ISSUES 2018 06/18/18

Steve McIntosh
Wednesday, June 13th

Interim Sedgwick County Emergency Management director Cody Charvat discusses preparation for any disaster


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

She's 28 Tina and Steve Macintosh and I guess is Cody Charlotte. Interim director Cedric county emergency management welcomed issues Tony eighteen Cody thanks stick I don't your I've known you for so many years and how you pronounce your last you've got to its debt on Sharma yeah okay. How long you've been with the century counted up. Fairly well with the county I've been there since 99 so it into my twentieth year and the first ten more spent at emergency communications 911. And for the last nine plus years of men in emergency management now I think I thought you'd been a dispatcher and that's what you're taught right. What can the job is if I tell you what that is those are some of the hardest working and most underpaid people in the county anywhere they. They just go through such a high stress job. Day in day out it's so hard to keep people because the job burns a melt very quickly. And so there's always a staff shortage there always fighting you know with overtime issues those are those of us are the unsung heroes. Uga usually who even a broadcaster Jim meaning I mean you're bright capture show where yours and you don't you check and it was those people and talk remember renowned in his. The reporters they put in earning well they yeah it seems like it's quite stressful job it is a heroic job honestly but. Nature don't get the recognition that it now that's I don't want to sound like their administration doesn't care him because he administration does they are absolutely promote them and do whatever they can't get. To keep their employees happy but it's the job itself Malia that because nobody's calling them on a good day they're always call on amongst one of the worst days of their lives and it and it. They wanted to yell at somebody they can't yell at who their bad -- of the Elton dispatchers did this swapping things you know voice sound do responsibility. Eaten that they have on the phone to try to make sure that again thanks strike right at it's not always easy to put those pieces together we know that sounds easy but you. Everybody's job sounds he did you definitely have to do it. Get this idea of the size of your department Cody then how many people what your facilities like things like well we are in the the public safety building downtown at 714 north main were on the first Lorne dispatches on the second floor. And the main room of our facility is the emergency operations and her son went through at the Akron and EOC quite a bit during this probably. So of it that's what I'm talking about the emergency operations that are. Our staff right nail I hate this seriously depleted we we're still looking at. Hiring a full time director. And are warning systems and coordinator John Crosby who's been with the caddie full time for 26 years plus another twelve years is a volunteers at 38 years total. He's retiring effective the end of this month so. Eventually we hope to get back to a full staff of six who came on remember that in Crosby of them know his name out of me madam over the years. What kind of budget do you have there. That's a gigantic yeah exactly yeah. You know what I should know the answer to that because I just had to work on the budget for the first year as interim director and I cannot remember the size of large budget up to come and I apologize to give us via. Give us an idea of your basic mission of emergencies when you. You know that's that's a good question because a lot of folks out there in the community probably don't have a really good idea one that I go out do a lot of teaching a lot of introductions to emergency management episode but I said. Our act pop quiz time take got a piece of paper you can write an essay on what emergency management does and you see that fear in the eyes focusing on just getting. But if if I was serious you know I would expect that to be kind of hard because most of what we do is behind the scenes we don't want to be in the public eye could usually. If your emergency managers very visible means something bad has gone on in your community here a year in the middle of the disaster. So what we try and do is before the disaster a lot of planning and preparation. Helping folks to try and mitigate against the effect of disasters. We worked with off all partners across the entire community first responder faith based private organizations. Just to try and make sure that the community is as ready to respond as possible as resilient as possible. And actually one of the best ways to make sure the entire community is ready is to make sure individual households are ready. So we do a lot of outreach to community groups and just talk about the basics of emergencies preparation still can't make plans to import to you fly into action during severe weather events that it. How do you prepare for other possible disasters well we use what we call at all hazards approach to disaster preparedness we have a hazard analysis where we've looked at all the different things it could go wrong in our county and we mapped out like 34 different options now we don't expect people have 34 different plans. So we say use an all hazards approach which basically the concept behind that is if you do it properly. If you prepare for one disaster of a certain type you're really preparing for all disasters that affect you that same way and good illustration of that is. Let's say the power is going to be out at your home for the next week. Does that really matter if the reason the power is going to be out is because a tornado came through and rip down the power lines or ice storm came through and are on the violence. What no what matters at the end of the day is I'm not gonna have power for the next week how to light heat or cool my home had I feed my family that type of things so. We tell people basically comes down to have a two types of plant a shelter in place plan. And an evacuation plan. And if you. Have put a few twist on each one of those you're going to be properly prepared for just about any disaster. More about the man in a minute details like him what you're telling me is I remembered. Something from Boy Scouts that said be prepared exactly like yeah Boy Scouts and emergency managers go hand in hand. You have levels or categories of emergency situations we do we I mentioned the embassy earlier enacted nations for that we have basically three different levels of that. Will go into a monitoring mode anytime that something just pops up on our radar whether it's a real rate or virtual radar. If there's a high threat for severe weather and storms or start a fire in Kingman county here Barbara county. Well we'll keep an eye on him just in case they start moving this way there's no need to take action yet just keep an an island on the situation. Same thing if you know we've we've had a different monitoring situations where we thought there might be chance for civil unrest after this that the other thing. We're monitoring the police radio were monitoring our partners and what they're doing. And then the next level for that is a partial activation. Something has hit or something his about to hit and we're starting to bring people together there's a high probability this is going to escalate let's put it that way. And so we might bring together two or three key partners. So that we can beat proactive instead of reactive. And then the third level is full activation it's hit it's pretty bad we need to get everybody into the room and that's 21 different agencies in our you'll see we need to get everybody in there and let's sit down let's figure out how bad it is. And how we're gonna handle this do we need to keep everybody here can we send certain sectors home. That excitement that he's and a lot of people in your Korb of six people. How about training for all of these votes we do a lot of training ourselves we we bring in even more training from outside providers are a lot of of federally funded courses out there. That we bring in from all over the country those Indus instructors that at no cost us it's all FEMA funded. So we do a lot of training that way then of course what will work with the any idea. The local partners to it to do their own internal training if they need and a lot of times they don't need to assert they're taking care of that themselves but. Yeah what were the bigger picture we try and to take the lead on getting those folks. The end into training classes and talk about Cody fuel some of the emergencies you responded to in recent years. Well. Actually Tony massive 1 and I am remember the only big one that we've had in my entire time there is the April 14 2012 tornado that hit Oakmont and southeast Wichita. That was. Multi operational period we were in the year you'll see for. About 36 hours until we we stood down operations are but of course is the the end. The effects out in the field for a lot longer than that there was a long time and a recovery in their may even be people are still working on recovered on the recovery after disasters. Can sometimes take. Years upon years even down in Greensboro and there probably still. You know elements of recovery in effect there. The other things that we've dealt with recently mow most recently would probably be flooding events. That we had down down in derby involving you might remember the old settlers day flood. That and then. There was another flood a month after that to 500 year flood events within about a month which is exceedingly rare. You you know you don't know I'm just thinking about what happens if there's that kind of emergency mpeg two is so much confusion. You've got to get in there as it is that you guys who get in there and try to make some sense. How many were injured how many house or him things like that yeah get some numbers for us media time. You know they've all got their own silo their own agency their own department we say okay first of all look down your silo see what your department is doing what the effect is on you and then look up. Will go around the room everybody will kind of give us an update on what their agencies impact is what they're doing on the field. And then. We're all monitoring the same radios it's going to the dispatch and so as they're reporting in houses that are damaged injuries fatalities god forbid all that type of stuff. We're putting it together we've got our own internally develop. And information management program its color. And that's what we use for that situation awareness to your right that's critical in order if it's a big disaster one of the first and he got to figure out is how bad is it. Where do we need to send our resources that we haven't got them to yet. And and that's the kind of information management that we're doing in the OC we're doing other things as well we're not running the incidents from there were doing support. But one of the biggest support functions weeks we can serve. Is getting all that information together soared decision makers like you know that the commissioners are the mayor of the affected jurisdiction whatever they've got one place that they can go and and look for all that informative but because they've got to figure out how big thing all exactly right they they don't know how much help they're going to need to ask from the state for example or it can we handle it here locally and get appointee do you coordinate with the state yes all coordination with the state for disaster has to go through the county emergency manager who can any city that tries to go to. You know but do an end run around that go directly to the state. They're gonna get told have you talked to your marriage seem energy get in if the answer is now that's the into the conversation jackets okay. Hey what's the hardest part of dealing with a an emergency from firmware for your from your perspective Cody. Wealth and I think just what we were talking about before getting a handle on the information flow first up. Because there it is just such a chaotic mess in the immediate aftermath. Of any disaster. No you know you're getting reports. Situation eighth from one unit in the field in this somebody else comes up on another channel and and tell you something slightly different. And then you've got to confirm that so. Trying to get a handle on that information and the end informing the public of what's really true. You know sometimes information doesn't come out as quickly as folks would like but we don't wanna give you bad information and then have to do a retraction thirty minutes later. So we take a little bit tied to make sure we're getting everything out there and and then letting the public know exactly what it is they need to do. And molesting two issues funny eighteen on the other camera you decisions are guesses go to charity. In this interim director Cedric county emergency management talk a little bit about severe weather emergencies the first thing people think about it is. And it's at at exactly right. And with good reason tornadoes get the most attention around here for sure one of the things I preach constantly in my severe weather safety classes is it does not take a tornado. The tie the severe thunderstorms that we can see around here they can produce winds that are strong and have hailed it as big enough to do damage injuries even fatalities sometimes. There was any a to ratio of it which is a very strong straight line wind maintain across hundreds of miles. Knocking over homes mobile homes all that type of thing that and then blew through southeast Kansas a couple years back and just a wind event. And I don't wanna say that you know people here can't see me on doing your quotes straight win but a straight line wind is capable of doing that kind so that's a big thing now. Back to the tornadoes you know we do have a year a spotter network of volunteers that we use. Were also tied in with the National Weather Service in dollar media partners like king in SS. And as that information is coming in from our people. Or information is coming in from your spotters from the the TV spotters whatever it is were all proving that information together now. We have something almost hate to use this term does it almost six sound trivial but we have much special chat Graham. That all the members of the media the National Weather Service and the emergency managers around the state are part of and it has increased our communication to Billy so much it's just ridiculous there have been multiple times I have been sitting in the EOC. With a TVs on at the front of the room. I type in a report from my spotter Internet chat room. And with literally within ten seconds. I'm here to read back to me from the TV at the front of the room I mean that's just unheard of to have that type of instant Jenrette that type of instant communication with with the public so. It has been a great help and it's a job that we take her seriously we you know it I mentioned earlier are monitoring activities. Any time were under submit threat for severe weather were communicating with all our partners before and our schools our police fire EMS people that work outside that type of thing. Then as the situation starts to unfold we're keeping an eye on it we're trying to keep the public informed. You know entity to contrast of the way that the information moves like you just gave a terrific example. Two that I know that you worked in radio years ago on and you know if you can been watching how this is developed over the years. This it instantaneous. Information. Yes to save lives Cody. I'll ask him yeah he was and that does. And were around were working on either an even better ways that we can to get information directly to the public. I mentioned are he blogger emergency luck it's part of and have our application are said to Kenny government app. And you may have some questions about that later but since it's it's tied into what we're talk command now go ahead folks in on if they download the app to their phone. They can have access to that same emergency law that I was talking about now they're not gonna see everything that we're posting internally. But everything that we want to share with the public and their slots that we share with the public all the spotter reports and things like that during the disaster. We're gonna share in two RE law and folks can see that. And it's not quite there yet will really close to adding a new enhancement to this that folks is I think it's going to be really is time critical life saving. It's akin to. And number wireless emergency alerts and you know what those who are your phones that that are based on your those are based on GPS but it's a part of the emergency alert system that. Since specific message to your phone about what's going on will work coming up we're developing. A feature for our app that we can post basically an emergency notification to our Elon. And it will chime more blows your phone or whatever it is to let you know you've just received an emergency alert from Cedric county emergency management. Folks go look it up and it doesn't have to be weather related it can be any type of disaster relation and we're all we're gonna make sure that we don't over use it it's only going to be used in in life threatening situations can connect. Now in new also respond to cold weather emergencies. Well it was much publicity and you're right we got a lot of what we do in the cold weather part of it is preparation just reminding folks hey have that. They whether time disaster kit in your car. The basic things that you might need some extra foods and extra water and KG gets stranded in the snow banks and where. We've include things like a shovel if you wanna try to dig yourself out kitty litter is good for getting traction and I asked and that type of thing those are some things that we recommend. Now the state. If if we're looking at a really big snow event for example. The state now will send out the National Guard and some emergency response team. That will help people who get stuck in the snow bank we seem that a lot recently but it's all been up along the I seventy court or because they've there's a home but stricken snow the last several years. How nobody should call Lou unfamiliar people in disaster strikes. Who carries responsibility well it starts with our emergency management duty officer. And that we rotate among the staff who ever has that responsibility. Usually it's going to be pretty obvious what's going on but if they're not sure if they'll just coordinate with whoever the that their boss is which right now is me or. Or if I'm not sure all while it was my boss the director of public safety in most. Will make a decision you know do we need to activate for this. It's really easy to do partial activation it's it's a and it's easy to do full activation it just involves a lot more moving parts. I'm so witnessed something like this comes up. How how do you VA in that situation. You turn into the general Patton. I try not to because when that misery I could pretty much yeah I don't care who's there to start the taller midfielder in this doing that well it is you know they understand shirt. They do somebody needs to be in charge of the show got somebody needs to be the stage director and in the emergency operations center at that falls on the emergency manager. We're not running the event if it's a fire event if it's a wild land fire for example fighters going to be in command especially on the field now fire is going to be the one. That we're turning to the most frequently in the EOC. But still there needs to be somebody that says okay folks I needed to do this here and get on the microphone it's okay five minutes from now we're gonna have a report out around the room. And then when that five minutes is up OK it's time for report out we're going to you first go that type but think and that yes that does fall on the emergency manager and that's and accepted role by everybody in the room. Do you. Do educating with the schools use that Kenneth I do as much with the schools as I can any any invitation any opportunity I can get it to get out with the schools allowed to get out and talk to the kids. May not be strictly in the schools to like during the summer. Mays PD does what they call 911 camp all weeklong well and they just bring in all kinds of different first responders. From 911 from police fire share all those types of things I take my tornado machine out there and talk to kids and so. That gives me a little hook to get their attention in the league and start talking about you know. Sure I and it's like I tell them. Most of what you have to do in preparation it's going to be your parents' responsibilities but there are things that kids can help with that can say hey mom and dad did you remember to pack. Pet food for four pet. Did GR a and I and church and look at your mom and dad probably know where you're supposed to go for a tornado shelter. But have they ever talk to you about it so talk to your mom and dad make sure you know. Where in the house were supposed to shelter. Where is our evacuation point just outside the house if we all have to get out for fire we should all gather at the mailbox at the tree in the neighbors yard whatever it might be. That is a basically for everything that's true house fire anything yet where is that gathering point out exactly because if it you know and everybody knows and a fire you get out quickest way possible. But if I go out the south side door eagle at the back door and my brother goes out the front door first and we just stayed there exactly where is Mac you know and all that together at one point so we can't noses and make sure but is it accounted for the count your working relationship with other local cities and other counties you keep in touch and I like to think it's great on both levels certainly on the city level we have somebody right now that. That's their title is community liaison. And she makes contact with them on a somewhat regular basis just to make sure. I get requests all the time from from different cities within that the county appeared that you know they would like or help with this project of that project moralis responsive to them. As far as the other counties in the region out emergency management is very regional based we. We recognize that you know your first help in these big disasters are going to be the people right around you in the other counties your mutual aid your other emergency managers. And then we have regional meetings on a regular basis had when just earlier this month then again in Winfield. And Dan as soon as it turns out I I just happen to be on the board of directors for the Kansas emergency management association on the south central regional vice president. So I I help maintain not just the Centre county relationship with these other counties. But all I helped as much as I can do in the communication between all counties in our region. And we've got a great group of people that around here there's there's lots of very good relationships there are very confident in the the quality of help that would come if we needed to get everything you need for most media coach Tony. I think so do they the question is do you get everything you need from us and answer there I'm not dot Sherwin a theory but I bet that. Among the Bradley is had a good relationship I think it is yeah an and it's got a lot better in recent years. I mentioned the chat room that we are all part of and that's a byproduct to of National Weather Service can acting as the go between between all of us because. Especially when it comes to whether we all have the same interest then that's serving the public and keeping people safe keeping people alive. So I think it's it's gotten a lot better at the they have a an annual meeting called the integrated warning team. Al note Lyons is usually where we have it. And it's it's been a great thing but it it at least on the weather side but it could improve those relationships what's the biggest challenge junior Jenna. Well. Depends on on on where we're at in terms of operations. It day to day my biggest challenges just paperwork any government jobs got paperwork the for days now. And in disaster operations down. I which again there's a lot of paperwork that has to go on but I've got a lot more help for that. That then the biggest challenge the biggest hardest part is is that information gathering what's it what makes a jump on. All of it now be talking to people why I love doing that I do the annual severe weather safety classes every year so there's 2526. Of those right there. And then I'll do dozens upon dozens of community outreach and and training. Presentations throughout the year. My background in income from college was in that radio TV and film so. I've gotten with our communications department there and we do a lot of training videos which I really enjoy doing too. I know I knew that two of us you hinted that the media background and him we've known each other for a long time you know who sail on oh Nell. But. Where you fraud. I'm grown up around here I it would born and raised under bill playing in some accounting and Dan had lived here basically all my life. Benjamin you were a kid did you do you do each of you probably want to do something you movement when you grew up I don't know what did what you'll have been Whitaker this is this question I ask people well. Interest and that's what I care river if you knew the deal to many answered if you're just trying to get the two year actually my yen might first. College experience straight at a high school I was in the Catholic seminary. And so I thought for number OK so you didn't remember that are right I don't know that had never kill up or not. But yeah I was actually a steady decrease when it's on that now OK well. And actually. When I when I decided to leave the seminary what I wanted to get into was public safety. Well and so I have a lot of years as a volunteer in in fire department background in Eunice. It's a bit I've got beat Michael and I asked that I didn't do the company. It explains a lot a lot of people listening to them it might not have known that about either so I spilled out exists Cody Sharon to interim director Cedric county emergency management thanks for being with us Cody that's off on this edition of issue -- eighteen it. Will be back next week thank you for listing I'm Steve Macintosh.