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Businesses Learn About Disaster Preparedness, How They Can Help

A Corbett administration representative will brief the region's business leaders on the state's response to Hurricane Sandy as part of a Tuesday meet-and-greet between public emergency response officials and private sector leaders.

The 140-plus members of the Pittsburgh Regional Business Coalition for Homeland Security (PRBCHS) will hear from Pennsylvania Director of Homeland Security Thomas Minton III on disaster preparedness in the commonwealth, a few months after the massive storm caused catastrophic damage to eastern Pennsylvania.

PRBCHS Director Kelly Barcic said her organization holds these meetings twice a year to keep the business community engaged with government in homeland security.

"The first time you meet your county coordinator or your emergency responder, you don't want it to be the first time your building's on fire," said Barcic.

She said another goal is to recruit companies for PRBCHS programs that get southwestern Pennsylvania businesses directly involved in disaster preparedness. For example, Barcic said the Coalition runs a network of companies that offer free services to local governments in times of emergency. It's called the PARR program (Private Assets for Region Responders).

"We have generator companies in Johnstown that at any given time, if they have them on the lot, they're willing to give up [generators] for emergency purposes; as well as portable toilets, porta-potties, basically," said Barcic. "Everybody made fun of me for that, but you need those for some emergencies."

She said other member companies offer shuttles and vehicles when the local governments are in need. Barcic said the only time the PARR program has launched was in the "Snowmageddon" blizzard of 2010.

"We had businesses for the city of Pittsburgh to go out and help firemen dig out fire hydrants, things like that," said Barcic. "From small- to medium-sized businesses, we were able to get a bunch of assets for the city of Pittsburgh, from this system."

Barcic said Tuesday's program also includes a speech on handling crisis situations, delivered by Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, a man who may be familiar with handling crises.

"We had him lined up before their sixteen-game losing streak, I promise," said Barcic.

A number of notable companies are members of the PRBCHS, including UPMC, Westinghouse, the University of Pittsburgh, and PNC Bank.