Lewis County has officially brought Centralia, Vader, Toledo, Winlock and Pe Ell into the fold of its division of emergency management, which, as directed by state law, creates plans for regional emergencies.
The resolution “establishes a joint local emergency management organization” that fulfills RCW 38-52-070, which directs each local jurisdiction in the state “to establish a local organization or to be a member of a joint local organization for emergency management.”
“(The resolution) would be drawing everybody into the emergency management organization, so we’ll cover all the political subdivisions throughout the county,” Deputy Director Andy Caldwell told county commissioners.
The agreement comes with a $4 fee per person based on each city’s estimated population. Commissioners commended Caldwell for his successful outreach to the cities.
Expecting the cities to join the county’s organization, Caldwell requested an additional $100,000 for emergency management’s 2021 annual budget earlier this year, which was approved by commissioners. The funding was also expected to help the county get up to speed on state mandates, which Caldwell said couldn’t be met due to a lack of funding. Some of those requirements include exercises in which law, fire and medical first responders practice coordinating in the face of a disaster. Failing to conduct the exercises or meet other state mandates, Caldwell reported to commissioners, could leave the county open to liability.
Caldwell also noted that when smaller emergency departments band together, the region’s response to emergencies only gets stronger.