Emergency Management Division
Lieutenant Chip Wildy
Emergency Management Director
Welcome to the Marion County Emergency Management Division.
The Emergency Management Division is Marion County’s lead agency for coordination of emergency and disaster response activities. Emergency Management’s mission is to provide a comprehensive and aggressive emergency preparedness response, recovery and mitigation program in order to save lives, protect property and reduce the effects of disasters in Marion County.
The staff of Emergency Management is responsible for developing and coordinating programs that protect the public’s health and safety from large scale hazards, such as exposure to biological and chemical agents, explosive and incendiary devices and natural disasters.
Our daily responsibilities include:
- Monitoring severe weather and tropical weather conditions;
- Provide response to natural, manmade and technological events;
- Develop and coordinate programs that will protect the public’s health and safety from large scale natural and technological hazards;
- Maintain a registry of special needs residents;
- Provide assistance to other emergency management programs;
- Provide mutual aid assistance to other jurisdictions;
- Comply with federal and state emergency management regulations and standards;
- Review emergency plans for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, ambulatory centers and hospitals;
- Collection and distribution of emergency related information;
- Conduct emergency and disaster preparedness seminars and trainings;
- Participate in emergency drills and exercises;
- Develop and maintain the County’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan; serve as a liaison to the Florida Division of Emergency Management
Emergency Management Preparedness
Community talks, presentations, and events are a major part of our continuous efforts to prepare Marion County for any disaster. Education of the public is vital to a successful program. Tours of the Emergency Operations Center are not only popular but help educate our citizens to the importance of assuring that government continues to operate during any situation which threatens the county.
This year we brought back the practice activation in conjunction with the Florida Department of Emergency Management’s Statewide Hurricane Exercise. In April we started training all of our partners in the WEBEOC program, and then on May 20th we activated the EOC just as it would be during a real event. Over one hundred fifty of our representative partners respond and man their assigned desks. The four hour drill was a great success, and reinforced our confidence in our capabilities.
This past September in response to the church shooting in Charleston South Carolina, Emergency Management hosted a two day training seminar for our area churches. We had over one hundred twenty representatives from approximately sixty different churches in attendance. The classes were held in the EOC and at Meadowbrook Church.
Emergency Management has over twelve hundred special needs citizens enrolled in the registry. Annually we review emergency plans for and inspect over eighty health facilities in Marion County. We also host an annual training for the staff of living assisted facilities in which they earn professional credits towards their certifications.
Emergency Management Response
On April 20, 2015 an F-1 tornado touched down in Oak Run and Palm Cay, both retirement communities on State Road 200. Approximately 60 homes were damaged and three were destroyed. Emergency Management Staff deployed and set up a unified command with Marion County Fire Rescue, Marion County Sheriff’s Office Patrol, power representatives, and management representatives of both communities. Within three hours of the first report; all properties had been checked to assure that there were no trapped victims. Staff assured that all residents had shelter for the night and tarps were delivered and placed on roofs needing cover. There were no injuries and all the roads were cleared of major blockages. By morning prescribed follow-up procedures revealed that there were no uninsured properties, no major infrastructure damage and power had been restored to all homes capable of having power. The National Weather Service responded from Jacksonville to confirm that the two neighborhoods had in fact been struck by an F-1 tornado. The Marion County Property Appraisers Office sent several appraisers which submitted a total damage report of $908,916.00.
Emergency Management Recovery
A routine six month review of the area affected by the tornado highlighted Marion County’s capabilities to respond to their citizens in case of a major disaster. High praises for the Emergency Management and their partners were expressed by the residence of both communities. All but three homes have been repaired, and are again occupied. Two of the three are under construction. One home in Palm Cay has been demolished and the debris has been removed.
Emergency Management Mitigation
Marion County Emergency Management is a lead agency in administration of the county’s Local Mitigation Strategy. County Growth Management updated and submitted to the state the revised plan and will receive approval in early 2016. Once we receive state approval, Emergency Management will facilitate adoption of the plan by the County Commission, all five municipalities and the Marion County School Board.