Inspired by an article in the National Association of Counties’ June 24, 2019 issue entitled Nailing Down Your Emergency Management Program, we wanted to take some time to answer the questions posed. We are taking this opportunity to interview Emergency Management Director Ron Gentry to gain insight into his perspective.
Questions for disaster preparedness assessment of Camden County
1. Who handles the day-to-day duties associated with disaster preparedness and what percentage of their time is actually devoted to disaster preparedness?
The employees of the Camden County, MO Emergency Management Agency manage the day-to-day disaster preparedness duties. Though it is not an 8 hour a day duty, we work on the responsibility when we see a need or implement an idea.
2. Does Camden County have a strategic plan for disaster preparedness?
Yes, it is part of the Local Emergency Operations Plan.
3. Does the county have an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP)? When was it last revised?
Yes. We are currently in revision, however it was last revised in 2018.
4. Is the Emergency Operations Plan compliant with NFPA Standard 1600?
5. Does Camden County have a plan for disaster cost recovery? If so, when was it last revised?
No. That is a great topic we can work on for disaster preparedness.
6. Is Camden County part of a mutual aid agreement with neighboring jurisdictions? When was the mutual aid agreement last used? When was the agreement last revised?
There is not a written mutual aid agreement with the counties, but we work together through the Region F Multi-Agency Coordination Center. While there have been exercises, we have not had a need to initiate the FMACC in recent history.
7. When was the last emergency preparedness drill held that included activation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC)?
Not in recent memory, however, our upcoming plans and exercises include the opportunity to do so.
8. When was the last time employees, other than police officers or firefighters, had emergency preparedness training?
We held a full scale fire drill at the courthouse in 2018. We held a tornado drill in 2019. The plan is to alternate conducting them every two years, however, the onset of COVID-19 has delayed our timescale to conduct one for 2020. We look forward to resuming with the training for the county employees as soon as it is safe to do so!
9. Other than for police and fire, what were the last three emergency preparedness classes held for employees, when were they held and how many employees attended each class?
Not in recent history, however, with the employment of our new assistant director, who is a trainer for the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, we are looking forward to bringing new training opportunities to the county’s employees.
10. Exclusive of the police and/or fire department budgets, how much do we have budgeted specifically for disaster preparedness activities?
11. Is this county accredited by EMAP (Emergency Management Accreditation Process)?
12. Does the county have a Disaster Mitigation Plan in compliance with the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA2K)? When is the DMA2K Plan next due for revision?
No. We do have a Hazard Mitigation Plan which will be posted here on our website shortly.
13. Does the county have a volunteer CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), ham radio and/or animal rescue groups? If so, what are the numbers of people trained and the number of people currently active in those programs? When was the last CERT (and other) training program held and how many citizens participated?
Camden County has a CERT as well as an ARES program. So far, over 100 people have been trained for CERT in Camden County. Prior to the pandemic, we had an average of 30 people active at any time. The last CERT training class was in 2019.
14. Are all county employees aware that they are Disaster Service Workers under State law, and specifically, where in our hiring process is this addressed?
No. According to our research, this law is only applicable to California.
15. Does Camden County have a Disaster Purchasing Policy and other necessary policies to maximize our ability to receive Federal disaster assistance?
16. Where are the names and phone numbers of the emergency preparedness officials with our local school district(s), local hospital(s), and other significant local partner agencies and companies, including local utilities? When was the list last updated?
The list is kept in the full version of the LEOP. The list is updated annually.
17. What should we be doing to be better prepared for disaster response and recovery?
Training, training, and more training. You can never exercise and try out your plans for weaknesses enough.
18. Overall on a scale of 1 to 10, how well prepared for disasters is Camden County?
I’d say a 6 or 7 with room for improvement as we participate in more training, update our equipment, and expand our plans.
19. Has Camden County ever had an audit by an independent outside expert to evaluate the state of preparedness and recovery capabilities? Or does the Council exclusively rely on the self-assessments of staff regarding preparedness?
The county relies on the Emergency Management Agency for assessments.
20. Have any of the elected or senior officials ever attended an off-site disaster-related training program at the Federal Emergency Management Institute (often free), the University of Texas Extension or other nationally recognized emergency management training institute?
Not to my knowledge.