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Preparedness depends on prior planning
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of articles on the development of an emergency plan for the county.)

Being prepared for a community emergency isn’t cheap, and it’s not the sort of thing that can be thrown together at the last minute, so in this time of tight, and tighter, government budgets, keeping up with emergency planning continues to be a challenge, according to information from Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller, who recently reported on the emergency planning accomplishments for 2010.
Miller explained that one way the planning is carried out locally is with funding from grant sources.
“Barton County applies every year to the Kansas Division of Emergency Management for Emergency Management Performance Grant funds. For fiscal year 2010, Barton County received $24,504 in EMPG funds.
“One of the requirements for EMPG funding is that a county must have an established local exercise program to test the capability of the jurisdiction to implement the county Emergency Operations Plan.
“Emergency operations plans, standard operating procedures and protocols all need to be evaluated after their development. The best way to do this is through an exercise program. In this manner, a local jurisdiction will be able to establish and maintain a comprehensive exercise program with policies and procedures that reflect the specific needs of each agency, community and county,” Miller reported.
The planning and practice have to be carried out in compliance with federal standards for the county to receive the grant funding, she added. 
“All EMPG-funded jurisdictions must plan and conduct exercises using the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program guidance. Counties must conduct two discussion-based or one operations-based exercise per year, submit an After-Action Report/Improvement Plan, and make sure that they are compliant with the National Incident Management System.”
That was conducted locally, involving many county and city agencies. “Barton County Emergency Management participated in several exercises. Scenarios included a hostage situation at a local hospital, tornado and flooding event, tornado touchdown in a neighboring county, and a hazardous material spill affecting a community,” Miller explained.