Fire Training

First responders triage acting victims during a mass casualty training on Wednesday night in Hermiston.

A tip of the hat to the agencies that took part in the multi-agency drill Wednesday in Hermiston.

The full-scale exercise was hosted at the Umatilla County Fire District 1 Station 23 on Westland Road, but the simulation focused on the intersection of Cooney Lane and Umatilla River Road.

The simulation was a bus with 12 people on board crashing into a train carrying gallons of toxic fumigant at dusk.

“Coordination is the biggest part of this,” said Dean Marcum of the Oregon Health Authority, who directed the exercise. “Everybody plays and activates their emergency operations plans to see how everything works and if everyone is coordinating together.”

Multiple local health care and public safety agencies, including the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office, Umatilla Fire District 1, Lifeways and Good Shepherd Health Care System, were involved.

Drills like this are important, Marcum said, because a number of different chemicals are transported through the Umatilla County area by truck and are often unlabeled.

Marcum estimated the cost of the exercise at $20,000 and was made possible with grant funding from the Umatilla County Local Emergency Planning Committee, which develops an emergency preparedness plan and informs citizens about chemicals.

The multi-agency drill represents the prudent pre-planning of local emergency services personnel.

A kick in the pants to the legislative officials who approved $96,000 to allow Lore Christopher, the former human resources director for the Oregon Legislature, to work from home for the first eight months of 2019. The deal was contigent on Christopher’s consent to a quiet exit last fall amid intense public scrutiny over workplace harassment in the Capitol.

Legislative officials would provide only limited information about what Christopher accomplished in those months. They did release records showing she spent hours responding to emails, making phone calls, compiling a salary survey and doing “media research.” Asked what Oregon taxpayers got for the $96,000 paid to Christopher, Legislative Administrator Daron Hill responded that she was “compensated for work performed.”

There are so many questions that linger over this episode it is difficult to know where to start. Bottom line is voters deserve a better explanation from legislators about this incident.

A tip of the hat to Sue Long-Hosek and her husband, Ron, who have started the Conrad Skinner Veterans Memorial Program, with the goal of acting as a “stopgap” for veterans and their families in Umatilla, Morrow and Union counties if they have needs that aren’t being met by other organizations. The new nonprofit will announce specific services they have in mind at a Veterans Appreciation Dinner cosponsored by the new nonprofit, American Legion Post #37, Greater Hermiston Area Chamber of Commerce and Hermiston parks and recreation department. The dinner is on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 3 p.m. at the Hermiston Community Center, 415 S. Highway 395. Helping veterans and their families get the help they need is something everyone can support.

A kick in the pants to Democratic legislators who subverted the will of the voters by narrowing the definition of aggravated murder. Oregon residents voted to reinstate the death penalty in 1984, but a series of actions by elected officials (former Gov. John Kitzhaber’s moratorium in 2011 and Gov. Kate Brown’s continuation of it) have eroded the will of the people. Now, an apparent unintended consequence of the new legislation that redefines aggravated murder is that it would retroactively impact numerous murder cases in which the culprit has already been tried and convicted. This is the opinion of the state Justice Department. Brown and the Legislature had a responsibility to fix the loophole in this flawed law through a special session. But that apparently will not happen as legislators in the House do not have the votes to make the necessary fix. Ultimately, the questions raised by this flawed legislation should be put before the voters.

A tip of the hat to the news Pendleton’s newest fire station is up and running. The department held an open house Thursday, and then gave tours to interested people of the new facility.

Another open house is set for Saturday and we encourage anyone who can attend to do so. The fire station represents the latest investment in taxpayer dollars and area residents should take a little time to visit the facility.

The station also symbolizes why investing in public safety is so important. So if you can, swing by and check the new facility out.

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