If diaster strikes in your community, will you be ready? If disaster were to strike in your community will you be ready to take charge?
An elected official does not know when a disaster will strike, but when it does, any number of grim scenarios may impact the community. There may be power outages, contaminated water distribution systems, extensive debris piles, raw sewage in the streets, overloaded communications systems, or municipal property damage; all having a significant impact on the community. Angry, confused, frightened, and possibly displaced community members might be present with never-ending lists of problems. The greatest impact will be the loss of life and property.
Elected or appointed officials are ultimately responsible for protecting citizens and those visiting their jurisdiction. Citizens and visitors expect a reasonable level of protection, to which they have a right. It is essential that elected officials also support and participate in learning opportunities with first responders and key staff. The public holds elected officials accountable for the decisions and actions of response personnel. In addition to legal responsibilities, there are liability issues involved in the way a community manages the response to an emergency.
Elected and appointed officials include mayors and their deputies, town or village supervisors, department heads, legislators and councilmen and women. They are responsible for declarations of states of emergency, coordinating the actions of their incident command posts (ICP) or emergency operations centers (EOC), interfacing with community volunteer organizations and issuing public information and news releases. The time to learn these essential skills is long before a disaster strikes, not try to figure it out after the emergency.
The St. Lawrence County Department of Emergency Services is hosting a Public Officials Conference on Thursday, 4 October at the Kingston Auditorium on the SUNY Canton campus. The New York State Office of Emergency Management is providing a half day (4-5 hour) workshop to teach public officials their role in emergency management and their role in running of their ICP or EOC.
Registration is open ot all public elected and appointed officials in St. Lawrence County. To register email THowie@co.st-lawrence.ny.us, or call 379-2240.