Commissioners review emergency plan
By LPR Staff
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. on Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush called for a uniform emergency management system under the Office of Homeland Security.
The National Incident Management System (NIMS) was released in its final state on March 1, 2004. On Monday, the Caldwell Coun
ty Commissioners Court signed a resolution adopting the NIMS model.
According to Emergency Management Coordinator Lynn Parker, state and local governments were required to accept the NIMS system by Fiscal Year 2005 in order to be eligible for some federal grants, contracts and activities related to emergency management.
“Participation in NIMS is not mandated yet,” Parker said. “But it will likely be tied to future funding.”
Parker said the NIMS system covers a number of different emergency management contingencies, but focuses primarily on how “mutual aid” responders will cooperate in the event of a major emergency, such as a terrorist attack, hurricane or major flood.
“It basically says we”re going to ignore the “rank and file” of each department,” he said. “Working with the mutual responders, we will put the most experienced person in charge of an emergency situation.”
Parker said that emergency personnel with different areas of expertise would be tapped for different situations. For instance, a fire marshal might be put in charge of a major fire, while an EMS person would direct a catastrophic injury situation.
Parker further explained that mutual aid agreements must be on file for one organization to ask for reimbursement when another organization provides a “mutual aid” service.
“We already have mutual aid agreements with all of the counties,” said County Judge H.T. Wright. “I don”t think that it was ever the intent of the counties to charge each other for mutual aid service.”
Under the NIMS system, Parker said there is a possibility that first-responder training might be required in the future. Should such training become a requirement, he committed to finding a way to work with the paid and volunteer fire departments and other first-responders to coordinate the training.
In other Court business:
Caldwell County renewed two contracts with The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG). Both contracts have a direct bearing on 9-1-1 service in Caldwell County.
The first is a commitment for Public Service Answering Points (PSAPs) to be provided by the Caldwell County Sheriff”s Department to CAPCOG. Under the contract, the county agrees to provide office supplies, equipment upgrades and training for dispatchers in the PSAPs. In return, CAPCOG will reimburse the county in the amount of $500.
The second contract is for the Enhanced 9-1-1 Database Program. The contract requires the county to coordinate the Geographic Information System (GIS) within the county. The GIS system calls for development of a database of all addresses, city limits, street centerlines and common places within incorporated areas of the county. The coordinator is responsible for gathering the information and maintaining seamless 9-1-1 coverage throughout the county. In return CAPCOG will reimburse the county for the salary of 9-1-1 Coordinator Darla Law.
As an aside to the discussion, Wright mentioned that the Senate appropriations committee has chosen to cut the budget for 9-1-1 in the next fiscal year.
“We”re only getting about 95 percent of what we were budgeted last year,” he said. “They told us that if we need more money, we should raise fees.”
Wright blasted the Senate for the decision, stating that his understanding of the statute setting 9-1-1 fees calls for a reduction in fees if the fees generate a surplus. Presently, there is about a 12-cent surplus from each 50-cent fee.
The commissioners heard a request on behalf of Mary Vega to sell a 1.5-acre tract from a five-acre property located on FM 713. The commissioners granted the request, with the stipulation that, should the property owner decide to sell any more of the property, she will have to apply to have the land replatted.
In brief Court news:
The commissioners approved County Extension Agent Sarah Montgomery”s activity report for May 2005.
The county paid bills in the amount of $113,686.79. Of this amount, $13,143.95 was for indigent health care and $8,725.50 was for indigent legal defense.
The Caldwell County Unit Road System continues their work mowing, cutting brush and repairing damaged roads.