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Homeland Security

Rhea County Sheriff Mike Neal formed the County's Homeland Security Team following the 9/11 tragedy. Sheriff Neal, foreseeing the need to have trained volunteers ready to step in to assist with emergencies that might deplete the Sheriffs Department's resources, formed this group from volunteers interested in helping their community.

Over the past 12 years, these teams have assisted in the State Small Pox Inoculation Drill, Watts Bar Response Drill, Evacuation Drills at Spring City Elementary School and Rhea Central Elementary School, and have coordinated various Neighborhood Watch programs around the county.

In addition, the team has assisted in Search and Rescue, Crime Scene Security, Security for a variety of public events, and has conducted dozens of public services including CPR and First Aid Classes around the county. The team has also assisted in with various natural disasters within the county including providing medical assistance.

The Homeland Security Team has Annual training in handgun qualification, National Weather Service (Weather Spotters), OC Pepper Spray, Extendable Baton and Emergency Vehicle Operations. Other classes include Incident Response to Terrorist Bombings, Counter Terrorism Surveillance, Basic Radio Communications, NIMS (National Incident Management System), Hazardous Materials Awareness, Methamphetamine Awareness, Drug Interdiction, IED Recognition (Improvised Explosive Device), and the Highway Watch Program. Medical Responders within the team have taken classes in SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), PEPS (Pediatric Education for Pre-Hospital Professionals), TCCC (Tactical Combat Causality Care), Medical First Responders, Advance First Aid, CPR, and AED, and several are National Registry/State Certified First Responders and Emergency Responders.

The Homeland Security Team consists of 40 members qualified in the following areas:

  • 25 First Aid Certified
  • 30 CPR/AED Certified
  • 9 Emergency Medical Responders
  • 6 Medical First Responders
  • 4 CPR/AED/First Aid Instructors
  • 18 Extendable Baton Certified
  • 28 OC Pepper Spray Certified
  • 35 Handgun Certified
  • 9 Ham Radio Operators
  • 7 EVOC Certified
  • 14 Members in North Rhea County
  • 26 Members in South Rhea County

 

 


Homeland Security, Local Group Goes Far Beyond Crowd and Traffic Control

Article published by The Herald-News, written by Reed Johnson, Editor.

You’ve seen them at places like the Tennessee Strawberry Festival and PumpkinFest managing the crowd. You’ve seen them help direct traffic on Highway 27 during Friday night football games in the fall and at local fishing tournaments.

But the men and women of Rhea County Homeland Security do much more and serve a more critical role in helping keep the county safe that may sometimes go unnoticed.

Rhea County Sheriff Mike Neal formed the Homeland Security team in 2002 following the Islamic terrorists attacks on 9/11. Neal said he foresaw the need to have trained volunteers ready to step in to assist with emergencies that might deplete the sheriff’s department’s resources.

Over the past 14 years, this team has assisted in the state small pox inoculation drill, Watts Bar Response Drill, evacuation drills at Spring City Elementary School and Rhea Central Elementary School, and have coordinated various neighborhood watch programs around the county.

In addition, the team has assisted in search and rescue, crime scene security, security for a variety of public events and has conducted dozens of public services including CPR and first aid classes around the county. The team has also assisted with various natural disasters within the county including providing medical assistance.

“Of course we work all of the major events held around the county,”Homeland Security Director Jim Conner said. “But there’s a lot more to it than that.”

Conner said that the men and women who form Rhea County Homeland Security are an all-volunteer force that has received training to deal with a variety of situations. The team includes 38 individuals, including a former police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department and military veterans.

“They have to go through some serious training,” Conner said.

Members of Homeland Security are trained in handgun qualification, emergency vehicle operations, responding to terrorists bombings, counter terrorism surveillance and a wide variety of other scenarios.

Conner said that medical responders with Homeland Security have trained to deal with sudden infant death syndrome, first aid, CPR and tactical combat causality care.

“When the sheriff established Homeland Security, the goal was to have a group of trained volunteers that could back up and work with law enforcement in the event of an emergency,” Conner said. “So, if something happens, we can help pick up the slack.”

Rhea County Homeland Security relies on fundraisers and volunteers to operate, Conner said, and on Saturday, April 23, the group will be holding a hotdog/chili fundraiser with a silent auction to help fund its operations.

The fundraiser is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rhea County Welcome Center in Dayton. The event will also feature a drawing for the chance to win a La-Z-Boy recliner for a $2 donation. The drawing for the recliner will be held at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, and Conner said individuals do not have to be present to win.

“We’re really not any expense to the county,” Conner said. “We do various fundraisers and we’re all volunteers. It’s really great to have so many people donate their time to help keep their community safe.”

Reed Johnson can be contacted at reed.johnson@rheaheraldnews.com.

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