Office of Emergency Management
The Linden Office of Emergency Management in partnership with Police, Fire and other Municipal Departments coordinates disaster planning and preparation. In the case of a large scale emergency OEM would likely be the lead agency in protecting the citizens and property of the City of Linden. The local OEM is supported by the Union County and State of NJ OEM's.
The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is centrally located and convenient to all of Linden’s emergency service personnel. The EOC is activated during large scale emergencies or special events. The EOC is a central location for senior officials from the City of Linden as well as other government agencies along with relevant private entities to coordinate response efforts, make decisions and disseminate information. Our old EOC was a used work trailer that was donated to the City of Linden. It was restored and utilized by the Office of Emergency Management from 2010 until just recently. During 2014, we re-located into the old Ambulance Corp building located at 12 N. Stiles St. This is a much better option for us as this building can withstand strong wind and storms and also has ample room to store the various equipment that we have.
The Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) is a separate organization that is chaired by the OEM Coordinator. It is made up of representatives from the Police, Fire, Health, Engineering, Welfare and Public Works Departments as well as members of Linden EMS, the local Red Cross and local industry. It's mission is to identify and mitigate safety concerns within the City, disseminate information to the public, and review emergency operations plans. The committee may also undertake any other effort that they feel may be of benefit to the City of Linden.
Biological agents are organisms or toxins that can kill or incapacitate people, livestock and crops. The three basic groups of biological agents that would likely be used as weapons are bacteria, viruses, and toxins. Biological agents can be dispersed by spraying them into the air, by infecting animals that carry the disease to humans and by contaminating food and water supplies.
Delivery methods may include:
- Aerosols – Biological agents are dispersed into the air forming a fine mist that may drift for miles. Inhaling the agent may cause disease in people or animals.
- Animals - Some diseases are spread by insects and animals such as fleas, mice, flies, mosquitoes and livestock.
- Food and Water Contamination – Some pathogenic organisms and toxins may persist in food and water supplies. Most microbes can be killed, and toxins deactivated, by cooking food and boiling water.
- Person–to-Person - Spread of a few infectious agents is possible in such cases as smallpox, plague and a few other viruses.
In the event of a biological attack, public health officials may not immediately be able to provide information on what the problem is since, due to the nature of most biological toxins, it may take days or weeks, just for any symptoms to appear. Then it may take additional time to confirm what the illness is, how it should be treated, and who is in danger. Due to the time delay, the disease may be able to spread far beyond the initial contamination point and this may make it very difficult to determine the exact point of origin and exactly how it was initiated.
Official news and information including signs and symptoms of the disease, areas in danger, if medications or vaccinations are being distributed, and where you should seek medical attention if you become ill will be presented by health officials on radio, TV, and through all news medias.
Chemical agents are poisonous, vapors, aerosols, liquids, or solids that have toxic effects on people, animals, or plants and can be released by bombs or sprayed from aircraft or vehicles. Some chemical agents may be odorless and tasteless and can have an immediate effect within a few seconds or minutes or a delayed effect up to 48 hours but still are generally faster acting than the Biological Agents discussed previously.
A chemical attack could come without warning and some of the signs of a release could include people having difficulty breathing; eye irritation; loss of coordination; nausea; burning sensation in the nose, throat, and lungs; or the presence of many dead insects or birds. The five primary categories of chemical agents are as follows:
- Blister Agents – Cause blisters, burns, and other tissue damage. Exposure may be through liquid or vapor contact with skin, inhalation, or ingestion. The effects of most blister agents increase with time and may not reach their full impact for 12 to 18 hours.
- Blood Agents – Absorbed into the bloodstream through skin, inhalation, or ingestion and deprive blood cells of oxygen. Two main families of chemicals include hydrogen, cyanide and cyanogen chloride. Those affected may initially appear "bluish" around the nose, cheeks and mouth and as the symptoms progress, the victim may start to convulse and lose consciousness.
- Choking Agents – Following exposure through inhalation, the lungs fill with fluid which prevents oxygen from being absorbed by the blood and carbon dioxide from being removed from the blood and death results similar to drowning. Two common examples of choking agents are phosgene and chlorine.
- Nerve Agents – Affect the central nervous system and can act within seconds of exposure and are the most lethal of all chemical agents. Victim’s experience constricted pupils, runny nose, shortness of breath, convulsions and cessation breathing. Sarin is an example of a nerve agent.
- Riot Control Agents – Cause respiratory distress and tearing and are designed to incapacitate rather than kill. Common riot-control agents include "tear gas" and “pepper spray".
Before A Chemical Attack
- Make sure your Disaster Supplies Kit is available and update food and water items every six months.
- Make sure your family is familiar with the procedures for Sheltering-In-Place.
During and After a Chemical Attack
- Follow the instructions of emergency personnel concerning evacuation from an area or Sheltering-In-Place.
- If Sheltering-In-Place, follow the procedures covered previously.
- Continue to listen to radio or TV for on-going instructions from authorities.
- If you are caught in or near a contaminated area, move away immediately in a direction upwind of the source of the problem and find shelter as quickly as possible.
- If a person is exposed to a chemical agent, decontamination is needed within minutes to minimize health consequences and that person will require immediate medical attention from a professional. If medical help is not immediately available you should decontaminate yourself and any other family members by using the following decontamination guidelines:
- Remove all clothing and other items in contact with the body. Contaminated clothing normally removed over the head should be cut off to avoid contact with the eyes, nose, and mouth. Put contaminated clothing and items into a plastic bag and seal it. Decontaminate hands using soap and water. Remove glasses or contact lenses and put glasses in a pan of household bleach to de-contaminate them and then rinse and dry them.
- Flush eyes with water.
- Gently wash face and hair soap.
- Decontaminate other body areas likely to have been contaminated by washing with soapy water and rinsing with clear water.
- Dry yourself by patting with a towel rather than rubbing.
- Change into uncontaminated clothes.
- Seek medical attention for screening and professional treatment as soon as possible.
Although New Jersey is not considered a high risk area for earthquakes, being familiar with the following terms would help to understand what is happening if an earthquake were to occur.
- Earthquake – A sudden slipping or movement of a portion of the earth's crust followed by a series of vibrations which is considered one of the most frightening and destructive phenomena of nature.
- Aftershock – An earthquake of similar or lesser intensity that follows the main earthquake.
- Fault – The fracture across which displacement has occurred during an earthquake this may range from an inch to more than 10 yards during a severe earthquake.
- Epicenter – The place on the earth's surface directly above the point on the fault where the earthquake rupture began.
- Seismic Waves – Vibrations that travel outward from the earthquake fault at speeds of several miles per second and cause most of the destruction during earthquakes.
- Magnitude – The amount of energy released during an earthquake which is computed from the amplitude of the seismic waves and measured on the Richter Scale. A magnitude of 7.0 is an extremely strong earthquake and each whole number on the scale represents a change of 30 times more energy released than the previous number so the earthquake measuring 7.0 is about 30 times more powerful than one measuring 6.0.
If an earthquake were to occur you should do the following to help protect yourself during the incident.
If you are indoors:
- Take cover under a sturdy desk or table or against an inside wall or crouch in an inside corner of the building and cover your face and head with your Arms.
- Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
- Stay inside until the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to go out. Many injuries during earthquakes occur when people are hit by falling objects when entering into or exiting from buildings.
- Be aware that electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
- DO NOT use any elevators. If you are outdoors, stay there and move away from buildings, street lights or utility wires and if you are driving, stop your vehicle in an open area away from any structures, overpasses or bridges.
In a disaster situation it may be necessary to evacuate your home for several days or longer. Because disasters can strike with little or no warning, you should be prepared to leave at a moment's notice. Knowing beforehand the steps to take in case of evacuation can make a big difference.
- Discuss with your family the possibility of an evacuation and what your plan would be.
- Check that your Disaster Supplies Kit is assembled and ready to go at all times.
- Plan multiple evacuation routes out of your area.
- Know where your local shelters are located if that is where you are directed to go.
- Find out your children's school evacuation policy.
- Plan for places to go outside your area such as family, friends, etc. if you have to leave your local area.
If Authorities Tell You to Evacuate
- Bring your Disaster Supplies Kit.
- Wear sturdy shoes and proper clothing.
- Unplug home electronics.
- Lock doors and windows.
- Turn off main switches and valves for gas, water and electricity, if instructed to do so. If you turn off your gas, it should only be turned back on by a qualified person to insure your personal safety.
- Inform a friend or relative of your plans.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes. Watch for flooded areas, downed power lines, washed-out bridges, etc.
- Make sure you fill your gas tank since you may be tied up in traffic.
- For long time periods or fuel may not be readily available along evacuation routes.
- Keep listening to your radio or TV stations for updated reports and additional evacuation instructions.
If You Are Going to a Public Shelter
- Be aware of the alcoholic beverages, pets (expect for service animals) and weapons are not allowed in public shelters.
- Practice patience and cooperation. Sharing space with many others can be very challenging.
- Stay in the shelter until authorities advise you it is safe to leave.