Special to the Register & Bee

Capt. George Coleman and Deputy Sherry Scolpini from the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, along with Pittsylvania County Director of Public Safety Chris Slemp spoke on emergency preparedness at the September meeting of Pittsylvania County Retired Teachers Association.

Coleman, who is with the Crime Stoppers board, presented tips to stay safe in everyday situations such as shopping.

He distributed whistles that can be worn on an arm or attached to a key ring to startle someone.

Scolpini spoke about the Project Lifesaver program available to Pittsylvania County residents. The aim is to assist law enforcement, fire/rescue and caregivers protect, and if necessary, quickly locate “at risk” individuals who are prone to wander because of cognitive disorders.

The individual is provided a bracelet, to be worn at all times, that contains an individualized radio frequency transmitter which emits a signal to a receiver in the sheriff’s office.

When the dispatcher is notified the wanderer is missing, the signal will help to locate the person quickly. The average recovery time is 30 minutes.

Pittsylvania County was the first county in Virginia to have access to this free service that allows loved ones to stay at home in spite of their disorder.

Slemp encouraged everyone to heed warnings of approaching weather threats.

While his department is available for response and recovery in disastrous situations, it possibly would not be needed in those cases if residents were better prepared. Warnings are usually issued with enough time to stock up on basic supplies and to prepare property. The Public Safety Department also prepares in advance so personnel, equipment and supplies are available when needed.

Individuals should prepare a “to go kit” in case they need to evacuate or relocate. Include basic clothing, cash, medicine and other necessities. When relocation is not feasible or necessary, residents will need enough nonperishable groceries and water for three to four days, a generator, trash bags, a supply of water for sanitation and a plan to keep in touch with relatives and neighbors.

In winter, keep a snow shovel handy in order to be able to get out of the house if necessary.

It is best to have two ways to get out of the house. A working smoke detector is a must, and special care must be taken in the use of grills, heaters and candles. If there is a bedridden family member in the house, make prior arrangements for their care.

The Public Safety Department prepares to handle the needs of county residents in localized areas struck by storms and acts of nature as well as major disasters.

With the help of social services and local fire/rescue facilities, the food, shelter and sanitation needs of a small number of people can be met locally. In cases where a large area of the county is affected, schools and other public buildings may be used as rescue centers.

Slemp noted his department is in charge of animal control, 911 dispatch and fire/rescue services.

Following the informative program, a business session was held. Committee reports were heard. Members approved a $5 dues increase, an annual budget, sponsorship of a graduate of merit and a service project for Chatham Health and Rehabilitation Center for the Nov. 21 meeting.

A nominating committee was formed.

Door prizes were won by Rosa Chambers and Julia Lovelace. Oak Grove Christian Church hosted the meeting. The meal was catered by Pat Woodson.

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