John Rahaim, St. Bernard Parish Emergency Manager, spoke to participants during a Critical Transportation Needs (CTN) and Special Medical Needs (SMN) exercise. These programs are designed to assist those in need of transportation during an evacuation and cannot self-evacuate due to lack of resources, transportation or medical conditions. According to Rahaim, “to be successful, it takes more than just parish personnel. Support also comes from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Louisiana National Guard and Air Guard, United States Coast Guard, Louisiana Department of Transportation Development (DOTD) American Red Cross, Acadian Ambulance, St. Bernard Parish Hospital, St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office and our local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).”
For this exercise, our parish buses pick up evacuees and bring them to the Parish Pick-up Point (PPP). Upon arrival at the PPP they will be processed by the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office and the Air National Guard to insure that no weapons, alcohol or other contraband are brought in. “The safety of our residents and workers is of utmost importance”, said Rahaim.
The evacuees will be registered using the Phoenix Evacuation Registration System provided by DCFS. This system maintains accountability of our evacuees from the time they are registered until they arrive at the shelter location. Processing is done by parish personnel from Community Development with assistance from DCFS personnel. Once registered, evacuees then report to a waiting area. Once all evacuees have been processed they are loaded on buses by Parish employees and DOTD personnel. The buses that transport our evacuees are provided by DOTD. The evacuees are then transported to a pre-designated shelter.
This exercise was used to test our capabilities, streamline procedures, address gaps in resources and to identify areas of improvement. This will help us to better serve our residents in the future should the need arise.