The Meramec Regional Emergency Planning Committee (MREPC) approved funding a full-scale training exercise for the region’s emergency response agencies during its Nov. 13 meeting.

The training exercise will place responders in a mock incident requiring them to work together and work through any problems the incident might present to better prepare for a real emergency.

“You want to keep it something you can relate to so that your responders can build some confidence and have a positive learning experience,” MREPC Chairman Kraig Bone said.

The MREPC board approved up to $16,000 for the exercise to be paid for from its reserve fund.

Additional details about the exercise will be discussed at MREPC’s next meeting on Feb. 27, 2013. Quarterly meetings are open to the public.

In the meantime, Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) staff will survey county governments and emergency management directors throughout the region to determine interest and begin the planning process, which will take several months.

“Functional exercises are fairly expensive because you might have to pay overtime and you get your equipment out and there are costs to do that. You have to take into account that most of your firefighters are volunteers who don’t want to take off work to go do that, so it is something that has to be coordinated,” MREPC board member Andrea Rice said.

During the Nov. 13 meeting, MREPC also approved its application for 2013 grant funds through the Missouri Emergency Response Commission (MERC).

MERC provides MREPC with grant funds for hazardous materials training to better prepare emergency responders in the region to respond to incidents involving hazardous materials.

MREPC has requested a total of $65,672 in MERC funding for 2013. If fully funded, MREPC would use the monies to update the region’s hazardous materials response plan, conduct at least three tabletop exercises and begin a commodities flow study for the region.

A commodities flow study has never been done in this region. The study would aim to give emergency responders more knowledge about what hazardous materials are moving through the region, allowing emergency personnel to respond more efficiently and better plan for accidents involving hazardous materials.

“It could help tailor training requests if we had a better picture of the hazardous materials that were actually being transported,” said Bonnie Prigge, executive director of MRPC. Prigge also serves as board president of the Vichy Volunteer Fire Department.

“If you find that there is one certain chemical that is coming through your area a lot, then you are going to want some training on how to deal with it,” she added.

If funded, the study could take up to two years to complete, and the results would be incorporated into the MREPC hazardous materials response plan for the region.

MERC also provides emergency responders in the area with hazardous materials training courses. Using the results of a survey sent to all emergency response agencies in the region, MREPC also prioritized its requests for training course availability. The prioritized list is included in the grant application.