Saturday, March 31, 2012

Guest Post: "What are We Losing?" by Karyl Parks

Guest posts are welcome and encouraged. If you have something to say and are able to do it in a respectful, reasonable way, send your piece to The contents of guest posts do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 

Every county by law must have an EMA director based on the mandates of Homeland security.

To make access easier for you, at the bottom of my comments I have posted the responsibilities of the EMA office.

Mrs Lucas and Dennis Wein have partnered and worked together in a project to keep this county safe. Dennis heads the MRC (Medical Reserve Corps) and Mrs Lucas trained the civilian sector CERT(Community Emergency Response Team)

The efforts of keeping volunteers trained, background checked, and in compliance with FEMA standards for emergency responders has been a labor of love for both Mr Wein, and Mrs Lucas. All these free services to our county are done unseen to the public eye. Although under the directives of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) most counties have dropped these programs, because it takes just too much personal time and effort. (After all, it's FREE)

One thing this county is very strong in is the local Civilian component of the EMA management. MRs Lucas has spent a great deal of personal time and sacrifice regarding developing the local citizen volunteers designed by Homeland security to keep us safe and at low cost. She has developed a strong training program to assess and mitigate in the face of disaster. She has vetted these volunteers and made them take background checks as in compliance with Homeland security directives. She has made an effort to develop a SEARCH and RESCUE team at no cost to this county.

Bringing in outside agencies costs our county. Our local EMA office has purchased equipment through federal grants and has been actively training a Search and Rescue Team, as well as providing necessary training to another existing Search and Rescue resource, making them compliant with Federal Standards of criteria for Search and Rescue and Emergency Response. Training is also been given in Hazmat, Structural Integrity assessment, Situational Awareness, Evidence Scene Preservation (what to do if something you think may become evidence, and how to not contaminate the area compromising later investigations). These offices also work closely with Darke County Red Cross and the ARES (Ham Radio) to create a strong network to mitigate disaster, should it occur in Darke County. All organizations must be pre-vetted, have ID and background checks in order to participate in a disaster. All organizations integrate well with each other, all knowing each team member has met the same criteria and are ready to step up when disaster strikes.

Do we need this? In the past these agencies have already been called to step up. They work invisibly and quietly behind the scenes.

Most of the counties in Ohio have already dropped this resource. WHY? Because of the energy, time, dedication required to head this up. Previously existing programs in other counties continually get dropped because new directors just don't have the self starter motivation to continue it.

Darke County has one of the best and most active Emergency Response teams (MRC and CERT) in this state. Also one of the best trained.

This is where I begin my personal thought editorial. Mrs Lucas is no longer with Darke County EMA office. From all information thus gathered, it appears that she was fired from her office because she CARED. She didn't just work her job and put in her hours, she DID things. She DIDN'T steal from the county as previous EMA directors did. She had PASSION for her job, and BELIEVED in the importance of her job and sacrificed to insure the county was prepared in the face of disaster. She loved her job, and hated to see the position defiled by theft. Because of her passion, apparently the county commissioners did not see her as a FIT. They preferred to see their EMA director embezzle county and federal funds as entitlements instead of an ambitious, hard working community minded person who was passionate about her mission and loved her job. She spoke up, and in short, lost her job. And The Commissioners have pretty much guaranteed that Mrs Lucas will never get her job that she c!
oveted and earned, and consider her DEALT with. They preferred the corruption and waste over industry. They paid Mrs Lucas to go away.

Darke countians wonder why citizens are in such an uproar. Perhaps because they didn't actually know what an injustice has been done to the citizens of Darke County in the removal of Mrs Lucas? We aren't just talking about damages to Mrs Lucas, we are talking about Commissioners covering up embezzlement by firing a valuable county employee. We are talking about damage of a FREE service provided and nurtured under the watchful eye of Mrs Lucas. This, citizens, is what WE THE PEOPLE are and SHOULD be upset about.

The Responsibilities of the EMA office are as follows.

The Local Emergency Management Director is responsible to ensure that the community:
Knows it vulnerabilities, hazards, threats and impacts; Plans for any emergencies Responds timely and effectively in any emergency Conducts recovery operations

The Local Emergency Management Director is responsible for coordinating the various components of the emergency management system: fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services, public works, volunteer groups, state resources, etc. By incorporating the four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery; the Local Emergency Management Director can effectively respond to all situations that might occur.

There are several core functions a Local Emergency Management Director must perform:

Identify hazards:
Analyze vulnerability Understand the impacts Assessment of your capabilities (Develop an Emergency Operations Plan) Develop effective relationships Improve preparedness Coordinate response/recovery activities Encourage hazard mitigation Develop public information procedures Remain current through emergency management training Act as coordinator to prepare and develop response plans, an all hazards plan, and a mitigation plan.
Individual duties of the Local Emergency Management Director will vary based on the jurisdictions, local concerns, ordinances, and other regulations. The following is a list of the duties typically performed by the local Emergency

Management Director:
Act as the lead point of contact in any emergency situation. Develop an Emergency Operating Center (EOC) facility, a protected site from which key local officials control operations. Develop EOC staffing and internal procedures to permit key local officials to conduct coordinated operations in emergencies. Conduct tests and exercises to give local officials practice in directing coordinated operations under simulated emergency conditions. Develop a local government emergency operations plan, outlining what each local agency and supporting group would do in the case of any emergency. Establish a system to alert key local officials in the event of an emergency. Coordinate and lead emergency communications planning, secure all required equipment, and exercise emergency communications. Coordinate with doctors, hospitals, and public/private sector medical personnel to develop emergency medical plans and capabilities, as part of local emergency plans. Establish and maintain a shelter system. Establish and maintain an emergency public information system and train personnel to utilize it.

Coordinate with volunteer groups to develop an emergency welfare capability to care for people needing mass care as a result of any emergency. Establish and maintain relationships with industry to develop industrial emergency plans and capabilities in support of local emergency plans. Assist local operating departments such as the police department, fire department, and public works with their training needs. Coordinate and participate in training programs for the public during local emergencies. Assist in the establishment of mutual aid agreements to provide needed services, equipment, or other resources during an emergency. Prepare, submit, and justify the annual emergency management budget. Research available grants, secure matching funds, and other assistance available through Federal programs for Emergency Management.

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