Approximately 75,000 vehicles pass through Hopkins County each day traveling I-30. The I-30 corridor between Little Rock, Arkansas and Dallas, Texas is one of the heaviest traveled roadways for truck traffic in the south. That is just one of the concerns discussed by the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) during an every two month meeting that took place Tuesday, July 24, 2018 at the Hopkins County Civic Center.
Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, LEPCs must develop an emergency response plan, review the plan at least annually, and provide information about chemicals in the community to citizens. Plans are developed by the committee with participation from community members. The purpose of the local committee is to establish a framework for dealing with various emergencies and disasters that can affect the county. According to Hopkins County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Andy Endsley, a plan is in place but that plan is constantly reviewed and expanded to meet the needs of growth in the county.
Members of the committee include representatives from industry, fire, law enforcement, along with public health officials, elected local and state officials, emergency management directors, and media.
The community emergency response plan identifies facilities and transportation routes of extremely hazardous substances. Truck traffic presents the possibility of hazmat events that could affect the area. Recently the county fire department responded to a truck fire on the interstate. The driver did not know what his cargo contained nor did he speak English. Without the information regarding contents, the firemen were at a disadvantage in fighting the fire. Some materials do not react well to water as a means of extinguishing a fire. The fire was contained and extinguished after some time spent in determining the cargo through the trucking company dispatch.
Several industries in Sulphur Springs utilize materials that are considered hazardous and plans are in place to deal with any possible emergency created by the materials.
Description of emergency response procedures, on and off site, designation of a community coordinator and facility emergency coordinators to implement the plan, outline of emergency notification procedures, description of how to determine the probable affected area and population by releases, description of local emergency equipment and facilities and the persons responsible for them, evacuation plans, training program for emergency responders, and methods and schedules for exercising emergency response plans are a part of the assignment carried out by the LEPC.