Published On: Wed, Mar 16th, 2011

Garvin making sure residents are safe

HARTINGTON —  Kevin Garvin likes to keep people safe – it’s his job.
Garvin uses his expertise and leadership in his job as the Cedar County Emergency Management Director to keeps his focus on preparedness, response and recovery.

During Severe Weather Awareness Week, which runs from March 14-18, Garvin will be coordinating activities with the National Weather Service to provide education on responding to severe storms that could hit the area.
Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service will send out mock severe weather messages to Sheriff’s offices across Nebraska.
At 10:10 a.m., a mock tornado warning will come in, said Garvin.
“At that time we will treat the tornado warning as if it were the real thing – it gives our staff a good opportunity to brush up on procedures before the real thing happens,” Garvin said.
The Cedar County Dispatch will then set off the tornado whistle in each town where that ability exists: Hartington, Randolph and Fordyce.
Pagers will alert Fire and Emergency Medical Service agencies just as they would as if it were a real situation.
“Each fire department where we can’t set their whistle off has been invited to do so, on their own at the time of the drill,” Garvin said.
The Cedar County Emergency Management, Hartington Police and Fire Departments also conduct drills at the schools and adult care facilities.
“The schools and adult care facilities are holding their drill and our emergency responders visit the facility to observe the drill,” Garvin said. “The purpose is that the emergency responders meet the people at the facilities and learn about their procedures so if the real thing happens we aren’t wasting time trying to figure those things out during an emergency. The responders take that information back to their agency and collaborate on how best to respond should an actual event  occur.”
The proper term is called “preplanning” Garvin said.
Another advantage of the drills at schools is having students take some of the knowledge about severe weather home and share it with their families.
Garvin has also set up a class to provide training for weather spotters that will be taught by meteorologists from the National Weather Service. The training will take place at the Hartington City Auditorium basement on the evening March 28.
Events during Severe Weather Awareness Week are just one aspect of the many duties throughout the year that keep Garvin busy as the Cedar County Emergency Management Director.
He started working in the Cedar County Sheriff’s Department in June 1995 as a dispatcher/jailer.
In 1997, he was asked to handle the responsibilities of the 911 coordinator and the communications coordinator.
Garvin was officially appointed as the Emergency Management Director in January 2001and during that same year he completed the  basic certification training for Emergency Manager.
Under the terms of a Federal program that Cedar County participates in, an Emergency Management Performance Grant pays for a portion of the cost for the program.
Garvin is in his third year as the chairperson for a 12-county regional emergency management planning, exercise and training group that has been formed.
Garvin also serves on the local Emergency Planning Commission, which maintains a current local Emergency Operations Plan, Hazard Mitigation Plan, Continuity of Government, Continuity of Operations and Debris Management Plan.
Part of his job duties require him to write applications and oversee any grants related to Emergency Managment.
Emergency Management is responsible for Emergency Management is responsible for keeping the county in compliance with State and Federal regulations and for advising and assisting elected officials during times of emergencies.
Garvin provides training opportunities for all fire, EMS and law enforcement agencies in the county.
“This includes major county wide disaster exercises. We have some form of an exercise each year,” Garvin said. “I am assisted by a county wide exercise design team.”
Emergency Management is responsible for planning and helping coordinate responses to large incidents.
Garvin identifies the risks, threats and hazards facing the county before a disaster strikes and figures out how to stop or minimize damage to property and loss of life.

In the event of a large emergency or disaster, Garvin would implement the four phases of Emergency Management: Response, Recovery, Mitigation and Planning/Preparedness.
Emergency Management is responsible for assisting with search and rescue operations, incidents with hazardous materials, large wildfires where aircraft must be utilized, evacuations, public information, public warning and other issues.
As the Emergency Manager, Garvin promotes severe weather safety procedures in the spring and winter.
Garvin keeps an eye on the weather and disseminates information regarding threatening weather to the appropriate responders and public works agencies. He is often the one who sends out the storm spotters.
Garvin also works with the Red Cross to open shelters during times when a number of people may be temporarily displaced.
As Communications Coordinator Garvin is responsible for the proper operation of all 911 and communication equipment utilized by the county’s 911 dispatch and county law enforcement.
He is responsible for training and continuing education for dispatchers and jailers and implementes new technologies and procedures. He also maintains the various radio transmitter sites utilized by the county.
Garvin provides communication training for the staff and emergency responders and keeps the county’s breath alcohol testing equipment working properly.
Garvin has kept his dispatcher and jailer certifications up-to-date and assists in that capacity when the need arises.
He is certified in Nebraska as a Firefighter I, EMT, Emergency Medical Basic Instructor, CPR/First Aid Instructor and holds certifications for NE Emergency Manager, Emergency Medical Dispatch and CLEIN (Combined Law Enforcement Information Network).
In April 2004, Garvin was named as the Outstanding New Emergency Manager and received an award as the Outstanding LEPC (Local Emergency Planning Commission) Member in 2010.
Garvin carries a pager and a cell phone at all times – dispatchers at the Cedar County Sheriff’s Dept have access to Garvin when ever the need arises.
“In the event I have to be unavailable Robert Hamilton and Roby Bowman serve as my back-up,” Garvin said.
Garvin is dedicated to his job of either avoiding risks – or dealing with them.