The Waxahachie City Council approved an ordinance that would allow the city to enter into its own emergency management program.
This program separates the city from the Ellis County inter-jurisdictional emergency management program. The decision came Monday night at a regularly scheduled city council meeting.
For the past three years, the city has been working to its own program. The city council established the Office of Emergency Management in 1981. This allowed the mayor to enter into a multi-jurisdictional emergency management program with the county. Under this program, emergency management duties were administered by the county judge and coordinated by a county employee.
“It is a project that we have worked pretty actively on for nearly three years now. It is a program we have constructed from the ground up, so it is a major accomplishment in which many senses feel like the end of the road, but it is actually the beginning,” said Lt. Marcus Brown, the city's Emergency Management Coordinator. “Now, it is an active and fully functioning program and we have got to get work on what active and full functioning programs do. A lot training. A lot of public information efforts will begin. We will see a lot of those stuff coming out soon. After training comes exercises, drills and workshops.”
Brown said the next step in the process is to submit the plan to the Texas Division of Emergency Management office for review. The city also must send a letter to County Judge Carol Bush and all the participating jurisdictions that are apart of the county’s plan. The letter will state the city will separate from the county plan within 60 days. Within those 60 days, the state has 45 days to review the plan and either approve or deny it.
The city’s new emergency plan is structured into three tiers: the basic plan, its supporting annexes, and department level standard operating procedures and guidelines. Each annex describes how a different function of emergency management will be operated by the city. Some of the other topics covered include communications, evacuation, firefighting, law enforcement, heath and medical services, public information, resource management and search and rescue. The plan also lays out specific guidelines and tasks for city staff.
“I think that Marcus has worked really hard putting everything together. He has worked really closely with the state to make sure that we are doing everything right,” City Manager Paul Stevens said. “I think that for a city our size it is the best thing to do.”
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