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DEM's role within Whatcom County

The Division of Emergency Management (D.E.M.) is responsible for developing and maintaining a community infrastructure for emergency/disaster mitigation, planning, response, and recovery.

We do this through public education, training of the response community, developing plans, and building teams of responders. The D.E.M. works with emergency responders, volunteers, and others to maintain a constant state of readiness.

The Division of Emergency Management is the designated "Community Coordinator" for the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and works with local business and industry to ensure compliance with the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

The Division maintains a chemical inventory database and does planning for identified Extremely Hazardous Substances hazard zones. The D.E.M. fulfills the County's responsibilities under EPCRA and RCW 38.52. The D.E.M. staff maintains and operates the Whatcom County Emergency Operations Center.

Functions of the Division of Emergency Management

Hazard Identification and Vulnerability Analysis
        A Hazard Identification and Vulnerability Analysis (HIVA) is a prelude to any emergency management planning effort. It involves a number of methods of identifying the risks that face a community and the potential impact of those risks. New:
Natural Hazards HIVA Report
pdf document

Disaster Planning
        A core product of the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) is the development and maintenance of emergency response plans.  The central plan is the Whatcom County Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) that details the crisis responsibilities of each community agency and organization.  The CEMP incorporates the format and function of the internationally recognized Incident Command System.  The CEMP is required by state law and is written to ensure a coordinated emergency response between all of the participants of the Interlocal Agreement for Emergency Management Services.  Those participants include: Whatcom County, the Port of Bellingham and the cities of Bellingham, Blaine, Everson, Ferndale, Lynden, Nooksack and Sumas.

Municipal plans are formatted and closely coordinated with the CEMP.  The CEMP is written to provide consistency with the state and federal Emergency Response Plans.

The Whatcom County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) has written and maintains a Hazardous Material Response Plan, which is an annex to the CEMP.  The Hazardous Materials Response Plan is required under both federal and state law and establishes the specific roles and responsibilities that are needed for a well-coordinated response for the unique risks associated with hazardous materials.

In close coordination with our Canadian neighbors, the DEM has also developed a Cross-Border Hazardous Materials Plan for Whatcom County and Lower Mainland British Columbia.  The DEM was a full participant in the development and implementation of the CANUS West Plan, which is a trans-boundary plan for response to Oil and Hazardous Material Spills along the inland border between British Columbia, Canada and the United States.

Other specific plans developed and or used by the DEM include, but are not limited to:

  • The Mount Baker/Glacier Peak Coordination Plan
  • RACES Communications Plan
  • Fire Mobilization Plan
  • Northwest Area Contingency Plan

The DEM works closely with local businesses, industry, schools and organizations to assist in their individual disaster planning efforts.  Many of these plans are on file at the DEM.

With the exception of unique vulnerability assessments, terrorist related plans and materials that would have a substantial likelihood of posing a threat to public safety if disclosed, the plans on file at the DEM are available for public inspection

Responder Training
        D.E.M. acts as a clearing house for a variety of responder training opportunities. We also provide training whenever it is needed due to a change in plans, procedures, personnel or equipment. Training information is also available directly from:

Washington State Emergency Management Division, Training Section:
http://emd.wa.gov/

Online Training:

Fema Independent Study Courses

Exercises
        The Division of Emergency Management conducts a variety of disaster and emergency response exercises ranging from notification drills to full scale multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency exercises. These exercises may be designed to train or familiarize responders, assess plans or test specific functions. Exercises are a key element in building response teams and developing coordinated disaster/emergency plans.

Disaster/Emergency Response
        D.E.M. maintains a constant state of readiness to respond to events which may exceed the capability of any single or multiple jurisdictions. In most instances, the Division of Emergency Management serves as a single coordination and resource agency for large emergencies or disasters. This service may require activation of the Emergency Operations Center, on-scene response to serve in the incident command post, or an office response.

Disaster/Emergency Recovery
        Recovery efforts may involve coordinating or initiating a damage assessment; development of appropriate recovery efforts; promulgation of needed emergency proclamations; initiating requests for State and/or Federal assistance or coordination of appropriate assistance.

Public Education
        Public education is provided on various risks in Whatcom County and preparedness for those risks. D.E.M. also maintains a large stock of literature on many types of hazards, which is available to the public.

Emergency Operations Center (E.O.C.) Maintenance and Operations.
        The Division of Emergency Management is responsible for maintaining the E.O.C. in a constant state of readiness. During a disaster the E.O.C. becomes the hub of information gathering and dissemination, strategic decision making, resource allocation, and incident coordination.

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