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Trailers Speed Fairfield's Disaster Response

Fairfield residents needed to evacuate their homes three times in the past year, for a hazardous material spill, storms along the coast and a structure fire . Each time, the Civilian Emergency Response Team and crews led by Assistant Fire Chief Art Reid had to wait for the Red Cross to fully stock its emergency shelters.

But now, Fairfield and 13 surrounding towns will have their own supplies ready to go at a moment's notice. The state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security rolled out 14 new Mass Care Support Trailers across Fairfield County.

"We'll be able to get this to a shelter site immediately," Reid says. "Generally [the Red Cross] gets their pretty quickly, but this will give us more equipment there very rapidly."

Each trailer contains the basic essentials for setting up an emergency shelter: more than 200 blankets, 122 cots (including 12 special models for people with disabilities) and paper products as well as toiletries and personal items.

"If we have to move someone very quickly, they may get out with just the clothes that they have on," Reid says. "This will give us the capability to at least take care of them through the initial 72 hours."

Each town in homeland security Region 1, which stretches from Greenwich to Stratford, received its own federally funded unit. But through mutual aid agreements, in emergency situations, all 14 towns will head to where they are needed most. If a disaster strikes the coastline, for example, trucks from Easton, New Canaan or Wilton could to support Fairfield, Westport or Stamford.

The Red Cross has six similar trailers in the area as well. Red Cross Senior Director Stephen Woods said those would still see plenty of action. The 14 new trailers will more than double the speed and coverage for relief to local residents, by allowing responders to pool more resources.

"As we found in Katrina, and other [disasters], no one agency can do it all," Woods said. "All the agencies really need to come together when an emergency happens."

Do you know what to do in case of an emergency? Have you ever been forced to evacuate?

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