Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What is a Declaration of Emergency?

This morning, the Board of County Commissioners held a public hearing to amend language within the county emergency management ordinance 2.48A.090 which relates to the possession of firearms in an emergency.   

We thought we would take this opportunity to talk about what an "emergency declaration" means here in Clark County and how it comes into effect.  It is a very rare action and one that may be often misunderstood.

On an everyday basis, Clark Regional Emergency Management staff are monitoring our community for a variety of threats and hazards.  Our Hazard Assessment here in the county identifies a number of scenarios for both natural and human-caused hazard situations.  Most commonly, we face severe storms that involve wind and rain and then, of course, also prepare for earthquakes and volcanoes as the more irregular, but possible events in our area.

And while natural disasters tend to cause much more damage, we also, following 9/11/2001 and in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, plan for the consequences of human-caused, yet damaging crime or terrorism.

When Clark County finds itself in an emergency situation, one of our first response agencies (police, fire, public health or public works), will often take the lead for an emergency situation.  The Clark Regional Emergency Operation Center (EOC) may be activated to provide support and coordination to the lead agencies involved.

And, depending on the size and scale of the event, incident and elected leaders are in constant evaluation of whether we have enough resources on-hand to ensure the protection of life and safety.

Unfortunately, our routine purchasing guidelines and our ordinances may inhibit rapid response to protecting life and property.  In recognition of this fact, mayors and governors may declare a "state of emergency" with specific provisions as may be found in Clark County Code 2.48A.090 (not including provision "i" which was eliminated today).

When CRESA or any Incident Commander makes a recommendation for an emergency declaration, review is done by our Countywide Policy Group which includes elected officials, first responder leadership and legal review.  The purpose, geographic boundaries and time limitations are reviewed carefully as their mere presence alone indicate that our area is in an unusual and life-threatening situation.

Emergencies and crisis alter the course of life for any jurisdiction and CRESA is committed to ensuring that our community be able to respond and recover so that you, our residents, can return to focusing on the special things that you all do to make this community great.  

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