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