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PrepTalks: Philip Mann – Public Works & Emergency Management

PrepTalks: Philip Mann – Public Works & Emergency Management

[PrepTalks Theme Playing} Lifeline services are services
whose functions allow the community to survive and they’re critical to the
operation of the function in the community and these are the services
that provide basic amenities not only to our citizens, but also to our first
responders as we’re addressing any disaster that may occur and in most
cases public works agencies or our sister agencies maintain those lifeline
services. Typical examples of lifeline services our transportation networks
your roads your bridges your traffic signals your signs and it’s important
obviously that those systems are functioning and operating so we can
respond to the folks who need our services immediately and also allow
those folks to be able to get medical help, food, shelter. Our stormwater management systems if they don’t operate at our
full efficiency we can’t get to people and it’s up to us to restore the
services another thing that becomes an issue with a with stormwater systems as
if there’s a hazardous materials incident and that stuff gets into the
storm water system we need to be able to know how to get that stuff out solid
waste your trash collection everybody knows what happens if your
trash doesn’t get picked up over a period time you start getting disease
and vermin and everything that goes with that water wastewater and wastewater
treatment plants potable water is very important to our well-being and to our
firefighting. Gas and electricity and in most cases a lot of times in public
works public works maintains the first but a
lot of times the gas and electricity are maintained by a separate utility from in
my agency the city owns the utility company that does gas, electricity, water,
and wastewater when you get into emergency management it’s critical the
public works, fire rescue, and law enforcement, and emergency managers work together to restore those lifeline services. It’s got to be a unified
response we can’t work independent of each other. It’s very important that we
work together to restore those lifeline services for the citizens that we serve.
Last year doing Hurricane Irma this is our unified command. On the day shift we
have what I call the top line managers because that’s when our politicians are
working and this is what we push forth throughout public works across the country. The politicians
when they’re around they want the directors the chiefs and
everything, so this picture here specifically it’s myself, our assistant
police chief, our police chief, and our fire chief and usually on our night
shift when we go to 24 hours shifts 12 on 12 off the night shift
usually consumes of like in my case it’s the assistant director one of the
assistant chiefs and the assistant fire chief and it’s really important that we
all work together to make sure those lifelines are restored. During last
year we we were in command for about three days and in command
that’s when we’re doing the restoring the lifeline services, getting those
essential services to our citizens who are trapped. Once we get everything
restored and people are back to some pseudo normal we go back to our normal
daily functions and in the case of public works that usually means cleaning
up all the debris. One of the things that was an outgrowth of the hurricanes in
2004 when we didn’t work as well together in emergency management is the
task force we created and I think this has become a very vital thing. This is
one of the things that as Chair of a APWA’s emergency management committee I have pushed nationwide to create these task forces. These task forces we
assemble in Gainesville prior to the storm we pre-deploy them somewhere where they can be safe and it consists of as you can see in the picture it consists
of a fire truck, a fully complemented engine company, two uniformed police
officers in a police car, one of our crews that includes a tree surgeon
because of all the trees and knowing how to cut a tree because sometimes you can
do it wrong, and we also have a representative from the utility company
because their motto is, “If it ain’t dead it’ll kill you”. So we don’t want our
staff getting into trees with down lines when they may or may not be live so the
utility company provides us a representative to either let us know the line is live and kill it or they can work back with their system to
get the line killed if it’s a larger component of that. These have worked
really well the primary purpose of these task forces is to work our way out from
wherever they’re pre deployed create routes to the fire stations so the EMS
is paramedics can get out to the neighborhoods, to the police station, to
the hospitals, and then to the grocery stores. In Florida we have a large
grocery store chain called Publix they recently retrofitted every one of their
stores across the state with a generator so that after an emergency
it helps us because they no longer have to rely on us who is then relying on
FEMA to bring relief supplies. They keep their stores up and running to the
extent possible unless that particular store is devastated so for us it’s
critical to get the folks back out to those stores. There’s several
different ways I’d like to think outside the box and how public works can help
with restoring those lifeline services beyond your normal everyday hurricane, not in a normal everyday hurricane, but in a
hurricane you’ve got mass devastation and one of the key components is
returning our citizens to their normal way of life. That’s what we want to do we
wanna get those services returned. There’s lots of other things that affect
affect people’s daily lives a fatal crash scene I saw in the news this
morning there was a bad crash somewhere here in the DC area I’m sure it’s
probably a daily occurrence and that will close a section of road because
once you have a fatal crash you’ve got a fatal crash investigation, so that will
that will affect that section of road for a half of a day one of the things we
work with our Police Department and our Fire Department on is trying to help
them clean up that section of road so that when we do open the road there’s
not debris everywhere and a lot times people don’t think about
this but one of the things we’ll do is we’ll show up at the scene will
establish a traffic control perimeter for them so that police officers sworn
police officers can go do their job whether it’s investigating the crash or
moving on something else let our staff do what they’re trained to do and as you
can see in this example we’ve got a street sweeper in this particular case
we swept the street because it was glass everywhere the other thing we’ll do is
well you’ll have bio hazards and there’s no real good way to clean up biohazard
after we’ll work with the fire department to do the best we can to get
those cleaned up, but you do not want to leave blood or some other biohazard
laying on the ground after a crash scene. On January 24, 2012 in Florida we had one of the worst total victim accidents in the history of the
country, there’s been several worse since unfortunately it’s kind of like some of
the other incidents we’re having every one is worse than the last one. We
had we had multiple fatalities on Payne’s Prairie the interstate was closed. You ask how does public works get involved in that well public works provides a variety of services to assist the total response
and in this particular case one of the things we did is we set up all the
detour routes. It’s important that we help getting the interstate open, but
we worked with the DOT getting all the detour routes set up. Then we use our traffic management system to reprogram the traffic signals
along the detour route because I-75 is a six-lane facility it goes from the southwest Florida coast up to west coast of Florida and then to the
north and what’s critical about I-75 a lot of the goods that are shipped up
into this area and into the Midwest come out of the Port of Tampa. They all come
through this segment of 75. In this particular case because of the
devastation the road was closed for over two days. We had we had fatalities in
both directions just a little overview Paynes Prairie is an old lake that
a sinkhole opened and the water drained out and now the interstate is at
the lake bottom level or a little above we had a forest fire happen, a brush fire
in the lake, and it also was foggy that night and so it was a combination
of bad elements that completely obscured vision to less than a foot and so we had
a series of cars in both directions entering at 70 miles an hour and plowing
into the series of crashed vehicles and it was just it was almost like
unfortunately like something out of a cartoon with cars just kept going in and
plowing into the crash so we had multiple victims we you can see from the
picture on the bottom the tractor trailers lined up all the way that were
part of the crash. How did we get involved? Not only did we do the the traffic routing and the detours we also helped DOT with the
repair of the road afterward we had several tractor trailers that burned one
tractor-trailer burn for over 24 hours because the materials in it. Another
thing that we did with our transportation system the transit system
in Gainesville is in the Public Works Department, so we sent buses out there
because with an accident of this magnitude in January if you’re familiar
with Florida in January it’ll be really cold in the morning and
then it can be warm in the afternoon, so we had walking wounded on the interstate
did this obviously overwhelmed all of our resources, so we used buses to
transport folks who did not need an ambulance to the hospital for minor
medical help. We also use the transit bus in the morning for those folks who
didn’t need to be transported but needed somewhere to be so that they could have
a place out of the weather elements and then as we moved from a response operation to a recovery operation, we then provided a bus during
the day for rehab for the other first responders so police and
fire could get in there and take a break out of the heat in the air-conditioned
bus so we played a role in that and like I said we were there for 24 plus hours
the road was closed for 48 hours in which we managed the traffic around
through the city during that entire time. Pumping operations one of the big things
we get into in Florida was the flooding we get a lot of flooding events in
Florida we’re flat our stuff drains usually to sinkholes and then goes down
to the aquifer we have few rivers that drain to the ocean but a lot most of
ours go into the aquifer. Our flood channels are usually fixed and this is a
situation where we had two subdivisions that were closed off our fire couldn’t
get in to do EMS work so we work to pump the water in Florida one of the things
we have to do is pump water from one basin into the next where it is draining
so this situation in order to get two subdivisions back open to the
public we had to pump water for better part of
a day to get a pump down far enough that a large fire truck and get in there. Our fire truck drivers have to know how to get into places like this, but still
it’s incumbent upon us and in public works to get the water pumped down so they can
even do that. One of the things that we worked on with our Police Department, in
2004 this was the road to the helicopter pad. Obviously they couldn’t get to their
helicopter pad after after the three hurricanes went through.
We had three hurricanes in Florida in 2004 and my county was impacted by all
three, somebody in our County must have alienated God because he sent Mother
Nature on us so one of the things we had to quickly do was restore this road so
that we could get goods and supplies to our helicopter pad. Unfortunately they could get it through the airport there but everybody here knows what security is
like right now. If you can get stuff on the land side it’s gonna be a lot easier
than it is trying to get it on the airport side trying to get materials and
supplies in through security and so this is a situation where we quickly working in
conjunction with our police department and unified command we quickly created a
temporary road until we can get the final fix done. One of the things
with our fire department we assist our fire department a lot on a more routine
basis than you would think. Iin Florida we have a lot of mobile homes and one of
the things that people do with mobile homes, I’m from Virginia so the first
time I’d seen this, when the roof fails on a mobile home instead of replacing
the roof because it’s kind of difficult you build a carport over it and then
when a mobile home catches on fire for any of you that knows those things burned
fast so you end up with the original roof and the carport roof on top and it
creates a really hot environment for our fire department to get into so they’ll
use us to help remove the roof. This is an example behind me of of a warehouse
that was about a size of a football field that had a metal roof and a pole
barn, wood poles, and it burned and the roof just sit down on it the fire
department, had hot spots could not get into it we brought our track hoe
as you can see in the foreground there with a grappler on it and we would reach
out into that roof and pull sections of the roof back and then the fire
department would spray it with the tower to knock the hot spots down. Now one of
the things we do to make this successful is we have operators in our public works
department that are trained to wear self-contained breathing apparatuses and
we’ve learned that it’s more efficient for them to work with us because our
equipment operators are some of the best in the country. I’m proud to say that one
of my equipment operators won the National rodeo last week in Kansas City.
I can’t wait to present that to my commission when I get back.
My opinion we’re much more much more equipped to operate our equipment
then the fire department is, trying to teach a firefighter to operate a track hoe.
So these are just the things we normally do on a routine basis to assist in
unified command. We’ve developed such a relationship that the police chief and
the fire chief both have my personal cell phone numbers and they call me on
routine things. How can we assist? What can we do? One of the things
that APWA, the American Public Works Association, released this year is our
new first responder emblem and we’ve been improving our relationship with
other first responders. What I feel is that we need to improve our
relationship within ourselves and we also need to improve our relationships
with the other first responders, and doing a better job, and how we do that
fits into what say fits into FEMA’s 2018 to 2022 srategic goals
and FEMA’s first goal is to build a culture of preparedness through the
events we do in Gainesville and I’ve talked mostly today about natural
disasters I haven’t talked about man-made disasters. We’ve created a culture of
preparedness, we’ve created a culture of incident command and unified command and working together our police chief and our fire chief and myself communicate on
a daily basis, on a business basis and on a personal basis, I’ve gotten to know
them and I think that’s a critical factor. It’s very important that you
develop those relationships in advance. Goal two ready the nation for catastrophic
disaster we learned in 2004 we learned lessons in 2004 of how it’s important to
work together. One of the critical things that the task force was an outgrowth of
was we had police officers standing with trees that had downed power lines in
them in the rain that we didn’t know that they were there because we didn’t
communicate. We have worked to build that communication that does not happen now I want to get that tree cut I want to get that police officer back on the road, so
it’s very important that we develop that catastrophic disaster and that includes
for man-made disasters too, like acts of terrorism. We need to be prepared. We had a speaker in Gainesville recently who also spoke at UC Berkeley and the University of Virginia, you guys probably
know who I’m talking about. They came they brought a couple of hate groups
with them. Public works’s job was to establish
the hardened perimeter we used heavy equipment to establish a hardened
perimeter in being prepared for a catastrophic disaster and it can quickly
turn into a catastrophic disaster, 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing are both
examples of that. Then strategic goal number three is reduce the complexity of
FEMA I can’t help you all with that but those of us on the local level
understand the complexity of FEMA and how that relates to us is we understand
how difficult it is I’m I’m still going through reviews for Matthew and I’ve
still got Irma to go so when I get through with Matthew I’m sure FEMA will
be working with me on Irma, but if it’s that difficult for us to work with FEMA
in your strategic goal to me it’s important for us to be able to reduce
the complexity to our citizens we serve they don’t care whose road it is, they
don’t care who owns it, they don’t care which fire department is
coming, they have a problem they want us to show up, and that’s very critical and
that’s something that’s true through public works departments all over the
country and with that my takeaway for you today is it’s the most critical
thing is getting our citizens back to a normal life that would be the one thing
that I would say, we want to get our citizens back to their normal way of
life going to work, going to school, going to play, and in order to do that the most
efficient way is if police, fire, and public works work together. Thank you. [Applause] One of the things that’s critical in
that is learn lessons from what has happened in the past and
then, the biggest issue we’re fighting now, talking about resiliency, we’re
looking at storms because we are now receiving more intense rain in less
time, and we’re actually blowing the curves away. You know we have these
standard curves we’ve used forever we’re kind of finding that with the storms
we’re getting today, and it’s not a Florida thing it’s across the country
thing. How do we build our systems to be more resilient to accommodate that? And I
think in the end that’s going to be one of those things we end up changing the
model we use for flooding. We do it by number of signals out, number of people without power, I believe that’s what you’re asking. We report it that way. How many people are out of water, power, and that way
versus other ways and we keep a running tab. We use a program
called “City Works” that keeps us in track, it’s our work management system it keeps
us in touch with all of our systems that are out. We practice emergency management
seven times a year and we do it in a very planned staged, we have all of the
first responders including public works there, and that has allowed us to develop
relationships and what I’ve learned from that is that it’s important that on a
non-emergency event just through the year the emergency managers bring the
police chief, the fire chief, public works director together even if it’s just for
lunch to get to know the other people, but more importantly than that what I’ve
learned it can’t just be the top, because I can work with
our fire chief, what’s more important to me is that my crew leaders can work with
the sergeant or the district commander in the field and so we practice that all
levels and we do it several times a year instead of waiting til Hurricane
Florence is about to make landfall in two weeks and now I’ve got to deal with things and it’s important to know the personalities of the people
you’re dealing with and how they are normal circumstances you can only do
that through either big tests, drills, or just meetings. We meet once a month. [Music Playing]

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