Emergency Management Discussed

Nacogdoches County Judge Joe English knows the Columbia Center is a valuable resource in his own hometown. Now he wants neighboring counties to utilize its services. English told a group from San Augustine and Shelby counties,  " The Columbia Center is a vital tool for nacogdoches county and it's also available for the other counties and if you're not taking advantage of it, you should be. "

The center is focused on putting everyone on the same page when it comes to emergency preparedness. Dr Darrel McDonald told the group it's done through,  " Parallel high quality training across our whole partnership. " Training is the key. The Columbia Center offers free instruction on GPS use and mapping to government entities.

All the emergency methods can be utilized in the field thanks to a mobile emergency command center. Homeland security funds purchased the trailer. It's intended to be shared by all three counties. Nacogdoches emergency coordinator, Tommy Wheeler pointed out the sophistication of the communication network.   He said,    " Basically you can take a hand held walkie talkie and go through this gateway device and talk to the FBI."

Yet funding to expand emergency services remains a challenge. State Representative Wayne Christian explained,  " The governor's office is in management control over that, so the legislature pretty well stamps it and ask the governor, but the governor's office has direct homeland security control. "

The goal is to utilize what is already in place. The region can start by improving the utilization of a command center and tapping into valuable instructional resources.