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Emergency Management
 

Staff

Director Robert Schneider rschneider@co.grant.wa.us
Senior Coordinator Michele Haughton gcem@co.grant.wa.us
Emergency Management Coordinator Sandi Duffey sduffey@co.grant.wa.us
Communications Coordinator/Public Information    

Emergency Management in Grant County

Grant County has an operational emergency management program with a full time paid staff of a Director and four Project Coordinators, with direct responsibility for the organization, administration and operation of the emergency management program for the County and fourteen incorporated cities and towns, and operation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC). The county's Director of Emergency Management is the administrative head and subordinate to the Board of County Commissioners.

History of Emergency Management

The current Emergency Management organizations in the nation developed over several years from a series of programs for Federal, State and Local programs. In most nations, disasters created organizations to manage the impacts of disaster and in some cases develop preparedness.

The greatest natural disaster in the history of the United States happened in September of 1900, when a hurricane literally submerged Galveston Island. In the city of Galveston alone, at least 6,000 people died, nearly half the homes were swept out of existence, and not a single building went undamaged. Including the destruction outside the city itself, as many as 12,000 people may have died and well over 3,500 structures destroyed.

The Galveston hurricane was a far greater disaster than better-known events such as the Chicago fire of 1871, which killed 250 people, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which killed 480, or the Johnstown (PA) flood in 1889, which claimed over 2,200 lives. Between 1803 and 1950, more than 100 disasters of various types across the nation were fought with federal resources.

In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt issued a statement on espionage requesting that all citizens, including state and local officials, turn over relevant information to the FBI. The FBI began surveying plants that were under contract to manufacture defense materials and prepared a plant protection manual for use by local police chiefs. Shortly after making his statement, Roosevelt established an Office of Emergency Management. As the world crisis intensified, the coordination responsibilities of the OEM were expanded. For example, it coordinated a wide range of defense-related housing. In 1941, Roosevelt abolished the CND and established the Office of Civil Defense within the Office of Emergency Planning. Like its predecessor, the OCD was linked with what was by then a nationwide network of 44 state and 1,000 local defense councils. Between 1945 and 1949, various agencies undertook studies of civil defense. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman appointed the president of Northwestern Bell Telephone Company to direct the newly formed Office of Civil Defense Planning.

In the early 1950s, there was shift in civil defense policy. A "Blue Book" report proposed “...the operational responsibility of civil defense would rest with state and local governments and the federal government would assist in ways it believed to be appropriate.” The report also recommended legislation be submitted to Congress establishing a federal civil defense administration that would report directly to the President. In December 1949, President Harry S. Truman established the Federal Civil Defense Administration.

A Civil Defense Ordinance was established in 1956 with the original purpose of developing emergency procedures for dealing with events related to nuclear threat or attack. As the threat of nuclear war diminished, emphasis shifted towards the risks of both natural and human-caused disasters. Real emergencies and disasters were known to be reoccurring and federal state and local government began to introduce programs to prepare citizens and mitigate disasters.

In the late 1970s the Grant County Department of Emergency Services evolved from the former Office of Civil Defense. The emergency management responsibility was transferred from one organization to another, always with a greater emphasis to the parent organization. On July 1, 1996, the organization was finally established as a full time emergency management organization, broadening its scope for planning and coordination for all phases of disaster management — preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. Currently an update for the original ordinance is proposed to adopt the program title of “Emergency Management”.

Responsibilities

Emergency Management draws its mandate from Chapter 38.52 RCW Comprehensive Emergency Management requiring that Emergency Management prepare, maintain and implement policies and procedures relating to preparedness, response and recovery from emergencies and disasters in Grant County. Chapter 38.52 RCW requires that all counties must establish an emergency management program and cities and towns have an option to establish an independent program or adopt the county's program. All fourteen incorporated communities within the county are part of the county program.

Planning and Research

Emergency Management assists with the preparation, review, and enhancement of emergency preparedness programs, training exercises, and resource development for municipalities, school divisions, government departments and agencies, and the private sector.

Emergency Management also reviews and recommends amendments to emergency measures legislation and ensures that departmental, municipal and private sector emergency plans are consistent with existing legislation.

The Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan

Emergency Management is responsible for maintaining the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). The CEMP is the linchpin in Emergency Management capacity to provide a coordinated and effective response to emergencies and disasters. It explains the local emergency response concept, emergency response structure, and the roles and responsibilities of departments and agencies responding to emergencies and disasters.

Training and Education

Emergency Management provides training and education in the form of courses, workshops, exercises, and conferences to local and county government officials, emergency response personnel, public interest groups and non-government representatives who would be tasked with principal emergency management responsibility in the event of an emergency or disaster.

The staff members of Emergency Management are active in the organizing committee for the annual Washington State Emergency Management Association's Emergency Management Conference, as well as supporting of the annual Partners in Preparedness Conference.

Public Information

Emergency Management disseminates Public Information on matters relating to emergency preparedness, response and recovery by distributing educational brochures and other awareness materials to individuals, businesses, agencies and institutions. One example is the Family Emergency Plan Handbook.

Emergency Response

Emergency Management assists with major emergencies and disasters through coordination of the disaster response process, including the coordination of local, state, federal and non-government agency resources to assist municipalities. Services provided to the municipalities include consulting, planning support, event activity; post emergency reports, and public information on response activities.

Public Assistance Program and Recovery

Emergency Management is responsible for the local administration and the systematization of recovery assistance programs.

The Public Assistance Program enables local and state governments, special purpose districts, private non-profit organizations, and Indian tribes to recover from the immediate and long-term impacts of disasters. The program provides state and federal funds to local governmental agencies for a portion of the costs for the repair and restoration of damaged public facilities, as well as to reimburse the agencies for a portion of the costs associated with emergency work and debris removal due to the disaster.

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