— Kay Allen, Emergency Planning Coordinator
As the Emergency Planning Coordinator for the City of Dripping Springs, my job is to find ways to deal with hazards and disasters that may affect our community. It’s a team effort that involves first responders (fire department, EMS, law enforcement), church groups, community civic groups and service organizations, volunteers, businesses, and citizens.
We start by discovering and prioritizing the hazards we face whether natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or other man-made disasters such as chemical spills, pipeline ruptures, etc. For us, the most common causes of natural disasters are wildland fires and flash flooding of our low water creeks.
The next step is determining what, if any, actions we can take to minimize the impact of each type of hazard. Prevention is the best way to do that, but we know we can’t prevent all possible bad events, so we must prepare to handle those that do occur. Having well-trained and equipped first responders who plan and practice effective responses is essential to preparedness. Arranging for mutual aid from neighboring communities is also part of preparing for the worst, and it’s a longstanding custom among firefighters, EMS, and law enforcement.
Recovery from disasters is often overlooked as a part of emergency management, but it’s key to the health of the community. As we have seen recently, the economic health of a community can be undermined by a disaster, so restoring the infrastructure and helping business and industry return to normal functioning is vital to making the area livable again.
The City of Dripping Springs Emergency Management Commission is a relatively new, but increasingly important part of emergency planning. Like other city commissions, its members are volunteers appointed by the city council. The twelve members represent constituencies such as first responders, local businesses, volunteer organizations, faith-based and non-profit groups, and citizens at large.
Emergency planning is best done as a team effort. We need and welcome involvement from citizens who are interested in contributing to the process. If you would like to participate, contact me at city hall or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, the Emergency Management Commission meets on the third Thursday of the month at 5:00 pm in the Board Room at the DSISD Administration Building. Meetings are open to the public, and there is an opportunity for public comment. Y’all come and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
About the Blogger
Kay Allen has been a resident of Dripping Springs since 1983. She served for 20+ years with North Hays County Volunteer Fire Department and EMS. Allen is also retired from the U.T. Austin Division of Continuing Education.