The Poland Emergency Management Agency is a volunteer municipal department of the Town of Poland, Maine. The department is currently under the official direction of Wayne Cotterly. (Right)

Since 1992, I have served as the agency's Director and for a short time as Assistant Director (1997-2000). This was necessary to meet legal requirements after being elected to the Board of Selectmen. Upon expiration of my term as Selectman, I resumed my position as Director of this agency as of April 27. 2000.

I have served the Town of Poland since 1988 as a member of the Poland Fire Department (5 years), as an EMT for the Poland Rescue Department (9 years), including 3 years as Chief. I have also served on the town's House Numbering & Street Naming Committee for the Enhanced 911 system and the Poland Regional High School Building Committee.

On October 17, 2000, I received my Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) credentials from the Maine Emergency Managers Director's Council. This Certification program is similar to the CEM program produced by the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) but less stringent. I am the first Local EMA Director in the State of Maine to achieve this status.

Poland E.M.A.'s Mission: To minimize the effects of disasters on the lives and property of the people of Poland through the appropriate practice of the four phases of emergency management:

Mitigation

Preparedness

Response

Recovery

 

Wayne Cotterly

 Wayne Cotterly, Director

Poland Emergency Management Agency


History of Poland E.M.A.

The Poland Emergency Management Agency (E.M.A.) has gone through many changes over the past 53 years. In the early 1940's it was known as Civil Defense. Records of any organized activities in Poland during World War II were either not kept, or are missing. The bombing of London created the fear that long-range bombers could attack here in the United States. This prompted the government to create the U.S. Office of Civil Defense in 1941.

The Program enlisted thousands of civilian volunteers to enforce blackouts along the coastal cities to prevent the enemy from accurately hitting targets. Civil Defense was also created to prepare citizens for an attack. People were trained in firefighting, first aid, and rescue of bombing victims from ruined buildings. Though no attacks came to the mainland U.S.A., it is believed that the Town of Poland was somewhat prepared.

 

Poland Civil Defense in the 1950's

After the war, Civil Defense was given to the Army from 1946-1948, and then to a series of different agencies. In May 1951, "not being able to find a man who could spare the time", Viola Lothrop became Poland's first "recorded" Civil Defense Director.

During 1951, a survey was taken of every person in town, and their names were placed on a list. Volunteers were asked for, and quite a few responded to man the observation post in Mechanic Falls. The observation post was part of the Ground Observer Corps. (Operation Skywatch). This was organized to detect low flying intruder airplanes flying beneath the radar coverage. This program was terminated in 1959. A First Aid Class and Emergency Feeding Group was formed. The Emergency Feeding Group was called out to feed 100 men during a forest fire in the Summer of 1950. An Emergency Shelter was created in the basement of the Town Hall, and an Air Raid Whistle was located at the Roger Fiber Co. at Hackett Mills and at Poland Spring.

In 1954, three "test" alerts were held with public participating, and three hurricane alerts also occurred. Two major hurricanes actually hit the Town of Poland. Hurricane "Carol" hit on August 31, 1954, causing downed trees and power outages, and hurricane "Edna" on September 11, 1954, causing flooding, downed trees and power outages as well. Also occurring in 1954, the Emergency Feeding Group remained in a state of readiness. Ten men were sworn in as police wardens, and a short wave radio was purchased for use during power and telephone failures.

In 1955, a new whistle was installed at the Poland Spring Hotel and a siren was installed at Alien's Garage at Poland Corner. In 1956 a whistle was installed at Carbonneau's store in West Poland. Two more "test" alerts were held, one in September. One of these involved the town dump being burned with assistance from the Mechanic Falls Fire Department, Police Reserves, First Aid volunteers, and an emergency feeding group.

In May 1957, the First Aid Mobile Group responded to a field exercise in Auburn and were commended for their work. Also that month, the Town of Poland was threatened by a severe forest fire. The feeding group was mobilized, and provided the firefighters with food and drink. Civil Defense also assisted with the Asian Flu inoculation program. This was under the direction of Deputy No. 3 Dr. John Busch and Irene Stone, R.N.

In 1958, Raymond W. Varrell became director of Civil Defense and Public Safety. During this year, another first aid class was provided with 14 people attending. The organization also took part in a National Alert on May 6, 1958. Two members took a Radar Course in July, and two others took a R.A. C.E.S. Course in October. The term R.A. C.E.S. stands for Radio Amatuer Civil Emergency Services and utilizes the services of HAM radio operators for supplemental emergency communications.

The 1960's

In 1960, Almon L. Keene, Jr. became the next Director of Civil Defense and Public Safety.

During 1961, the town report states that there was a hurricane alert in September, a County Alert in October, and a Radio Alert in November. The radio had been on the air every Wednesday night and background radiation reports were given. Two people took a radio course, and obtained their licenses while two others took courses in radiological monitoring.

During October 1962, a national alert was canceled due to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Civil Defense group maintained a standby status for several weeks until the crisis was over. Radiological readings were taken until December 1, 1962, at which time the town no longer had a control center. The control center was located at Almon Keene's home. An emergency generator was obtained from a surplus property warehouse at a cost of $75.00. Other government surplus equipment valued at $2,730.20 was also acquired at a cost of $153.05 by the town. This included 1 steel desk and chair, 1 filing cabinet, 1 card file, and 1 oxygen resuscitator.

In 1963, Winfield M. Bowie, Jr. became the new Director of Civil Defense. During that year, a new control center was established at the Poland Community Club House at Poland Corner. The organization installed a two bay, clover leaf type antenna, whereby a communications program will cover nearly all of Androscoggin County. Six men received licenses to operate on the R.A.C.E.S. Network and two men completed a Morse Code course. Also during that year, more surplus equipment was acquired by the town.

In 1968, Hartwell Pratt became the next director. The control center was moved to the basement of the Town Hall. During that year, the unit was called in to Lewiston to assist in the preparation for Senator Muskie's Speech. A radio was purchased for the rescue truck so that the unit may be tied in with the Fire Department. The rescue unit assigned to Poland by the County Control was instrumental in relieving much of the suffering caused by accidents of many types.

In 1969, the Civil Defense unit was able to purchase a pickup truck for use by the Road Department. The cost for this unit was $75.00. The Civil Defense Rescue Unit previously owned by the State of Maine was transferred to the County. A new saber type rescue saw was purchased by Civil Defense to aid firemen in prompt extrication of accident victims.

The 1970's

In 1972, the name of the organization changed to the Bureau of Civil Defense. Six members of the Fire Department attained certificates in First Aid and Rescue at a training program held by the County Civil Defense Bureau. The International truck was replaced by the county with a Dodge rescue unit. The town was also provided with a GMC ten wheeler for use by the highway department. A Civil Defense rescue team made up of 11 snowmobiles was organized to assist both the Fire and Civil Defense rescue personnel.

During the 1970's there were several directors of the organizations. These included Jon Loring, Joseph Rakowski, and Richard Chick. In 1979, Linda Lee Kimball became director of the Poland Bureau of Civil Emergency Preparedness. Again, the organization changed its name to better reflect its purpose. During that year, the director, rescue, and volunteer personnel attended a state radiological exercise in May. The bureau was involved in storm effects and storm damage reporting during the winter months of 1978 and 1979, and during the summer storms of August and September. The unit also assisted at the scene ofa light aircraft accident on March 3, 1979, and a submerged vehicle involving a drowning.

The 1980's

From 1980-1985, The Poland Bureau of Civil Emergency Preparedness (BCEP) increased its overall emergency preparations posture. During those years, the Town Manager and Director attended an emergency Management Seminar and a Mini Crisis Relocation Plan Workshop. There was a Statewide Hazardous Materials Exercise held in September that was attended by the Director, Fire and Rescue personnel.

BCEP was involved in storm effects and storm damage reporting during the winter months, and during the summer storms of July, August, and September. An Emergency Operations Plan for the Town of Poland was also revised.

In September of 1985, Hurricane Gloria caused extensive damage at the Tripp Lake Girls Camp as well as the Fairlawn Golf Club House. Most people were lucky to have lost only a few tree limbs. Some were not so lucky, losing many trees on their property. Everyone suffered the effects of power failures that lasted for a few hours to as much as 5 days. The Town Hall was opened as an emergency shelter for townspeople where 10 families took shelter for a few hours.

A garden hose was hooked up to the Town Hall to provide drinking water. After that, the Poland Community School was opened. Announcements were made on WBLM, WCOU, WOXO and Channel 8 advising townspeople of the availability of shelter, water, and phone numbers to call for information. The generator was hooked up at the fire station providing lights and communications for the emergency 911 system.

In 1986, Janice Fitts became the BCEP Director. Monthly "Fan-Out" exercises were completed. The purpose behind these exercises was to disseminated emergency information to town officials as rapidly as possible to respond or prepare for a disaster. Former director Hartwell Pratt remained on as the Radiological Officer. In April of this year, a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Russia had exploded, sending radioactive gas into the air. Radiation levels were monitored daily with no changes noted.

In 1987, BCEP changed its name to the Poland Emergency Management Agency. In April of this year, there were many swollen streams and roads washed out due to a tremendous amount ofrain. During the fall, a spacecraft was due to reenter the atmosphere. No particles of radiation from the spacecraft were detected. An oil delivery truck spilled several gallons of fuel oil at a private residence on Cleve Tripp Road. D.E.P. was notified. An illegal dumping of several drums of Aluminum flax on the Summit Springs Road was also reported. Again, D.E.P. was notified. In May 1988, flooding again hit Poland. The Town was reimbursed by the Federal Government for the damage. In September, the town was under a hurricane watch, with Hugo coming up the coast. Luckily it passed us by.

Poland E.M.A - 1990's and Beyond

In 1991, a new communications system was installed at the new Poland Fire and Rescue Station. This system was complete with the capability of transmitting fire and rescue tone alerts. Dispatching can be done if there is an emergency. This facility became the new Emergency Operations Center.

On March 11, 1992, Poland had heavy rains and was in a flood watch situation. Several roads were beginning to be washed out. No roads were closed at any time. The highway department kept EMA informed so reports could be made to the County.

In July of 1992, Wayne Cotterly became the new Director of the Poland Emergency Management Agency. During that year, several courses were taken on different aspects of emergency management. These included Emergency Program Manager, Disaster Assistance, Hazardous Materials, and Disaster Preparedness. These courses enabled the director to begin the development of a comprehensive emergency plan for the Town of Poland.

In 1996, Several weather events affected Poland. In January, Strong winds knocked down many trees and power lines. In April, heavy rains washed out several roads. The town received a total of $14,501 in federal disaster reimbursement for the damage sustained. Below is a summary of disaster reimbursement from previous disaster declarations:

Rain & Flooding

April

1993

$11, 635

Blizzard

1993

$ 2,869

Rain & Flooding

March

1992

$34,975

Hurricane Bob-

1991

$ 6,283

Rain & Flooding

May

1989

$ 8,578

Rain & Flooding

April

1987

$ 9,383

Ice Storm of 1998

January

1998

$191,888

June Flooding 1998

June

1998

$20,317

Total including 1998

$285,928

During the Summer, the Town of Poland was affected by Tropical Storm Bertha, which dropped over 4 inches of rain on the area. No damage was reported from this storm. In addition, we also were threatened by Hurricane Edouard, though a close call, the storm headed out to sea, and we only received a small amount of rain and wind. For monitoring and decision making purposes, a hurricane tracking program was purchased by the Poland Beano Association. This program gives town officials added information to make decisions when threatened by a hurricane. The program cost was $495.

In June of 1997, Wayne Cotterly was elected as a Selectman, and Town Manager Richard Chick was appointed as Director (in title). Wayne Cotterly was appointed as Assistant Director, and was responsible for the day to day operations of the department. In July of 1997, the department heads were given disaster operations handbooks. These handbooks have been custom made to allow the department head to record activities and expenses during large emergencies or weather events. Included in the books are the department's roster, county resources, telephone numbers, and forms for detailed record keeping.

In 1998, the big one hit! The Ice Storm of 1998, which was the largest and costliest disaster ever to hit the State of Maine. For more on this disaster, click on the link above.

In June 1998, heavy rains fell on the town. This caused many road washouts, and damages in the amount of $20, 317 dollars. This was the second disaster declaration of the year, bringing the total cost for 1998 to $212,205 dollars. Click here for a climate report for the month of June 1998

In June of 2000, Wayne Cotterly was reappointed as Director of the agency.

No one living at the time will ever forget the events that took place on September 11, 2001. The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington changed the world we live in. Since that time, this agency has worked been working on a new Terrorist Incident Annex to the Emergency Operations Plan. This annex outlines information related to a possible response to a terrorist incident here in the Town of Poland. Though it is unlikely such an attack would occur, it is the responsibility of the town to be prepared.

Beginning in October of 2002, the agency began updating the town' Emergency Operations Plan. This update process is expected to take several months to complete.

 

Getting Ready

To determine what kinds of disasters could possibly happen in the Town of Poland, a Hazard and Vulnerability Analysis was developed. Upon completing this analysis, it was determined that there were four significant threats that face the town. These are Winter Storms, Hazardous Materials Incidents, Summer Storms, and Disease Epidemic. Though several other threats still remain, the likelihood of these other events occurring are not highly probable.

Knowing what could possibly go wrong here in the Town of Poland is only the first step. The next step was to develop a Basic Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). This plan predetermines the actions to be taken by the emergency response departments and other town officials in the event of a disaster or large scale emergency. It delineates the responsibilities of each department so that there is little or no duplication of effort. It also explains the four phases of managing emergencies. These include Preparedness, Response, Recovery, and Mitigation.

After completion of the Basic Plan, additional annexes were added over the next several years. These annexes covered more specific planning areas such as Alerting & Warning, Shelterting, Direction and Control, Communications, Emergency Public Information, Damage Assessment, Evacuation, and Resource Management Annex.

Along with these annexes, Standard Operating Procedures, (S.O.P.'s for the Fire Department and Rescue Department have already been included.) At this time, the Emergency Operations Plan is functionally complete, but will require ongoing maintenance. In addition, new threats will be emerging, threats such as Weapons of Mass Destruction or Terrorist Attacks. Planning for these threats is now underway.

As you can see, preparing for a disaster involves more than just responding to the emergency. It involves hours of hard work in planning and preparing for any type of disaster. We do this by taking an "All Hazards" approach. One common misconception regarding the E.M.A. is that our Federal counterpart The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will respond in a matter of minutes with all kinds of equipment and personnel. This is simply not true!

What we all must realize is that this is "Our" problem. and we must respond with all of our resources, before requesting additional assistance. If the emergency is greater than our resources can handle, mutual aid is then requested from surrounding towns, the County, and then the State of Maine If the problem is widespread, the Federal Government will become involved.

Remember, it takes time to mobilize equipment and personnel. For this reason, every person should prepare themselves and their families for a disaster or large scale emergency. The public must realize that they could be on their own for several days without electricity, water, telephone, and the ability to travel.

The Poland Emergency Management Agency stands ready to provide you with the information necessary to prepare for a disaster. Booklets and pamphlets are available at no cost, and can be obtained by going to the Town Office, or can be picked up at Ricker Library.

What will happen in the future? That is anybody's guess. However, The Poland E.M.A. is continually working to prepare the town for disasters. Once the comprehensive emergency operations plan is completed, revising and updating will be necessary to meet changing conditions of a growing community.

Copyright 1997-2002, Wayne Cotterly

Revised: 10/17/2002