County Prepares For Catastrophic Emergency in Washington County

Courtesy of The Goulding Agency / Real Florida Magazine

On April 17, 2012, Washington County, Florida was hit by ‘Hurricane Roger’, a highly dangerous category 5 storm closing roads and bridges, clogging highways and storm shelters and taxing the human resources and budget of this large rural county in Northwest Florida. Fortunately this emergency was planned and monitored by DSI (Disasters, Strategies and Ideas, LLC) from Tallahassee, Florida, as law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire departments, public works managers, county commissioners, corrections department officials and education leaders came together in Wausau, Florida to plan for this mock ‘worstcase’ scenario.

County systems management personnel worked together in the state-of-the-art EOC facility in Wausau for a full day, barraged by a constant stream of simulated ‘breaking news’ about the storm, named for Roger Dale Hagan, Emergency Operations Manager for Washington County. In an interview with Joe Myers, current CEO of DSI, on ‘Real Florida TV’, Myers explained that his firm works with city and county emergency operations department to help prepare for mass casualty scenarios, emergency management, and technical assistance for disaster preparedness and response.

‘What we are seeing here in Washington County is a very positive cooperation between departments and an overall understanding and grasp of basic emergency protocols,’ stated Myers ‘and we are very pleased with the results of this drill. There is no completely ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to handle these emergencies, as they are all very different, but in common is the need for good communication and cooperation, and we are seeing that here today’.

Formerly serving as the Director of the State Emergency Management Agency for the State of Florida, Myers was directly responsible for the State’s Emergency Response Plan after Hurricane Andrew and ensuring coordination among cities, counties, and the state in preparation for natural disasters and in response to them. ‘This is the best response we have ever enjoyed in a mock disaster scenario’, stated EOC Manager Roger Hagan, between meetings with department heads and county officials. ‘This strong participation points to the fact that we are sensitive to the possibility that we will at some time or another have to deal with a situation which will tax our resources and call for complete cooperation between county departments’.

Gloria Perryman