Wednesday, April 01, 2020

History of Haskell County Emergency Management

Prior to the current Emergency management being established in Haskell County it first originated as the Civil Defense department.  This department was for the most part not an established position. Equipment, such as Geiger Counters, were just sent to the counties and placed in closet in case there was a war.  The following is a general timeline of who was the emergency mangers and what there responsibilities were.

1978 - Jim Phoenix was appointed chair of the Emergency Preparedness Commission.  He replaced Paul Blackmore, Sheriff of Haskell County.  Jim remained the chair until 11/29/1983, when he resigns.

2/06/1984 - Haskell County Sheriff,Carl Petty, is appointed chair of the Emergency Preparedness Commission.  It is not clear how long Carl maintained this position after the initial Emergency Plan was developed.

1988-1990 - Haskell County Sheriff, Jack Steckel, signed the Emergency Plan as both the sheriff and as the LEPC chairman, but it was never determined when he accepted the position.

6/25/1990 - Jim Axtell, manager of the Sublette Coop, was appointed chair of the Emergency Preparedness Commission and resigned on 2/25/1991 getting paid $55 a month for his duties.

9/1/1991 - Molly Morrison was hired as LEPC chairman.  He resigned on 4/30/1997 making $110 a month for his duties.

11/06/1995 - Kent Ochs was hired by the Commissioners as LEPC chairman.  Kent was a member of the Sublette Volunteer Fire Department.  His main responsibility was for severe weather.  Kent resigned on 7/31/2001 making approx. $6000 per year.

8/1/2001 - John Hall was hired as the LEPC Chairman. John also was a member of the Sublette Volunteer Fire Department.  Little did John know in just a little over a month his whole job would change with the terrorist attack on September 11th 2001. John was instrumental in the county looking for and apply for grant money for equipment. John retired on 8/31/2006

After the September 11th attack a lot of things would change for Emergency Management.  Emergency Management was moved to under the Department of Homeland Security.  In Kansas, Emergency Management answers to the Kansas Department of Emergency Management which is under the supervision of the Adjunct General of the Kansas National Guard.

10/1/2006 - Jerry Bailey, a retired English teacher, was hired as Emergency Management Coordinator.  Jerry was an hourly employee to write the County Emergency Plan.  On December 29th, 2006 a storm began that would leave our county without power.  As many as 10,000 power poles were disabled.  Natural gas froze off in Satanta, shutting down the generator at Satanta Hospital and Long Term Care Unit.  This was Haskell County's first dealing with FEMA.  Jerry retired from the position on 2/2007

Since this the county has realized the importance of having a full-time, salaried position.

2/2007 - Gwen Greeson Meairs was hired to a full-time Emergency Management position.  She made the LEPC more active again.  With input from the LEPC committee the County Disaster Plan was completed.  Gwen developed a training room/EOC in the basement of the courthouse, where today is still the location of the office.  Gwen retired on 12/31/2008

1/1/2008 - Debbie Brown was hired to replace Gwen.  Debbie has a back ground in nursing and EMS.  Debbie also serves as a paramedic and the EMS Director for the Haskell County Ambulance Service.  Debbie is also the one that has been assigned to work on the county GIS and 911 addressing system.  In April 2011, Debbie had to put her Emergency Management skills to the test with the wild fire that almost consume Satanta.  Debbie was responsible for coordinating the response of assisting agencies and assisting with shelters for residents of Satanta, the Satanta Hospital and Long Term Care Facility that were displaced due to the evacuation of town.  Debbie still maintains  the Emergency Management Coordinator position at this time.