Dougherty County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Jim Vaught explains some of what the EMA does to prepare for mitigate and deal with natural and man-made disasters. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)
2014 Hurricane Season Preparedness
Dougherty County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Jim Vaught gives an overview of inclement weather preparedness to members of the Kiwanis Club of Dougherty County.
ALBANY — As the 2014 Hurricane Season gets under way, Dougherty County’s Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Jim Vaught has been making the rounds lately letting locals know some of what the organization is doing to help prepare for disasters, both natural and man-made.
Vaught addressed the Kiwanis Club of Albany and gave the membership an overview of organization and some of the key ways in which it works to plan for, mitigate and deal with disasters.
“Our mission is very simple,” Vaught said. “Our whole job is to protect life and the property of the citizens of Dougherty County.”
The chief way in which the EMA is able to achieve its goal is through a comprehensive disaster plan, which Vaught helped write in 2003 that studies possible threats and prioritizes them, while also outlining a plan to deal with each one.
“What is does is looks at all the natural and man-made disasters that may befall our community and prioritize those and build toward being able to mitigate those,” Vaught said.”Although we can’t necessarily prevent disasters what we try to do is mitigate those.”
Vaught said each piece of the EMA team, from first responders such the fire department, the police department and emergency medical service, to volunteers engage in regular training in order to be prepared for what might arise.
Those involved participate in classroom training, computer-based training and real world training to hone their skills and make sure emergencies are handled accordingly.
“We also do a tremendous amount of training,” Vaught said. “Every month we’re doing some sort of exercise. Just like in the Marine Corps, the more you train during peace time the less you bleed during war.”
Another key component of preparedness is proper communication and partnerships with other groups. To ensure this, Vaught said the Dougherty County EMA is part of the larger Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) Area 2 made up of 23 counties that have a mutual aid agreement to help each other in times of crisis.
EMA also takes advantage of an 800hz radio system, of which Albany is the hub, that allows EMA workers to communicate across a large geography, which greatly increases efficiency.
Vaught said management level EMA employees also have to proficient in the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which allows them to communicate with EMA workers throughout the country by using the same terminology to discuss emergencies and disasters.