By Commissioner Marianne Randals
June 20, 2014
“Cogs are turning, and the ball is already rolling."
While this phrase doesn’t exactly sound like an official statement, it is the word that comes from Scurry County’s Emergency Management office, and it does sum up the status of that office in view of the ever present concern citizens have about natural disasters.
Emergency Management is what we in our community rely on for “insurance” against accidents, disasters, and “acts of God,” such as the much feared tornado.
According to Brad Bawcum, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator, “the key element of the county’s emergency management plan is that it is a broad plan, not nailed down to one location—there are alternate, redundant care sites that are prepared for use. School gymnasiums, churches and other large local facilities are prepared to receive victims and administer more than just first aid. Much attention has been paid to alternate care sites, putting them and supplies in close proximity to the probable disaster sites.
Speaking with one of the cogs in the emergency management wheel of Scurry County, Fire Marshall Cy Posy, we were able to ascertain that much has been done, and the ongoing effort for the county’s protection is truly in action.
Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) are in place with county agencies:
The school system gyms would be immediately available for emergency use for an alternate care site. Western Texas College facilities would immediately be available. Even TDCJ is considered to be on Code Red alert and an MOU is in place there. Scurry County Coliseum is stocked with additional cots and water for an immediate emergency. There are plans for those folk with heavy equipment to be at the ready.
There are appropriate plans for the gathering of information and a system for dispensing that information—literally a map of who goes where and who reports to whom, and what plans of action are to be commenced.
By law, animals that are displaced in an emergency situation will be taken care of. TexDot is in charge of rerouting traffic. The hospital, of course, is a vital site for the injured and has a plan for calling in all medical personnel. Temporary medical sites are in the Plan, as well as transportation to out-of-town emergency care.
Perry Westmoreland is the Emergency Management Coordinator, and the Emergency Operations Center is the hub of all decision making. Capable first responders are at the site and the alternate care center.
By statue, in case of disaster requiring all agencies to be on task, the County Judge is mandated to go to the Emergency Management Headquarters in the basement of the Snyder Fire Station. He is to be the director for all action taken at the time of the crisis. He has been present at all the EM “table top” planning sessions that are a once a month “cog” in the Plan.
The plans and training for the skills that are necessary in any emergency situation have been carefully considered. Three drills are required every year, two of which are discussion based, and the third is operation based involving the moving of assets. The necessary equipment for action is in place, and a state of the art dispatch center is prepared for immediate and rapid action.
A complete, functional “all out drill" is planned for June 2014, providing a realistic assessment for the county and agencies involved in the concern for the safety of Scurry County.