Ocean City First In State To Complete Emergency Plan

OCEAN CITY – Ocean City received recognition at Tuesday’s work session for being the first jurisdiction in Maryland to have a workable Continuity Of Operations Plan (COOP).

The Maryland COOP is a program that aims to prepare and plan for potential emergencies so government and business can continue to function efficiently.

Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald, along with Ocean City’s Grant Administrator Wayne Pryor, Emergency Management Planner Richard “Buzzy” Bayles, intern Lisa Connor and representatives from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, came before the Mayor and Council Tuesday to explain the COOP Program, which began when the state was awarded a $1.4 million training grant from the Department of Homeland Security. The training grant aimed to train local and state governments how to build an effective COOP program.

The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) became the coordinator of the program, assisting state and local agencies, as well as Ocean City, in creating COOP programs.

According to Theobald, “the COOP Plan for the Town of Ocean City presents a management framework to establish operational procedures necessary to assure the capability to conduct and sustain essential agency functions across a wide range of potential emergency situations.”

The plan will provide for attaining operational capability within 12 hours and intends to sustain essential operations for a period of at least 14 days in the event of a localized or statewide incident or catastrophic event. To ensure operational capability during that time, Departmental COOP Teams will be activated in the event of emergency situations, with each team responsible for following established procedures.

Ocean City undertook the extensive planning process earlier this spring in hopes of having a completed COOP plan before the hurricane season. After working diligently to complete the program, Ocean City became the first jurisdiction in Maryland to have a completed COOP program. The program was completed in record time – just four months when it’s estimated to take one year.

The COOP program plans for all natural or man made events that could threaten the critical functions of government and business here in Ocean City. The COOP program aims to ensure that those critical functions continue to operate during and after emergencies.

The town’s emergency management director is responsible for the development and maintenance of viable COOP Plans and will do so through training and informing all personnel, as well as conducting necessary drills and exercises that will help prepare the town for catastrophic events.

After catastrophic events such as Hurricane Katrina and 9-11, governments across the nation, as well as in Ocean City, began to recognize the need to not only plan for emergencies, but also have a plan for how government and business will operate during emergencies.

“Today we are much better off for something to take place,” Theobald told the Mayor and Council Tuesday. “Ocean City is proud to be the first recognized jurisdiction in the State.  We are dedicated to continually improve our ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from such events that may impact our community.”

Mayor Rick Meehan agreed that it was a step in the right direction for the town.

“I think it is a good accomplishment, it shows our dedication to the city and to making it a safe place to live,” he said.

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