Emer­gency Man­age­ment Co­or­di­nates In Emer­gen­cies

McDonald County Press - - PROTECT & SERVE - Gregg Sweeten

The McDon­ald County Of­fice of Emer­gency Man­age­ment is re­spon­si­ble for the de­vel­op­ment and up­dat­ing of the McDon­ald County Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions Plan. This plan is used dur­ing all emer­gency events, as well as the Na­tional In­ci­dent Man­age­ment Sys­tem and the In­ci­dent Com­mand Sys­tem.

The Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency will co­or­di­nate the ac­tions of lo­cal and county agen­cies in the event of an emer­gency. The Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency is also tasked with the co­or­di­na­tion of re­quests for state and fed­eral re­sources when the needs arise from a dis­as­ter sit­u­a­tion. The agency also teaches Com­mu­nity Emer­gency Re­sponses Team train­ing to folks to deal with dis­as­ters. CERT train­ing teaches folks to help them­selves, help their neigh­bors and then help their com­mu­nity.

The McDon­ald County Of­fice of Emer­gency Man­age­ment re­sponds to two dif­fer­ent types of dis­as­ters — nat­u­ral and man-made. Nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in­clude snow and/or ice storms, floods, tor­na­does, se­vere weather, se­vere heat, ma­jor epi­demics and any other ma­jor event that poses a threat to the res­i­dents of McDon­ald County. The sec­ond type of dis­as­ter is man-made. This in­cludes tech­no­log­i­cal emer­gen­cies, haz­ardous ma­te­ri­als in­ci­dents, ra­di­o­log­i­cal, bi­o­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal emer­gen­cies, as well as large-scale crim­i­nal acts. The agency’s pri­mary re­spon­si­bil­i­ties are to co­or­di­nate the mit­i­ga­tion, pre­pared­ness and re­cov­ery of the county and the res­i­dents within McDon­ald County.

Gregg Sweeten is the di­rec­tor of the agency and has been since De­cem­ber of 1995. Gregg vol­un­teered his time un­til 2009 when the po­si­tion was made full­time. Gregg has 33 years of law en­force­ment ex­pe­ri­ence, 24 years of fire­fight­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and a lit­tle med­i­cal train­ing that he brings to the job. Gregg started back in the days of Civil De­fense in 1981 when he vol­un­teered with the Ot­tawa County Civil De­fense and took his first se­vere weather-spot­ter class.

The emer­gency man­age­ment of­fice is not just a day­time job. Weather hap­pens at all hours of the day and night. Weather does not stop at the state lines, and weather does not care where it hits. The 2017 Good­man tor­nado was the last tor­nado we had in McDon­ald County, and it was dev­as­tat­ing as it ripped through the heart of Good­man. We use sev­eral dif­fer­ent av­enues to keep track of the weather, like Na­tional Weather Ser­vice Chat, NOAA weather ra­dios, NWS con­fer­ence calls and, of course, radar. Gregg has to par­tic­i­pate in four ex­er­cises a year end­ing with a full-scale ex­er­cise. We have to test all of the means of com­mu­ni­ca­tions and no­ti­fi­ca­tions each year. We use Face­book and Nixle alerts as our main ways to com­mu­ni­cate in­for­ma­tion to the pub­lic. We have more than 3,800 peo­ple signed up to re­ceive emer­gency alerts on our Nixle pro­gram. It’s easy to sign up. Just text the key­word “mc­don­aldmo” to 888777 and you will re­ceive a wel­come mes­sage that you are ac­tive.

RACHEL DICKERSON/ MCDON­ALD COUNTY PRESS

Gregg Sweeten is di­rec­tor of the McDon­ald County Of­fice of Emer­gency Man­age­ment.

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