Eleven New York Emergency Management Organizations Have Achieved Accreditation in First of its Kind State-Level Program
Washington County's Accreditation Announced as National Preparedness Month Begins
With the start of National Preparedness Month kicking off, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Washington County Department of Public Safety has achieved accreditation through New York's Local Emergency Management Accreditation Program. First proposed in the Governor's 2017 State of the State, the accreditation program is the first of its kind at the state-level for local emergency management agencies in the nation. Washington County is the 11th emergency management organization to achieve accreditation, and joins Albany, Broome, Erie, Livingston, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Saratoga and Wayne counties, as well as New York City.
"The safety of New Yorkers is our number one priority, and this first-in-the-nation program helps ensure local emergency management offices can efficiently respond to disasters while protecting the public," Governor Cuomo said. "By putting procedures in place to respond to unpredictable emergency situations, from extreme weather events to pandemics, we are creating a stronger, safer and more secure New York."
The program, developed in partnership with the New York State Emergency Management Association, is designed to highlight and promote proactive local emergency management agencies in New York State. To become accredited, a locality must meet a series of standards and best practices which promote a coordinated and integrated approach to emergency management. The localities must engage "Whole Community" stakeholders, including government and private partners, and consider the needs of those who may require specific attention during an emergency or disaster, like the homeless, elderly, or disabled. The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services administers the program on behalf of the Local Emergency Management Accreditation Council, which serves as the governing body for the program. Accreditation is valid for five years, with an opportunity to obtain reaccreditation after the five-year period.
Patrick A. Murphy, Commissioner of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, said, "Whenever disasters or emergencies strike, local emergency management teams serve as the first line of defense for their communities, and it's critical that they are well-prepared to address any risks their jurisdiction may face. The Local Emergency Management Accreditation Program has been key in ensuring counties are as prepared as possible for any and all hazards, and I applaud the Washington County Department of Public Safety on their hard work to attain this achievement."
The Washington County Department of Public Safety encompasses the Emergency Management Office, which provides emergency and hazard mitigation planning and incident management assistance to all towns, villages and school districts within the county and all public safety agencies with jurisdiction in Washington County. The Communications Center or Public Safety Answering Point is the department's largest operation and is staffed for 24/7. The Communications Center is the sole primary 911 operator serving Washington County and is the primary dispatch center for all public safety agencies within the county consisting of 36 fire departments, eight EMS agencies, five village police agencies, county sheriff, and various other county agencies.
The center also supports three fire departments in Bennington County, Vermont, and six fire departments and two EMS agencies in Rutland County, Vermont. The Washington County Department of Public Safety also manages the county's Hazardous Materials Team and provides day to day administrative support to the offices of the Fire Coordinator and EMS Coordinator.
New York State Emergency Management Association President and Cattaraugus County Emergency Management Director Chris Baker, said, "NYSEMA is committed to the further development of local emergency management capabilities across the state and incredibly proud of the Local Emergency Management Accreditation Program and the growing number of counties achieving accreditation."
Washington County Board of Supervisors Chairman Samuel J. Hall said, "We are blessed to have a dedicated team in our Public Safety department, we are proud of the continued excellent work they do for all those in our county, our towns, villages and our first responder agencies. Being only the eleventh agency to achieve the Emergency Management Accreditation in the state, our residents can rest assured that our Public Safety department is "top notch" and is always there whenever they need them."
Washington County Department of Public Safety Director Glen Gosnell said, "We appreciate the opportunity to work through the accreditation program with emergency management leaders from the Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services and our New York State Emergency Management Association partners. I'm proud of our public safety team members who work diligently day in and day out for the many who count on us. We're honored to bring this achievement back to Washington County, our partner agencies and all of our communities who work alongside and rely on our emergency management office and public safety team."
Local emergency management offices interested in obtaining this accreditation need to compile and/or develop the policies, plans, and documents necessary to meet accreditation standards. Any required documentation will be shared or uploaded to the NY Responds web portal so materials can be reviewed in advance of the on-site review. The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and New York State Emergency Management Association will provide technical assistance during the preparation phase and once all of the requested materials have been obtained, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services will select a team of at least two experienced assessors to conduct the review.
The review will include the further examination of any necessary plans and documentation, and interviews with the Emergency Manager, staff, and others, if necessary. It will be incumbent on the emergency management office to demonstrate, document, and articulate how they meet each of the standards and associated criteria. Local emergency management offices wishing to receive certification should complete the application form and submit it to the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services at [email protected].
Additional information about the New York State Local Emergency Management Accreditation Program - including program guidance, eligibility, and standards - can be found here.
Launched in 2004, National Preparedness Month is recognized by FEMA each September as a way of promoting both family and community disaster planning now, as well as throughout the year. The 2020 theme is: "Disasters Don't Wait. Make Your Plan Today." For more information, please visit https://www.ready.gov/september.
About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services provides leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other man-made and natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies. For more information, visit the DHSES Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSES on Twitter, or Instagram, or visit dhses.ny.gov.