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United Way of Lancaster County


County to buy portable shelters for use in emergencies

A portable shelter like the ones Lancaster County is buying. (Source: Deployed Logix)

Lancaster County’s Emergency Management Agency is buying a pair of portable field shelters for use when large numbers of people are displaced in emergencies.

Each shelter can house up to a dozen people and can be set up within minutes, LEMA Director Brian Pasquale told the county commissioners Tuesday.

Brian Pasquale

Pasquale said his team began contemplating the purchase after the Motel 6 incident in 2022, when a sprinkler malfunction forced the evacuation of more than 100 people. While many found shelter on their own, LEMA ended up housing about two dozen evacuees for several days at the Lancaster County Public Safety Training Center.

Had field shelters been on hand, they could have been stationed in the motel parking lot, Pasquale said. Providing shelter on site and avoiding relocation can reduce disruption, helping families to maintain existing social and resource networks, access to transportation and so on.

Made by the Eugene, Oregon-based company Deployed Logix, the shelters feature durable fabric walls and floors stretched over a rigid frame. The county is purchasing a package that includes cots, lights, heating and cooling systems, a generator and a utility trailer to transport all of it.

(Source: Deployed Logix)

The system is versatile, Pasquale said. Besides emergency shelter, it will be available for mass casualty and triage support; as “mass fatality support” for the county coroner’s office; to stage food, water and medical supplies for emergency distribution; for flu tests or vaccinations; and other emergency and public safety functions.

The shelters could also be used in a pinch when the county’s homeless shelters are full during a weather emergency, though that would be only “when no other options are available,” Pasquale said.

The cost, $206,335, will be covered with American Rescue Plan Act funds. The commissioners approved the purchase at their meeting Wednesday, as part of a larger ARPA appropriation totaling $493,177.

Besides the shelters, the funding will go toward:

  • A set of 26 two-way portable radios for LEMA and Public Safety Training Center staff ($71,561)
  • A 3-year subscription to a cloud-based training platform for county employees ($99,897)
  • A digital media recruiting campaign for the sheriff’s office ($62,800)
  • IT equipment and related infrastructure upgrades for the district attorney’s office ($47,582)
  • Scanners to digitize human resources records ($5,002)