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Prepared for disaster

Jorgensen makes sure responders are ready

September 16, 2012
By PETER KASPARI, , Messenger News

When disasters strike Webster County, emergency responders need to have a plan in place for how the situation is handled.

Without their plans, rescuers might be confused and not know what everybody's job is.

In Webster County, it's Emergency Management Coordinator Tony Jorgensen's job to make sure everybody is prepared.

A retired Fort Dodge firefighter, Jorgensen has served as emergency management coordinator since October 2000.

"A big part of my job is logistics," he said. "I have to know where to find our resources and make sure that they're available to our emergency responders."

Jorgensen said the emergency responders include local police and fire departments, hospitals, schools and volunteers.

"I help to train the first responders by offering classes to them and I'm responsible for evaluating them on what they've learned," he said.

He said he plans exercises throughout the year that offer different situations for the rescuers and how they respond to emergencies.

"It's all very continuous," he said. "There's continuing education for myself and for the community and first responders."

He also helps out local agencies by being a grant-writer to get money to help support them.

Jorgensen also heads the Webster County Interagency Disaster Planning Committee, which is made up of emergency responders from various agencies in the county. He said this committee allows first responders to not only get to know each other, but also to determine who will be responsible for various tasks during an emergency.

"A disaster is a bad time to make decisions as to who is doing what," he said. "By meeting every month, all the agencies can understand each other and increase our efforts when disaster hits."

Jorgensen said this includes entities such as nursing homes and hospitals.

"We're very fortunate to have all kinds of dedicated people," he said. "And it's not just the agencies. I also have dedicated volunteers who help out."

In fact, Jorgensen said working with those volunteers and agencies is what he enjoys the most about his job.

"I enjoy the opportunity to be able to work with skilled and dedicated agencies and volunteers," he said. "It feels really good to see so many people believe in the community during bad times."



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