Last week, hundreds of firefighters, EMS workers and first responders met at the 2010 South Carolina Emergency Management Association conference in Litchfield to discuss disaster preparedness. Hurricane season is a little more than two months away.
Derrec Becker, public information coordinator for the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, says the event is designed to provide training sessions in emergency management and terrorism response to emergency officials and law enforcement. “It was two and half days of training to look at different aspects of emergency management, the types of disasters that this state faces -and we face quite a few,” Becker says.
Becker says that the budget has effected the Emergency Management Division very critically and that they usually have an annual conference known as the hurricane workshop. However, the state was not able to put it on for budget reasons. “So the SC Emergency Management Association stepped up and with their membership fees, their dues and their private contributions through sponsors, as well, they said this conference is so critical and so important -and that the training that is offered is so important that we wanted to be able to get together, and so, they foot the bill this time,” says Becker.
Becker says it is imperative to keep up with the latest tools and technologies in emergency management and homeland security. He says, “We want to be able to have this training, to bring in good speakers, to have sessions on hurricane preparedness, to be able to talk about social media, and communicating to the public in that direction. To look at intelligence sharing and homeland security-type incidents. Those were the things that were discussed in those days, and hopefully everybody came away, hopefully with a good impression.”
Ninety-six different agencies were represented at the conference, made up of local emergency responders, county emergency managers, state officials and even federal partners through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA).