Stay safe, stay connected and be prepared

By Peter Rogers | May 11, 2020

This month, the Maine Emergency Management Agency would have hosted its 12th Annual Maine Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference, but like many large gatherings, the conference was canceled due to the pandemic. The conference theme was going to be, “When disaster strikes, we are all connected.” When we came up with that theme, the world was a much different place. Although a lot has changed since those original plans were made, that theme resonates even more than ever. Staying connected has been very important during the COVID-19 pandemic and we are all finding new ways and new technologies so that we can stay connected even though we are apart.

In January of this year, MEMA began meeting with the CDC to plan for the potential arrival of COVID-19 in Maine. This is the preparedness phase of emergency management. Sometimes preparedness means taking steps that we don’t ultimately use. We knew this could be the case, but it’s our job to prepare for the worst-case scenario. This time, it turns out, we did need those preparedness steps and Maine was in a much better place going into this pandemic because of it. We have been successful in flattening the curve.

Before the pandemic, MEMA was also making plans to participate in two major exercises: the National Level Exercise, a series of exercises designed to better prepare the nation for its greatest threats, and the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant Exercise, a series of exercises simulating a nuclear power plant incident, in which participating states are graded by FEMA. Both exercises were canceled due to the pandemic, but the planning process also helped us prepare for the pandemic.

Our conference sessions would have included Adapting Public Health Response; Disaster Donations; Volunteers in Emergencies; Incident Action Planning and more. Instead we received real life training and that is the most valuable training of all. My team has stepped up like never before and I couldn’t be prouder.

In the end, we are all connected and we have all played a role in this pandemic. We can talk about the weather. We can talk about the Red Sox. (Well, not so much lately!) Now we can definitely all talk about the pandemic, and when we do we can talk about our successes and what we can do to prepare ourselves even more for anything like it in the future.

We will be back next year for the Annual Maine Partners in Preparedness Conference. We will have a lot to talk about. Until then, please stay healthy, stay safe, stay connected and be prepared.

Peter Rogers, Director

Maine Emergency Management Agency

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