City, county complete emergency plan

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Local officials have finished updating an emergency operations plan that will provide guidelines to follow in the event a natural or other disaster should occur.

Though a plan was approved in 1995, issues such as Sept. 11 and changes within law enforcement and Emergency Medical Services have caused it to become outdated and rarely used, said Chuck Haman, Roosevelt County emergency management director.

“It was just outdated. A new emergency operations plan is desperately needed; we are almost there,” Haman said.

Kathy Wells of Wells Consulting in Roswell is helped develop the new plan, Haman said.

Wells said the project is nearing completion. The proposal was mailed Friday for approval to the office of Emergency Management for the State of New Mexico in Santa Fe.

Written into the proposed plan are 77 criteria required by the state to be included. Once the plan is approved, Wells will deliver the proposal to Haman and the city council for their approval, she said.

“It’s a living, breathing document that can be changed to fit the needs of the community,” said Wells.

The plans covers topics such as communications, warning systems, law enforcement, fire and medical services and terrorism. The proposal assigns personnel to handle certain situations and describes what roles they will play in a situation, Wells said.

“It (the proposal) describes the players and process and how the incident will be managed and by whom,” said Wells.

In the event a disaster were to occur, Haman would set up the command post. From there, contact would be made with local entities and with the state to assess the situation and begin obtaining any resources that may be needed, Haman said.

“In some cases, we may have to declare a state of emergency in order to free up some of the available resources,” said Haman.

Roosevelt County Sheriff Darren Hooker emphasized that in the event of a disaster, he would utilize the deputies on patrol to help assess the situation. The next step would be decided and set into motion, he said.

During recent disasters, such as the wildfires and response to hurricane victims, community resources have been readily available to provide food, shelter or other assistance, Haman said.

“Our community resources have been tremendous,” said Haman.