County Dedicates Grant Funds To New Incident Team

SNOW HILL – County leaders agreed this week to support efforts to form a statewide incident management team.

The Worcester County Commissioners voted on Tuesday to use a portion of the county’s Homeland Security Grant Program funds to support the state’s efforts to form a Maryland Incident Management Team (IMT). The team would be made up of staff members from various jurisdictions who could help other counties during disasters — events like the flooding that occurred in Ellicott City.

“To date, Maryland has had to pull IMT resources from Pennsylvania or Virginia to assist with Maryland disaster situations,” Director of Emergency Services wrote in a report to the commissioners. “This is simply an attempt to have in-state resources from western Maryland that could help on the Eastern Shore or vice versa.”

According to Webster, the state has been working for the past year to form an IMT. The team, he explained, would be available to help incident commanders in the field during an emergency. Teams could be deployed in the event of any local jurisdiction’s disaster, and would not require a federal or state emergency declaration.

At this point in the process, Webster said the Maryland Emergency Management Agency was seeking funding support from Maryland’s counties. The agency wants jurisdictions to support the program with a portion — Webster said likely $5,000 or $5,500 — of the Homeland Security Grant Program funding the county receives.

“Financial support is only the first part of this process,” Webster said. “MEMA is also looking for local jurisdictions to help build the IMT. There are a number of things that people who are involved in the incident management team will have to go through as far as training goes.”

Commissioner Chip Bertino asked which county staff members would be included on the team. Webster explained that hadn’t been decided yet but that it wouldn’t be just emergency management officials. He said the IMT could also include public works or finance employees, as a variety of skills are needed during a disaster.

James Hamilton, assistant director of emergency services, agreed.

“It is definitely a multi-discipline type exercise,” he said, adding that many IMT members would be fire and law enforcement officials but that not all of them would be. “It is our understanding of this program it could be based on what the county chooses to participate.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.