Highlights from the 2012 Chatham County Hurricane Conference
The 2012 Chatham County Hurricane Conference hosted by CEMA was the biggest yet, held on May 1 at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center. 389 people attended the one-day event focused on hurricane planning, response, and recovery. Philip Weber, Preparedness Program Manager for Witt Associates and former Director of CEMA, said what once started as a small scale conference has increased in strength. "It's just grown exponentially and it's a tribute to your partners, to the people across the county that breathe life into your hurricane planning and hurricane program," said Weber.
This year's conference featured 27 different workshops geared toward a variety of topics including volunteer management, damage assessment, first responder safety, public assistance and public information. Charley English, Director of Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), kicked off the conference and the guest speaker of the conference was Dennis Manley, Director of Quality and Risk Management at St. John's Regional Medical Center. Manley spoke about the evacuation of the hospital following a devastating EF-5 tornado that ripped through Joplin, Missouri last year.
Something new to the conference was a panel discussion focused on Hurricane Recovery. Panelists from Georgia Department of Transportation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Georgia National Guard, Georgia Power and GEMA took questions from the audience to provoke a discussion on hurricane recovery. The goal of the panel was to discuss where we are in hurricane planning, where we need to be and how we get there.
Partners from Chatham County agencies and organizations as well as individuals from surrounding counties attended the conference and for Pooler Fire Chief Wade Simmons, the interaction with other agencies is a key element in his disaster planning. "Us dealing with fire rescue in general, we don't get a lot of the disaster planning and some of the other stuff you would normally see. Coming here it gets our feet wet, gets us some contacts, we can see what that information is and we start moving forward," said Simmons.