League talks about emergency management
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 9:00 PM
"Emergency Management, Preparing for the One percent" was the topic presented by Shari Harrington, Director of the Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency. Harrington is in her first year with Emergency Management after serving 9.5 years as the Sanitarian for Montgomery County Health Department. She is also a District 4 Task Force and Indiana Department of Homeland Security Incident Management Assistant Team member.
What is Emergency Management? Emergency Management is like the hub of a wheel with corresponding agencies, such as Fire Department, law enforcement, public works, street department, hospitals, schools, etc. spokes from the hub to wheel. Emergency Management deals with response, mitigation, prevention, planning, preparedness, and recovery.
Examples of the 1 percent include tornadoes, excessive flooding, winter storms with ice and blizzard conditions. The 1 percent event creates life and safety threatening that also affects infrastructure. 9/11 resulted in nearly 3000 deaths and cost 83 billions in dollars.
Local funding of Emergency Management comes from County Council. Emergency Management department reports to the County Council, County Commissioners and the Emergency Management Advisory Council. Members of the 2012 Advisory Council are: Chairman, Commissioner Phil Bane, Vice Chairman Mayor Todd Barton, and members Brian Keim-County Council, Denise Maxwell-Red Cross, Ed Sheldon-4-H, and Barry Lewis-Town Representative. Dan Taylor is Advisory Council Attorney, and Lori Dossett is Advisory Council Secretary. The State Department of Homeland Security can provide 50 percent reimbursement.
The Incident Command System (ICS) is a standardized on-scene, all-hazards incident management approach. This allows for the integration of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures and communications operating within a common organizational structure. ICS enables a coordinated response among various jurisdictions and functional agencies, both public and private. ICS also establishes common processes for planning and managing resources. Harrington emphasized that the ICS works!
Districts have been created to facilitate effective responses. The 92 counties in Indiana have been divided into nine districts. Montgomery County is part of District IV. This includes the donut counties around Lafayette/Tippecanoe County as well as Cass County.
The Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) is the forward response team for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) during times of disaster and large scale emergencies. While the team is hosted by the IDHS, the team can consist of members from multiple state agencies and is designed to handle all types of emergency incidents.
An Incident Action Plan (IAP) formally documents incident goals, operational period objectives and response strategy defined by incident command during response planning. The IAP contains general tactics to achieve goals and objectives within the overall strategy, while providing important information on the event and response parameters.
Harrington detailed some of her experiences at three deployments in her first year: Henryville in southern Indiana, Squirrel Creek Fire in Wyoming, and most recently Ocean City, Maryland when hit by Hurricane Sandy. Interestingly, Indiana was first state to respond to the recent hurricane Sandy on east coast. Debris management was a huge challenge.
Harrington answered many questions about the disasters and her experiences with impressive, informed and articulate responses. She also distributed copies of "Taking Emergency ACTION" from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. This provides key information when facing thunderstorms and lightning, summer weather, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fire/carbon monoxide poisoning, hazardous materials emergencies and more.
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