HomeKlamath Falls newsKlamath County gears up for emergency preparedness overhaul in upcoming year

Klamath County gears up for emergency preparedness overhaul in upcoming year

Klamath County, Oregon – It’s important for communities to know how to respond and find local resources during tough times, like natural disasters or major incidents.

Ian Thigpen is Klamath County’s new disaster Manager. He is leading discussions to make the county’s disaster plans and community responses better.

Thigpen says that teaching people how to handle emergencies is the first step.

He makes it clear that their job is not to be the first ones to help, but to back up those who are and to get the whole community and government involved in conversations.

“Our role is not to be first responders,” he said. “Our role is to stand behind first responders and facilitate a whole community, whole of government conversation.”

Thigpen says that direct work isn’t what disaster management is all about. Instead, they work with the local government and people in the community who are already there to help during situations.

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His job is to lead these talks and help people in the community understand what to do in a disaster and work together well.

His main goals are to make sure that first responders have what they need and to get everyone in the community involved in planning for emergencies.

“We want to work together as a community to identify the problems the whole community is facing, and solve those problems outside of the yellow tape,” Thigpen said.

All groups and offices in the county are affected by this.

The commissioners told Thigpen that Klamath County’s emergency program was almost nonexistent when he started his job.

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The first thing he has to do is make sure that the program’s basic rules are followed.

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) requires that the Emergency Operations Plan be in line with those rules.

In order to follow NIMS, a fixed Local Emergency Management Committee needs to be set up.

Thigpen said that the LEMC will have a lot of different kinds of people on it, from government officials to locals and neighborhood groups.

Thigpen met with emergency officials from the Klamath Tribes and Kingsley Airfield not long ago.

Part of the policy also involves establishing a COAD — Community Organizations Active in Disaster.

The inaugural COAD meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. on January 15, 2024, at Klamath Community College. This meeting will also be a potluck and is open to all community members.

The first LEMC meeting is expected to take place a week after this event.

The proposed Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) was looked over by county officials at a recent work session. The commissioners said that the policy would likely be brought to the board for approval early next year, after some changes were made and more talks took place.

Thigpen is especially interested in making grant management better and fixing the fact that there aren’t any standards yet that meet the needs of the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

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He stressed how important it is to meet NIMS standards, which are the same as FEMA’s, in order to get government grant money.

Officials and workers in the county will have to go through certain training classes in order to be in compliance with NIMS. Thigpen, who knows how to teach most of these classes, will be in charge of the training.

He said that any department that gets government money has to go through this training unless their grant says they don’t have to.

These trainings will be free and open to anyone in the county who wants to attend, not just workers.

It looks like the training lessons will happen within the next few months.

Marcella Quintana

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