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March 12, 2008 - Dan Voigt
In my duties at the paper, I landed the job (I'm still investigating that deal) a few years back of being the Public Information Officer for Palo Alto County's Emergency Managment Agency. In plainspeak, if the county gets in a jam due to flooding, weather or something, I have to be the one who issues the information to the public and the media (hey, neat connection there, isn't it?) that is released by the officials handling the situation. Let's say there was flooding, and it looked like evacuations might be needed for the long term. The way that the government has evolved since the 9/11 attacks, there is a whole series of procedures, called Incident Command or National Incident Management, designed to provide a chain of command in an emergency. Simply stated, if the Emergency Management Director, Mark Hunefeld, needed someone to make public announcements, that'd be me. Understanding all that, I've been attending meetings of the Palo Alto County Bio-Emergency group, made up of Public Health, Emergency Medical Services, Environmental Health, Law Enforcement, Fire and Emergency Management. We meet every month, and discuss training exercises, training requirements, and, for lack of a better phrase, discuss "What ifs...." In one meeting a ways back, an idea was raised for a scenario for a drill involving a large segment of the population becoming ill and requiring the activation of the Incident Command System. But the whole idea is that while some things are just not discussed all that much, there are some who do think about those possibilities, not because they enjoy it, but because they understand the importance of caring for their fellow passengers on this spaceship Earth. We're not doomsayers, by any means. We plan so that if the worse should happen, we hope we can respond in an intelligent and measured response. Don't think that we have the answers - we can only plan to the best of our abilities. That's why we discuss doom and gloom, in the best spirit of the Boy Scouts. Wish us luck...
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