Fire Chief, Ian Nelson presented a proposed update to the Emergency Service plan (EOP) for Morgan county at Tuesday’s county council public meeting. An EOP assigns all the responsibility to different departments in the counties. It develops the line of authority based on the type of incident or type of disaster, as well as determining what type of equipment and supplies we have in our county. An EOP also includes neighboring counties and how different emergency management would interact during an emergency.
An EOP focuses on mitigating disasters, responding, and recovering. FEMA’s statement on the necessity of community EOPs is, “When disasters threaten or strike a jurisdiction, people expect elected leaders to take immediate action to deal with the problem. The government is expected to marshal its resources, channel the efforts of voluntary agencies and private enterprises in the community and solicit assistance from outside jurisdiction if necessary.”
Emergencies should be handled at a local level before reaching out to FEMA or the Federal Government. Mitigation should be done before disasters. Nelson said, “Obviously we can’t mitigate, or prepare for every disaster. We’re going to have wildfires, we’re going to have crazy snowstorms and flooding. That’s where the preparedness and EOP comes in to know what we do when that actually happens. It tells us how we respond to that situation.”
The Northern Region is being redone with Nelson, as well as 5 other emergency managers. Once the regional EOP is completed the managers will review to make sure there are no regional plans that conflict with Morgan County’s plans. Once approved, copies of the updated plan will be distributed. The plans reviewed by the managers discuss the different department roles between emergency personnel and what their roles would be to protect the community.
Nelson, along with FEMA and the regional safety managers suggested forming a new EOP committee and invite one or two county council members to sit on the committee, as well as including the public works department and the Chamber of Commerce. A committee would ensure the entire county, and city are all versed on proper steps during an emergency. With one specific plan, it creates the best plan for those working hard to protect the citizens and community do their jobs in the safest, most efficient way possible. No specific date on the forming of the new committee was discussed, but councilman, Austin Turner expressed interest in a seat saying, “When it comes to disaster declarations we as council members are a huge part of that.”