MANATEE COUNTY, FL (May 19, 2014) – After more than a year’s worth of work, Manatee County Government has become the fifth Florida government to earn accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program, the country’s only accreditation process for emergency management programs.
On May 14, the Emergency Management Accreditation Board unanimously voted to confirm Manatee County as an accredited jurisdiction. EMAP uses the accreditation to prove the capabilities of a community’s disaster preparedness and response system. To achieve accreditation, emergency management programs document compliance with a set of industry recognized standards called the Emergency Management Standard. EMAP-trained assessors then review a community’s efforts to determine accreditation.
The achievement, announced last week, marks the culmination of more than a year’s worth of effort by Emergency Management Chief Don Hermey and dozens of local agencies that contributed to the effort. Every Manatee County municipality, each of its special districts, not-for-profit agencies and private businesses all contributed to the EMAP accreditation.
“It’s a testament to the entire community from first responders all the way to county departments, non-profits, volunteer groups and other jurisdictions that participate,” Hermey said. “It was a major undertaking and it shows a true commitment to emergency preparedness within the community.”
Hermey said EMAP certification is not only about creating emergency preparedness plans, but ensuring a community understands how to implement them when needed.
“It’s beyond the plans. It’s really all about the partnerships,” Hermey said. “Are your partners really at the table. Are they really committed to working in the process with you? Is it one homogeneous group? In Manatee’s case, the answer is a resounding, ‘Yes.’”
Other Florida communities that are EMAP-accredited include Miami-Dade County, Jacksonville/Duval County, Orange County and Volusia County. The state of Florida is also EMAP accredited.
In a time where the country’s emergency management is strengthening in professional preparedness from the local level to a national scale, accreditation represents a significant achievement according to EMAP.
Public Safety Director Ron Koper said he’s extremely proud of the Emergency Management Division and Manatee’s many community partners who helped achieve accreditation. He also commended Manatee County Commissioners and County Administrator Ed Hunzeker for making emergency preparedness a priority of the local government.
“Chief Don Hermey and his work tirelessly throughout the year to maintain an exceptional level of disaster readiness regardless of the hazard,” Koper said. “They collaborate regularly with various stakeholders in our county, region, and state to ensure the best opportunities for planning, training, response, and recovery all of which are critical to our community’s resilience. News of this accreditation could not be timelier as we prepare our community for the upcoming hurricane season which begins June 1.”
Joining Manatee County in achieving accreditation this year are Volusia County,
Fla., Chester County, Penn. and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lakes and Rivers Pittsburgh District. The state of Ohio achieved reaccreditation.
“These programs have demonstrated leadership, vision and commitment to their communities and to the profession of emergency management by achieving a professional third party review and recognition of meeting objectives standards of excellence,” said Barb Graff, Director of Seattle Office of Emergency Management and Chair of the EMAP Commission.
EMAP recognizes the ability of emergency management programs to bring together personnel, resources and communications from a variety of agencies and organizations in preparation for and in response to an emergency.
The Emergency Management Standard is flexible in design so that programs of differing sizes, populations, risks and resources can use it as a blueprint for improvement and can attain compliance with the standard. The EMAP process evaluates emergency management programs on compliance with requirements in sixteen areas, including: planning; resource management; training; exercises, evaluations, and corrective actions; and communications and warning. This forms the foundation of the nation’s emergency preparedness system.
For more information on Manatee County Government, visit online at www.mymanatee.org or call (941) 748-4501. You can also follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/manatee.county.fl and on Twitter, @ManateeGov.