Story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Joe Cashion
PINE RIDGE, S.C.— Coordination of effort is critical to any emergency response situation in order to save lives and protect property. With that in mind, the South Carolina National Guard, in conjunction with the South Carolina Emergency Management Division hosted a first-ever summit Sept. 10, 2014, at the SCEMD in Pine Ridge.
The summit brought together representatives of all Department of Defense entities in the state along with civilian emergency responders with the goal of exchanging contact information and developing plans to be able to work seamlessly with one another should a domestic crisis occur in South Carolina.
“The purpose of emergency management, under the direction of our governor, is to coordinate resources in support of that local entity that is in charge of their own restoration,” said Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr., the Adjutant General of South Carolina. “So those are the discussions we want to have. It’s great to see the interest here.”
“What we are doing today are establishing relationships or cementing existing relationships,” said Kim Stenson, director of the SCEMD. “This is very critical because we have to understand what each other’s resources are, what our capabilities are and in some cases what our requirements are going to be.”
The event was unique in that it was the first time such a workshop has been held here in South Carolina, though other states have done them in the past. Col. Jakie Davis, the director of Military Support for the SCNG, took the lead role in working with the SCEMD to coordinate the event.
“I attended a summit like this one in North Carolina, which has been doing them for seven years,” Davis said. “So we took that idea and worked with the SCEMD to organize this one here.”
Davis explained that lessons learned from past domestic crises such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 illustrated the need for all emergency responders to a situation to be able to operate as one.
“There were a lot of agencies out trying to do good things but in a lot of cases they were stepping on each other’s toes or they were duplicating efforts and resources, so this summit is an effort to eliminate that,” said Davis. “We want to make sure we are all working toward a common goal while we’re complimenting each other instead of duplicating our efforts to respond.”
Ultimately, with agencies working together efficiently, it’s the citizens of South Carolina who will benefit the most should a domestic crisis occur in their neighborhood.
“We all have the same goal,” said Davis. “We want to support the citizens of South Carolina and we want to do that in a way where we maximize each other’s capabilities.”