Ice storm generates need for emergency communication plan

Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 12:36 PM.

CRESTVIEW — The recent ice storm illustrated the need for an emergency situation communications protocol, city leaders said.

Leaders praised continuous news feeds and traffic updates from media including the News Bulletin's Twitter and Facebook sites and Crestview radio station WAAZ/WJSB, but said during the storm, that was the only way they were kept abreast of developments.

"I was getting ice storm information from Facebook and news reports, but wasn't hearing from other officials," City Council President Robyn Helt said.

"We're all grateful for the news reporting," Helt said, but in some storm situations, there is the possibility that reporters "can't always get information."

Though Public Works Director Wayne Steele emailed city leaders several situation reports during Jan. 26, Fire Chief Joe Traylor said rapidly evolving events that kept his firefighters busy precluded the opportunity to issue updates to city leaders.

"It's important we have a plan in place so people can focus on their jobs but have a person who can brief the council," Helt said. "I learned about what was happening the way others did: through the news."

Helt encouraged department heads to produce a protocol that could be initiated in emergency situations to keep city leaders informed of developments.

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