Take a seat at the table
by The Press and Standard | September 20, 2018 5:00 am
Last Updated: September 18, 2018 at 3:42 pm
A small army of local and state officials, representatives from businesses and volunteers make up the team called up when a natural or man-made disaster threatens Colleton County.
Colleton County Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief David Greene explains that those at work at the Emergency Operations Center, or who are out in the community handling the emergency, have been assigned to teams based on their emergency support function.
Emergency Support Function One is transportation. The Colleton County School District is the lead agency, joined by the Lowcountry Community Action Agency and Fire-Rescue. Green said the area’s public transportation agency, Palmetto Breeze, offered its assistance if buses were needed to move a large number of people.
Emergency Support Function Two is communications, managed by the sheriff’s office, which operates the county’s 911 emergency dispatch center located on the floor above the Emergency Management Division offices. They also work with the state’s radio system, Palmetto 800.
Emergency Support Function Three is public works: the South Carolina Department of Transportation, Colleton County Public Works Department and the municipal public works offices for Walterboro and Edisto Beach.
Emergency Support Function Four is fire service, involving Colleton County Fire-Rescue, Edisto Beach Fire Department and Walterboro Fire Department.
The three fire departments also team up to cover Emergency Support Function Nine, which is search and rescue, and Emergency Support Function Ten, which involves hazardous materials.
Emergency Support Function Five is planning, handled by the county’s Incident Management Team.
Emergency Support Function Six is mass care, handled by the Red Cross and the Colleton County Department of Social Services Office.
Emergency Support Function Seven is logistics, handled by the South Carolina Emergency Management Division regional manager assigned to the Colleton Emergency Management Division and a member of the county’s Incident Management Team.
Emergency Support Function Eight is medical, represented by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and Colleton Medical Center.
Emergency Support Function 11 is mass feeding. The Colleton County School District’s Food Service Director Ellen Fitch handles that function. She is rarely in the emergency operation center, as her duties require her to be elsewhere.
Emergency Support Function 12 is utilities: representatives of Palmetto Rural Telephone Cooperative, Coastal Electric Cooperative and South Carolina Electric and Gas. They are out coordinating their company’s efforts, but are in contact with the Emergency Management Center on a regular basis.
Emergency Support Function 13 is law enforcement, managed by the sheriff’s office, which has a representative at the Emergency Operations Center most of the time. Also working on the law enforcement function are the police departments of Edisto Beach and Walterboro.
Emergency Support Function 14 is damage assessment by the Colleton County Assessors Office.
Emergency Support Function 15 is public information. That function is managed by Fire-Rescue Chief Barry McRoy, working in coordination with Walterboro and Edisto Beach officials. “They get the information out when things change and they change a lot,” Greene said.
Emergency Support Function 16 is emergency traffic management headed by the South Carolina Highway Patrol. Patrol officials are in and out of the Emergency Operations Center often, providing real-time information on traffic issues.
Emergency Support Function 17 is animal services, headed by Colleton County Animal and Environmental Control Director Reggie McNeil. His role is to provide shelter for pets when the pet owners have to relocate to an emergency shelter.
Emergency Support Function 18 is donated goods and volunteer services. Colleton County Recreation Director Chris Myers is involved in the donated goods portion of the function, in case the county’s Recreation Center is needed to serve as a distribution point or staging area. The volunteer services are the responsibility of Emergency Management Division’s CERT team. The CERT volunteers staff the phone lines and work at the emergency shelter.
Emergency Support Function 19 is military support. The National Guard had two officers stationed at the EOC. If a military vehicle or equipment is needed, they can determine what type of vehicle or piece of equipment will suit the county’s needs and start the process of getting it deployed.
Emergency Support Function 24 is business and industry. Its purpose is to work with businesses and manufacturers in the county to assist them in making sure that the facility is secure.