Measure Twice and Cut Once When It Comes to Emergency Response

An educational session at MACo’s Winter Conference reveals best practices for requesting and providing assistance across jurisdictional lines during emergencies.

Senator Jennings is a member of Maryland’s General Assembly with understanding and insight into emergency management.

Maryland’s Senator JB Jennings lead a panel discussion of emergency management response to disasters that overwhelm the capabilities of any one jurisdiction. Jennings himself serves in the Maryland Air National Guard.

The first panelist, Maryland Emergency Management Agency Executive Director Russ Strickland described the structure of response — and how federal, state and county resources are activated and deployed following emergency declarations. The work of the emergency manager is then to coordinate leadership from each entity involved in the response.

Davis and Hawkins discuss how to best prepare to request response and recovery assistance during a major disaster.

Maggie Davis, JD, MA, Senior Law & Policy Analyst, Center for Health and Homeland Security, shared the intricacies of mutual aid compacts and laws relating to emergency declarations, and how to lay the groundwork for effective use of these instruments when the time of need arises.

Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Aftung, who has experience in emergency management and fire service in several counties, shared that there’s a lot more than fire and EMS response in a major emergency.

Emergency managers assemble diverse resources and teams to attack the range of issues that arise. For example, “cut and throw” teams are specifically dedicated to clearing roadways of fallen trees and debris following a storm. Many other similarly task-specific units are assembled and ready to deploy when needed in a county prepared for a major emergency.

Valerie Hawkins, Carroll County’s Emergency Management Assistant Coordinator,  emphasized the planning needed in advance of an emergency. “What does your county have, and what will you need when an emergency hits? Plan ahead and request help early for a successful response,” Hawkins counseled.

For more information, see Too Big To Fail: Pulling Together for Emergency Response.