St. Louis’ credentialing process is one of only a handful in place across the nation. The process was based on plans currently in place in New York and California, said Stehlin.
Stehlin initiated the credentialing process after conducting a research project with Tim Bono of Southwestern Bell Company. They were joined in 1997 by Richard Arnold, CBCP, publisher of Disaster Recovery Journal. The process took off after Stehlin, Bono, and others attended a focus group meeting at the Federal Emergency Management Association’s headquarters in 1997.
Over the years, the committee worked on gaining support for the program and laying out the procedures. Many times the members refined the process to include disasters and business interruptions of all types.
“After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the focus of the committee switched to more in-depth terrorism and weapons of mass destruction training and planning,” said Stehlin.
The credentialing process will apply to all natural and man-made incidents. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in unison with the City of St. Louis has the overall responsibility for the implementation of the plan and the chief of police has the final authority on the implementation of the annex.
“We stress in the program that in the event of a terrorism incident, approval must be given by Unified Command and the FBI as we will be working under ‘crisis management.’ Other than a terrorist incident, activation will remain under local Unified Command control,” Stehlin explained.
Though Stehlin is pursuing efforts to implement the business emergency access plan on a regional basis, at this time, it applies only to facilities in the City of St. Louis. Business owners and employees in surrounding communities can still apply for the credentialing process, but will need to contact their own municipality authorities for clearance at facilities outside the city limits.
In order to gain credentials, interested parties must send a letter requesting an application to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, Bureau of Community Policing, Emergency Management Coordinator, 4213 Gibson, St. Louis, MO 63110. The fee is $25 per credential, which is good for a three-year period before updating is necessary.
Individuals who apply must have a written continuity plan in place at their business; must sign an indemnification form, and show evidence of training in the following courses: incident command system (four hours); hazardous materials awareness (four hours); and structural assessment visual evaluation (eight hours).
Training will be offered for applicants through the SLMPD once enough applicants are in place.
More information on the credentialing program will be available on the Web sites of the St. Louis Local Emergency Planning Commission and the City of St. Louis Emergency Management Agency. Additional information can also be gained by contacting the SLMPD.
Other members of the credentialing committee included Elizabeth Aton, Washington University; Lloyd Bush, AG Edwards; Ed Bushmeyer, public safety director; Charles Coyle, fire marshall, St. Louis Fire Department; Chief Sherman George, St. Louis Fire Department; Tom Heard, AG Edwards; William Schuchman, Metropolitan Manufacturers Association; and Ron Smith, city building commissioner.
Janette Ballman has served as an editor with Disaster Recovery Journal since 1991. She has reported on numerous disasters and business continuity issues during that time. Ballman received a journalism degree from Mississippi University for Women in 1989.