Emergency resource coordinator headquartered in Logan County
January 26, 2013 By Marla Blair, Once upon a time, when disasters hit and resources were miles away, incident commanders would spend valuable time calling other locations within the state to find equipment and resources. In 2011 the process became faster and more efficient when a single location was established as the statewide emergency management resource center.
The center, called EM-Com (think emergency management-communications), was established in Logan County. After it was formed and its purpose had been tested, a local veteran of emergency response was chosen to run the operation. Robert “Bucky” Washam, retired Lincoln firefighter, is the EM-Com Supervisor for the statewide emergency resource system.
Creating the position was inevitable, once the resource center was officially recognized and became the “go to” place for response teams from across the state to request assistance. But during the program’s initial stages activity was overseen by another man who also had experience as a first responder.
When the fledgling EM-Com resource center was born, Mark Mann, Logan County 911 dispatch coordinator, watched it grow from talk around the table to a full-blown program with blessings from across the state. Mann was a Lincoln city police officer for 27 years and assumed the helm in the dispatch center after his retirement from the department. His input and oversight breathed life into the EM-Com concept, but his dispatch team was his main focus.
The creation of an EM-Com supervisor’s position was inevitable. And it would be second nature for an individual with emergency response experience to see the benefits and understand the dynamics of an emergency resource clearinghouse. Washam was already connected to that world. He worked for the Lincoln Fire Department for 30 years and 8 months, retiring on December 31, 2005.
After that time, Washam volunteered with the Logan County Emergency Management Agency. Until, on July 1, 2012, he assumed the duties of EM-Com Supervisor. So, what is that job description?
“I deploy and track state resources,” Bucky Washam explained. “I am a Logan County employee with statewide jurisdiction.
“Primarily, it involves taking care of 72 generators and the EMAT (Emergency Management Assistance Team),” Washam continued. “There are 12 host jurisdictions located around the state that maintain generators. We’re getting ready to add six new agencies to the system. The locations are chosen for their willingness and ability to house a number of generators, and for the location’s placement throughout the state.”
When Washam says he tracks state resources, that includes personnel and equipment that is in the system. He maintains an “inventory” of resources necessary to respond to natural and man-made disasters and other emergency situations. The process works like this:
A county emergency management director calls the center to make an official request for resources and generators. Washam returns the call to verify the request. He then coordinates deployment of requested resources to the site.
“We have exhibits for training and will participate at conferences,” Washam stated. “Information and some resources will be on display throughout the year for training purposes. We can also use some of the generators for back-up systems at large events, like the Balloon Fest.
“There are 102 counties in Illinois,” Bucky Washam said, “and that allows for a lot of exhibits, emergencies, disasters and back-up opportunities at events. We can also take the equipment out of state to assist in emergencies and disasters. This is a much-used and needed system and it gets busy.”