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West Jordan Journal

West Jordan’s emergency manager stresses preparation

Jul 07, 2023 11:55AM ● By Linda Steele

Firefighter helps with the children squirting the fire hose. (Courtesy of West Jordan)

West Jordan wants businesses and residents to be ready for an emergency. Natural disasters are a real threat right now, with wildfires on the rise in addition to the flooding that is occurring as a result of Spring runoff. Utah also has the threat of M7.0 earthquakes. 

“It is wise to be prepared with food, energy and financial security,” West Jordan Emergency Manager Jeff Mulcahy said. 

If there was a widespread emergency in Utah, resources in Salt Lake County would be depleted fast. The surrounding Salt Lake County Emergency Management would be out of resources and low on help. It would take FEMA and other government organizations time to help those in dire need. Residents would be on their own for a long period of time and be competing with each other for resources. 

Wildfires and flooding will have a bigger effect on the eastside as opposed to the westside, but there could be flooding anywhere in the state. West Jordan is mitigating risks and has sandbags ready for flooding. 

“Residents and businesses need to take the precaution and prepare themselves as well. There might not be a big flooding hazard to the city but there could be flooding individually,” Mulcahy said. 

Eighteen months ago, Mulcahy set up a public outreach for resident emergency preparedness. “The more training residents and businesses have, the more quickly they will recover.” 

This emergency preparedness is patterned after an old FEMA program called Citizen Corps. Mulcahy calls the program Citizens Readiness Corps. The concept isn't new, but it is new to West Jordan where meetings are held monthly for residents to show up and learn about emergency preparedness. 

“About 30-40 people usually show up for the meetings,” Mulcahy said. 

Eventually Mulcahy would like to have volunteers who would become Emergency Preparedness Leaders.  “The EPLs would be leaders and build a team in their community and head up Neighborhood Rapid Assessment and give information to the Emergency Operations Center.” 

Mulcahy will be meeting with amateur radio operators to discuss setting up a West Jordan Amateur Radio Club to help with emergency communications. The residents could volunteer to work as communication operators and eventually work with EPLs and in the Emergency Operations Center. Many amateur radio operators check in weekly to a network promoted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In April 2023 the city participated in a FEMA Emergency Management Course. This course provided emergency and disaster exercises. All city employees who are members of the Emergency Management Team participated in the course along with stakeholders such as Utah Transit Authority, Jordan School District, Rocky Mountain Power, American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other companies and individual volunteers. 

Mayor Dirk Burton and Chief Administrator Korban Lee support Mulcahy in the effort to educate businesses, residents and employees who are the disaster responders. The city has put together a new EOC which will be in use when the remodel of the city hall is finished. The city will exercise a Comprehensive Emergency Plan twice a year. 

“In the Spring of 2024 we will be facilitating a full-scale exercise in the city, meaning we won't sit in a room and talk about what we would do during a proposed scenario, but will roll trucks to test our operational coordination, communications, public information warning, mass care response and more.” Mulcahy said. 

There is an emergency preparedness meeting for residents held the last Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the West Jordan Fire Station 53 (7602 South Landing Blvd.). Information on these events can be found on the City of West Jordan website or Facebook page. λ