tornado with maximum winds near 110 mph struck just 10 mi from WKU in Warren County on March 1. This was one of more than 20 tornadoes that have been documented for Warren County over the years.
“WKU has experienced weather hazards from all four seasons, including oppressing summer heat, crippling winter ice and snow storms, and warm-season severe storms that bring frequent lightning, damaging hail and wind, tornadoes, and floods,” Dr. Durkee added. “These events have been quite impactful at times for WKU operations and our campus community.
Jonathan Oglesby, Visual Design and Science Communicator for WKU White Squirrel Weather and the Department of Environmental Health and Safety added, “The take-home message from this workshop was, events are planned and accidents/incidents are not. The FEMA workshop challenged us to handle large-scale incidents with accurate and timely communication flow. This experience has emphasized my mission as a science communicator at White Squirrel Weather to convert complex weather information in easily digestible formats for everyone at WKU to consume.”
The workshop highlighted the need to remain proactive with building team decision-making, management, and communication skills, in order to mitigate potential hazardous outcomes. The TEEX group also stressed the importance of leveraging infrastructure and expertise for the best possible plans of action, particularly for daily university operations and special events that bring together large crowds, including athletic events, graduations, and other special events throughout the year.
“The impetus for White Squirrel Weather is to provide a robust StormReady® University operation for WKU in the interest of improved health and safety for the campus community and the events herein,” added Dr. Durkee. “I am thankful for being able to attend this important workshop to better-understand and learn how weather plugs into the emergency management system at WKU and how I can contribute to that mission.”
For information, contact Josh Durkee at (270) 745-8777.