Lt. Governor spearheads Kentucky eclipse preparations

Safety plan for eclipse

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Narcan, a drug that combats heroin overdoses, is on the list of items Kentucky is looking at as it prepares for the total solar eclipse.

In less than three weeks the eclipse will make a path through a large portion of Western Kentucky. Hopkinsville finds itself at the center of international attention as having the longest total eclipse time of 2 minutes, 40.1 seconds. While many are focusing on the fun aspects of the once-in-a-lifetime experience, an effort is underway to better the odds that the only memories from August 21st are of the out-of-this-world experience many are traveling to Kentucky to enjoy.

Only WHAS 11 was in a pair of recent meetings with the Director of Kentucky's Division of Emergency Management, Michael Dossett, and Lieutenant Governor Jenean Hampton.

They've been meeting for months at command centers working out the "what ifs" for this event that's as unique as anything Kentucky has ever experienced. Director Dossett reports that they have response equipment and teams prepared to be in and around the 21 key counties in the eclipse path, none of which are geared with the infrastructure to handle the expected masses.

Director Dossett told emergency responders that they have, “planned for redundant communications times four.”

They've game-planned down to the local level calling in Director Dossett described as a "high profile air assett" as well additional hazmat and firefighters.

The Kentucky State Police is preparing an additional presence as well

"We're staging our safe patrol operators in strategic locations around these surrounding counties so they can be prepared for first aid and motorist assist,” said Dr. Noelle Hunter, Executive Director for Kentucky’s Office of Highway Safety.

The Transportation Department is involved, as is the National Guard, Kentucky State Parks and Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Rebecca Gillis, with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services reported, “We're going to be looking at disease and illness surveillance.”

Her agency is sending a platoon of health inspectors into areas with festivals to watch for  food borne and water borne illnesses. They also have crews planning to spray for mosquitoes in some areas leading up to August 21.

Agencies held a tabletop exercise recently with more than 200 people in attendance. That worked as a dry run for what may take place on eclipse day. But the practice has also revealed the need for something first responders are using more and more frequently.
"One of the things that we talked about was having a supply of Narcan”, explained Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton.

Narcan is a drug used to combat heroin overdoses.

“Some of the counties don't exactly stockpile that particular drug so we had a discussion about that, how are we going to get extra supplies into the area specifically into the hands of law enforcement, people who might need it or the emergency folks who might need it”, said the Lt. Governor. “So that was something I hadn't thought about at all."

That concern demonstrates that all possibilities must be considered, so we asked whether officials were prepared for any potential terrorist activity?

"As a Commonwealth, we are,” insisted Director Dossett. “I can tell you that the briefing we receive every week indicates there is no known threat at this particular time. That being said, you prepare for any kind of incident that could occur whether it's manmade or whether it's weather."

All involved admit that traffic is going to be a bear. They're best advice is to prepare like a you're heading into a winter storm and leaving Thunder Over Louisville or the Kentucky Derby. Officials suggest that you have extra supplies and just be patient. After all, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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