Thursday, May 27, 2010

Columbia County Capability Assessment Workshop

Columbia County Emergency Management hosted their first annual Capability Assessment Workshop on Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 at the Seneca activity building in Dayton.

Darrell Ruby, Region 9 Coordinator for Homeland Security was the facilitator for the workshop.

Preparedness is everyone's responsibility. Knowledgeable, empowered individuals and communities can make choices that minimize the impact of emergencies and disasters. Local governments educate and prepare communities, mitigate risks, and provide first response and recovery assistance. Voluntary organizations and businesses aid these efforts. Regional partner governments and communities augment local resources when necessary. Because major events can exceed the normal operating capacity of any single discipline, a collaborative, multi-discipline approach is needed to plan and prepare for major events.

The assessment was the first step in the annual preparedness cycle: assess capabilities, identify gaps and priorities, update strategic and multi-year plans, invest to fill gaps, and reassess capabilities.

The information gathered at the workshop will be compiled and shared with Region 9 Homeland Security Counties (Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Whitman and the Kalispell and Spokane Tribes). This information will serve as a guide for identifying and prioritizing investments when working to establish a capability. It will also help implement appropriate hazard mitigation strategies, and prepare for hazards and emergencies individual counties cannot mitigate on their own in order to have an effective response and recovery system in place.

In attendance were a well rounded group of multi-discipline stakeholders from throughout the County. Such stakeholders included, Columbia County Extension Agent, Columbia REA, Puget Sound Energy, Chamber of Commerce, Columbia County Fire District 1 and 3, Columbia County EMS, Columbia County Sheriff's Office and Communications, Blue Mountain chapter of the Red Cross, Columbia County Engineer and Public Works, Columbia County Transportation, Columbia County Public Health, Washington Department of Transportation and Mayor's from the City of Dayton and the Town of Starbuck.

The information provided to us from this group was invaluable. They are an integral resource to Emergency Management and Columbia County as a whole. When you see someone from any of the entities mentioned above tell them thank you for participating in making our community a safer place to live.

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