By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Plan preps city for emergencies
New plan outlines city responsibilities and priorities during disasters
city emergency plan pic
Pictured is flooding at Veterans Memorial Lake last spring. The Great Bend City Council Monday night approved a new Emergency Operations Plan to help the city better deal with disasters.

From the seasonal threat of tornadoes to active shooters to the current coronavirus scare, the time to be ready for an emergency is before it is upon you, Great Bend Fire Chief Luke McCormick said Monday night as he addressed the City Council. He spoke prior the council’s approval of the city’s newly minted Emergency Operations Plan which outlines disaster responses.

“This is Severe Weather Week,” he said of the annual state and national event marking the start of the spring storm season. “This is a good time to talk about this.”

As part of the certified public managers course last year, McCormick, Police Chief David Bailey and Human Resources Director Randy Keasling developed the new plan over the past year. The current plan dates back to 2006 and was more a list of job descriptions and didn’t provide much guidance.

“We started out trying to revise, it,” McCormick said. “But, we ended up scrapping it and starting from scratch.”

“The City Emergency Operations Plan answers two basic questions: Who is in charge and what do I do?” he said. The new one gives the mayor, City Council, administrator, and staff direction during the event of an emergency utilizing the Incident Command System.

“We wanted to create a plan that would stand the test of time,” he said. They looked at examples from Barton County and other communities, and sought guidance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other officials.

In general, the plan breaks down duties and responsibilities of the city and city personnel, establishes a chain of command and sets city priorities, McCormick said. It delves into such topics as establishing a command post operations, search and rescue, public information, family welfare, logistics and finances. 

It speaks to the coordination between fire, emergency management services, police, public works and administration. “We want to collaborate so that it gets resolved,” he said. 

The City Emergency Operations Plan is an “all-hazards plan,” the chief said. This includes response to floods, tornadoes, severe storms, drought, hazardous materials release, conflagrations, large scale public utility or communications failure, civil disorder, terrorist or enemy attack and similar threats.

Under the plan, the city is to work cooperatively with Barton County, state governments, and other outside organizations. Except in the most extreme circumstances, there is no authority to “take over” for the city government in a disaster. The city government must continue to govern and provide services to the city.

The plan does not provide for those countywide emergency response functions that are the responsibility of Barton County.

There will be training and table-top exercises to practice the plan and find out where it needs to be improved. It will also be reviewed annually.

However Councilman Brock McPherson balked, saying he hadn’t seen the old plan and wondered why the city needed a new one. He moved to table the matter, but that died for a lack of a second.

More plan details

In an emergency, city services include but are not limited to the Emergency Operations Center, mass care, public health, medical and ambulance services, coroner and public shelters. American Red Cross and similar work is best conducted at operations center, which is the city’s point of contact and coordination with the state and federal, and state and regional responders.

In these situations, the city administrator or representative will be in-charge of response center. The plan may be activated in full or in part as needed based on the situation.

The mayor will act as the city’s executive agent to declare a state of emergency, issue emergency orders to the public, establish curfews and represent the city to the state and federal governments.

The City of Great Bend plans to manage disasters without significant regional and State assistance. Once the totality of the incident dictates such, the city will mobilize an Emergency Operations Center and may request outside aid.

The city government is to operate with the following priorities:

1. Life safety,

2. Property protection,

3. Public welfare,

4. Continuity of city government and,

5. Restoration of city services.

The city will utilize a “National Incident Management System.” One person is to be in charge. 

Everyone is to work under a single incident action plan, and all workers are to report to a single supervisor. Supervisors should have no more than seven direct subordinates.

Tactical operations are to be organized and coordinated using four departments: Police, Fire, Public Works and Public Lands, and Administration.

The city is to work to restore City services and return the city to normalcy, the plan reads. In addition it “is to provide effective public information and assist citizens as appropriate to restore family unity, private property and normal commerce throughout the city.”

The city administrator or his/her representative is to operate from The City of Great Bend Emergency Operations Center during disaster emergencies.

The City of Great Bend Emergency Operations Center is in the Fire Department Station 1 located at 1205 Williams St., second floor. The back-up center is in the Great Bend Front Door located at 1615 10th St.

The enter is to be the communications center with surrounding counties and the State Government. All mutual aid is to be requested through and coordinated with The City of Great Bend Emergency Operations Center. 

The city is to operate a staging area for all incoming assistance and resources. The planned staging area is the Great Bend Expo Complex located at 455 W Barton County Road. An alternative location would be Barton County Community College, 245 NE 30 Road.

All public information is to be released through the Public Information Officer,

Great Bend City Council meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Great Bend City Council did Monday night:

• Approved the city’s newly developed Emergency Operations Plan.

As part of the certified public managers course, Fire Chief Luke McCormick, Police Chief David Bailey and Human Resources Director Randy Keasling developed the new plan. The current plan was based on who was filling an Incident Command Role. The new plan was developed to give the mayor, City Council, administrator, and staff direction during the event of an emergency utilizing the

Incident Command System, McCormick said.

•  Approved the city’s Hazard Mitigation Plan.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management began in 2012 to develop regional mitigation plans to provide sustainment of mitigation plans and save taxpayers’ money, said City Administrator Kendal Francis. The Kansas Homeland Security Region E Hazard Mitigation Plan was developed as a guide for Barton County jurisdictions and citizens to prepare for possible natural disaster events by taking actions to mitigate the effects of potential hazards.

Barton County has received final approval for the Kansas Homeland Security Region E Hazard Mitigation Plan from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said. As a participating entity in the plan, the city must  formally adopt the plan by ordinance. 

Adopting this plan will make us eligible to apply for mitigation grant funds, Francis said.

• Approved the training scholarship program for city personnel. 

Employees with fewer than five years of service who attend any educational training with a cost excess of $1,000 must sign the Scholarship Agreement, Human Resources Director Randy Keasling said. Employees with longevity (over five years of service) who attend any educational training with a cost excess of $8,000 must sign the scholarship Agreement. 

This has been an ongoing issue and the version approved Monday came after a council work session earlier this month. The idea is to prevent employees from having the city pay for training then, shortly afterwards, leave the city.

In exchange for receiving a scholarship for the cost of this training, the applicant shall agree to serve city as a full-time employee for 24 months following successful course completion. In the event the applicant resigns prior to the completion of the service period, he/she shall make restitution based on a pro-rating formula. 

• Held a 15-minute executive session for matters of attorney-client privilege. After the council reconvened in open session, no action was taken.

• Held a study session to address the Professional Engineering Consultants design agreement for the Sunflower Rod and Custom Association dragstrip.

• Approved closing Broadway from Kansas to Main from 4-8 p.m. April 9 for the Family Crisis Center’s annual Family Festival. 

• Approved a cereal malt beverage license for Bookies Bar & Grill which has had a change in management. Responsible parties are Joe Andrasek, Bryan Kramer and Stacy Dougherty.

• Approved township fire contracts. Each year, the contracts with the four townships (Liberty, Great Bend, South Bend, and Buffalo) that the city provides fire protection

to are renewed. 

The amounts vary from township to township. The rates this year are: Liberty, $17,969; Great Bend, $60,147; South Bend, $22,718; and Buffalo, $27,872.

• Heard a report from Kansas Wetlands Education Center Director Curtis Wolf on the facility’s 2019 activities and plans for this year.

• Heard a report from Jerry Renk, Crest Theater Board member, on the restoration project at the theater.

• Heard a report from City Administrator Kendal Francis. He focused on the 10th and Harrison intersection, and the issues turning into the McDonald’s Parking lot.

• Heard a report from Great Bend Economic Development Inc. Director Jessica Milsap.