About the Division
Welcome to Washington County! Washington County spans 467 square miles and is located in the Cumberland Valley with a population of approximately 145,384. Washington County borders two counties in Maryland – Allegany and Frederick counties, two counties in Pennsylvania – Franklin and Fulton counties, one county in Virginia – Loudoun county, and three counties in West Virginia – Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties. In addition, our county has over 100 miles of shoreline along the Potomac River. As Director of Emergency Services, I would like to introduce you to the Division of Emergency Services (DES) and current projects under way that will allow us to meet our future challenges.
First, drastic changes within the County are occurring within our Emergency Communications Center (ECC). From 1975 to present, our county’s Emergency Communications and Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) has been operating from our current facility receiving 9-1-1 requests for services and dispatching the County’s fire and EMS resources. Law enforcement requests for services were transferred to one of three agencies – Hagerstown City Police Department, Maryland State Police, and Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
In 2002, Washington County began the process of creating specifications and designing a new communications system that would meet the vast challenges faced by our county. The planned system would also allow for interoperability across the surrounding regions and various states. In addition to addressing interoperability locally and regionally, the Division has been actively involved in a project that will bring interoperability across western Maryland known as Washington Alleghany Garrett Interoperability Network (WAGIN).
During the years spent developing the system, discussions also began regarding the consolidation of various PSAPs to include all of the professional personnel and services being provided by each agency. As of July 2009, our DES took on totally new responsibilities as a consolidated 9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center. All emergency response requests for services will be facilitated from a single center. Additionally, current plans are that as of January 10, 2010, our emergency communications personnel and law enforcement personnel will begin functioning on the county’s new Motorola 450MHz Digital Trunked Radio System. Fire and Emergency Medical Services responders, in addition to other allied agencies, will begin functioning on the new communications system once the apparatus radios and in-station alerting systems are installed.
The Division also provides support and resources to our County’s emergency responders through the Department of Special Operations and our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Coordinator. Our EMS Coordinator is responsible for quality assurance/improvement within our EMS. She also assures our compliancy with local, state and federal requirements specific to emergency medical response. As the Division prepares for future growth and enhanced delivery of services, Washington County recently placed into service an advanced life support unit for the western portion of Washington County to supplement the current services being provided by the volunteer corporations within Washington County.
The Department of Emergency Management also contributes to the support and resources provided to the responders and citizens. Beyond maintaining our current Emergency Operations Plan and other documents required by the agency, we continue to build out our Emergency Support Functions and work collaboratively with the many departments/agencies within the county and state. The Department’s work through the Local Emergency Planning Committee, Citizen Corp and CERT continues to maintain and enhance our citizens’ level of awareness, preparation and response. Within the next few months, our Washington County Virtual Emergency Response System (WCVERS) will be fully functional to provide incident support to all of Washington County’s emergency response partners. Also working with our Department of Emergency Communications (DEC), we will be able to provide our citizens with an emergency notification and response system.
Other initiatives include enhancing our capabilities in mass casualty response and working collaboratively with our local receiving hospitals specific to med surge capacity. Our Special Operations Department is responsible for several of our emergency support functions and provides personnel and equipment for our hazardous materials response, technical rescues and “working fire response” profiles. The Department’s responses are managed through a group of dedicated volunteers that support special operations responses along with some of whom also support their volunteer department where they reside. DES currently employs ten part-time personnel within the department for staffing enhancements.
Again, Welcome to Washington County!
Kevin L. Lewis, Director
9/9/11 10:39 AM