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If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!

By Valarie Waddle

Whether you’ve been deemed “essential” or “non-essential”, chances are the uncertainty of the current situation has caused a mild (or not so mild) panic. For a number of reasons, planning for the worst has come to the forefront of our minds. Though we all are still hoping for the best. What happens, though, when you do not know how to plan for the worst?

If you answered “Buy all the toilet paper”, this article may not be for you. Lucky for us, our community has an invaluable resource for all first responders, medical personnel, and even our beloved oilfield community to coordinate and plan for “declared emergency” situations.

The Eddy County Office of Emergency Management (ECOEM) serves as the hub for all emergency services in the county through partnerships with local law enforcement, area hospitals, and local fire departments across Carlsbad, Artesia, Loving, and Hope. This behind the scenes agency plays an essential role in preparing first responders for emergency situations in a variety of environments, including worksites in remote locations. Working with county and volunteer agencies, the ECOEM facilitates meetings between emergency first responders and agencies working in remote locations to plan and prepare for potential emergency situations.

This includes familiarizing emergency personnel with facilities and identifying appropriate points of contact. The ECOEM also helps to develop and coordinate trainings for a variety of potential emergency situations. This may include helping facility managers prepare for emergency calls through dispatch simulations with relevant emergency dispatch personnel. Additionally, the ECOEM assists in locating and coordinating resources for emergency situations that require extended stays. ECOEM coordinates the setup of the mobile command post, food, tents, anything that is out of the ordinary for regular duty. 

“Every day is different,” states County Emergency Manager Jennifer Armendariz. “Especially now with the COVID-19 situation.” 

Currently, Armendariz begins each day meeting with the Department of Homeland Security to discuss developments in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

“Despite the efforts to effectively plan, nothing could have prepared any of us for the current situation. With policies developing minute to minute, effective planning has become more crucial than ever before.”

One matter that Armendariz is currently addressing, is the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Because of the global demand for PPE, county emergency managers across the state are coordinating orders from their respective counties to provide PPE to first responders, medical personnel, and facilities with high-risk clientele such as assisted living facilities, dialysis clinics, and other medical facilities. 

Daily meetings with a county workgroup designated to addressing COVID-10 concerns provide Armendariz with insight into what resources are available, what is needed, and the current status of active cases in our county. As a liaison between state, local, and federal agencies, Armendariz has helped to coordinate other resources for our county as well. Most recently, both Eddy County hospitals received additional COVID-19 testing equipment. 

When there isn’t a global pandemic, Armendariz is able to focus her efforts on locating and acquiring resources for Eddy County’s emergency personnel. As well as coordinating and facilitating various tabletop and full scale trainings. She actively pursues grants for emergency needs and reviews agency eligibility for available funding. Additionally, Armendariz assists in the maintenance of such resources through grant reporting and other conditions of compliance. 

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