Exeter will soon have a mobile command center to use in responding to emergencies after the township's board of supervisors approved the purchase of a 26-foot Federal Emergency Management Association travel trailer at its Jan. 14 meeting.The trailer had been surplus from those sent to the south for hurricane response and never used. Exeter's Emergency Management Agency Coordinator H. David Miller said the trailer will provide a place for incident commanders from police, fire, hazardous materials cleanup and other services to organize a response to an emergency.
Supervisors Chairwoman Dona Starr voiced her support of the idea, recalling that when some township residents faced flooding, the township building was used as a command center, leaving a gap between the organizers and the incident scene.
"I think we could have had a quicker response if we had something like this," she said.
Besides incident command, the trailer can be used for demonstration at community events, like May Days. Exeter has used the county's mobile command center at events in the past.
After coordinating the emergency response to a recent stabbing incident at Antietam Middle-Senior High School, Police Chief Christopher Neidert sees the logic of having a mobile command center.
"I had five news helicopters over my head. I couldn't hear myself until we got the air space cleared," he told the board. "Getting out of the weather is a major factor in the snow and the heat."
In addition to supporting the investment in the trailer, Neidert thanked the board for the investment the township has made in police training, particularly the live shooter training that prepared his officers for the incident at Anteitam.
Nine Exeter officers assisted the Central Berks Regional Police and Neidert took command at the incident.
"The money you spend on training, right there, came to full benefit," he told the board. "Our guys performed to the 'T,' just like they did in training. We went in there and knew exactly what to do and got those kids out safely."
The board also adopted the county's emergency operations plan, which outlines how municipalities and emergency services respond to and recover from emergencies.
In other business, the board authorized the parks and recreation department to being work on basketball courts at Exeter Community Park. Crews will replace the backboards and poles and reseal and paint the courts at an estimated cost of $17,500, which was included in the 2008 budget.
The board also discussed possible improvements to the Reading Country Club entrance and the installation of a traffic control device at the intersection of Stonetown and Rugby roads.
Highway Superintendent Clarence Hamm told the board that, with the removal of one or two trees and the relocation of a utility pole, improvements could be made to the country club entrance to eliminate the existing hard turn into the driveway and improve sight distance at the entrance.
"The turning radius can be improved quite a bit," he said.
Hamm also asked the board to consider installing a flashing yellow warning light at the intersection of Stonetown and Rugby roads, which he called one of the worst intersections in the township. The intersection is on a sharp curve and at least once a year, and sometimes two or three times, a car crashes into the guard rail.
The guard rail costs $3,000 to $4,000 to replace per incident, which is sometimes paid by the motorist if the driver doesn't flee the scene.
"With people driving through there at excessive rates of speed at wee hours of the morning, at least with a flashing light maybe it might save a life," said Township Engineer Joseph Rogosky. Rogosky also recommended supplemental pavement markings.
Supervisors Lisa Ciotti called for an executive session involving litigation related to the issue. Afterward, the board asked Hamm to get pricing on both the proposed signal at that intersection and the improvements to the country club entrance.