Houston County leaders push talks about emergency preparedness

Houston County leaders push collaborative talks about emergency preparedness. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Houston County leaders push collaborative talks about emergency preparedness. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

HOUSTON CO., AL (WSFA) - Houston County's Emergency Management Agency and County Commissioners are pushing to bring together department heads to discuss the county's response to emergencies.

Thursday, department heads met at the Houston County Emergency Management Office for the first of a series of meetings. The meeting focused on discussing goals in the county's emergency response.

Representatives from the road and bridge department, probate judge's office, revenue commission, and county administrators attended the meeting.

The discussion ranged from response to an active shooter to a natural disaster and every emergency scenario between.

"We want to be prepared for anything," said Mark Culver, Houston County Commission Chairman.

Houston County covers about 500 square miles and is home to about 105,000 people – not including the people who travel through the county for work or leisure.

"We want to make sure their public safety is seen about," said Houston County EMA Director Chris Judah.

Safety preparation has taken a new tone.

"We want to make sure when it happens here – and notice I said when. There's an event coming. We don't know what it is – may be weather or it may be something else. We don't want it. We're not provoking it. We're not inviting it, but when it does happen, we're going to respond and have our people ready and we'll be able to take care of our citizens," said Judah.

Part of making sure Houston County is ready involves making sure each county department understands its role in helping people in an emergency situation and how they work together.

"We want to ensure that they know what we do," said Judah. "We want to make sure we understand what they do so we can communicate and use their resources as one."

County leaders are also stressing the importance of accountability in emergencies.

"Our EMA staff, our partnership with the city, our volunteers – all are right at the point of protecting us, but our normal clerks and the people who work in our department offices, they don't think about it every day," said Culver.

During Thursday's meeting, EMA leaders urged county officials to identify several representatives from their department who could assist during emergencies.

County officials plan to meet again within the next few weeks. During the next meeting, department leaders are set to discuss emergency plans.

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