Sound The Alarm

One of the best things we obtained as a result of Y2K was communication. Previously, we had fairly old radio communication that was unreliable, and if it was out, we had only land lines. As anyone in the business knows, in handling emergencies, communication is a top priority. If key players up and down the chain of command can’t communicate, the whole process is compromised.

So we were able to justify cell phones that double as cell radios. All key staff–including the maintenance crew– still have them today, upgraded several times, of course.

A Ripple Effect

After 9/11, emergency preparedness took on a whole new level of importance. Thankfully, we had already massaged our plan, and now we’re getting more sophisticated. We set up a standing Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in one of our fire stations, with back-up EOCs designated elsewhere. We implemented a formal staff-recall system to get the EOC manned and running quickly. Things that used to be done by hand are now being done on laptops.

We started doing live drills where we actually put people in the field and call in requests for support. In one scenario, we had a scale-model city set up to help visualize actions.

The catastrophe of 9/11 has also driven more federal and state requirements in order to qualify for grants. All staff has gone through the various levels of required National Incident Management System training. We’re coordinating training more with adjacent cities and counties so we can share resources.

An effective emergency plan is like insurance–it can appear useless when you don’t need it, but when you need it, you really need it and it needs to be effective. We hope we’ll never have to activate ours, but we will be ready if we do.

I’ll bet readers would be interested to hear how other city and county recreation departments across the country are involved in their emergency plans. Share your roles and ideas because there may be others out there who need them. Or if your department is not involved, tell us why not. E-mail, call, or write PRB or me with your thoughts.

Randy Gaddo is Director of Leisure Services (parks, recreation and library) in Peachtree City, Ga. He can be reached at (770) 631-2542, or via e-mail at dls@peachtree-city.org

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Related posts:

  1. Master Plans
  2. Man Vs. Machine
  3. Where To Start
  4. A Plan For Action
  5. Strategically Sound

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