@hedtb36:Oxford area municipalities forming emergency group

@heds:Only Lower Oxford declines to join

@by:By Chris Barber

@bod:Oxford borough and the surrounding townships are on the brink of forming an emergency management team, similar to the Avondale-West Grove organization known as Agrem -- or Avon Grove Regional Emergency Management.

This group, to be called Oxrem will include all of the municipalities in the Oxford school District except Lower Oxford, which, at a recent meeting declined the invitation.

Chuck Freese, one of the prime movers of Oxrem and emergency management coordinator of Agrem, said the group has representatives of all the municipalities and is capable of responding to emergency that occur on a large scale level like floods, tornados, extreme weather, plane crashes, extended power outages and mass medical needs -- like an anthrax threat.

Freese said the advantage of forming such a group is being able to provide ongoing staff and shared resources in the townships. It can also coordinate rescue sites and emergency transportation systems. Oxrem, like Agrem, will have a list of physical and human resources that can be mobilized to cover a large area. "We have people ready all the time," he said.

Freese added that a regional response group also establishes a venue for donations like communications systems, defibrillator units and the like.

John Reynolds, chairman of Oxrem, said the advantages of having a regional response group are, among other things, the ability to share local resources, taking the burden off the single municipality; assistance from local emergency managers; and the ability to use other local staff to supplement or relieve staff in case of extended incident or lack of personnel.

The Lower Oxford supervisors have said they are not ready to join the group, but they might consider it again later. By choosing not to join, Reynolds said they will be missing out on joint training and review plans by other emergency management groups; knowledge of what resources other agencies can provide; and established sharing arrangements with facilities in the area such as churches and school buildings, that would relieve the risk of overcrowding during a large incident.

Oxrem is run by the local emergency management coordinators in the Oxford school district with input from other interested parties such as the school district, Lincoln University and religious organizations.

When they are not responding to emergencies they meet to review and update local plans, hosts speakers from agencies such as the Red Cross, Chester Water Authority and others. The members also attend and provide training for the group locally.

There is no cost to the municipalities for joining, but the requested annual fee of $200 ($100 for 2009) is to build the finances to obtain items that may be needed and used by emergency management in times of emergencies to be used by all municipalities or member groups.

The current members of the group are Oxford Police Chief John Slauch, Freese, Reynolds, Blair Fleishman of Upper Oxford, Roger Madron of the Oxford school district and Rev. Dan Bodine.

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