Editor’s Note: Veronica Taylor is a consultant specializing in disaster preparedness, response and recovery. She previously worked with The Patterson Foundation to help deepen its understanding of the disaster space. As a guest blogger, she will cover issues relevant to the disaster sector.
As I mentioned in my last blog, Sarasota County often serves as a model for the rest of Florida and the nation as a disaster-resilient community. This can be attributed to the leadership of the Sarasota County Emergency Management Office. Ed McCrain, Emergency Management Chief, routinely meets with the disaster relief organizations, faith-based organizations, neighborhood groups, and the business/industry sectors. He is well connected with the State and National disaster leadership and works closely with the surrounding counties.
Sarasota County Emergency Management directs the emergency support functions, relying on qualified agencies to act as leads for each function. There are 18 Emergency Support Functions (ESF) that are responsible for segments of disaster preparedness. They are:
-Search and Rescue
- Hazardous Materials and Response
While most of the support functions have to do with infrastructure and immediate rescue and response services, Mass Care (ESF6), Health/Medical/Human Services (ESF8) and Volunteers/Donations (ESF 15) focus on helping people to rebuild their lives. Donors primarily focused on these three support functions.
Within each emergency support function, there may be a number of Strike Teams that specialize on a special skill or segment of the population. For example, under Health/Medical/Human Services (ESF8), there are strike teams for developmental disabilities, elder care, homeless, mental health and substance abuse, and youth and families.
Several times a year, the ESF teams and the strike teams get together at the Emergency Operations Center and go through disaster drills using the webEOC system to manage numerous “inputs”, unexpected needs created by the disaster. Every month, the group meets under the auspice of reviewing action items and sharing new ideas.
The truth is, they’re solidifying relationships. When that disaster bullet hits, and it will, it’s those relationships that will set Sarasota County on the path to recovery.
Do you know your emergency management leadership and the community’s supporting organizations? Check it out and let me know what’s special about your communities preparedness at firstname.lastname@example.org .