If Ebola strikes Etowah County, Gadsden is ground zero for response

Mike Bryant is the director of emergency management for Etowah County.
Mike Bryant is the director of emergency management for Etowah County. | Contributed photo

Emergency management for Etowah County, Ala., is actually handled through the City of Gadsden, with Mike Bryant serving as the director.

Should a biological threat occur, the Alabama Department of Public Health would step in with the local agency acting to coordinate the response. With recent Ebola cases surfacing in the U.S., additional measures are being taken for that particular disease.

“We’re just now beginning to have some meetings to make sure that our responders have the proper information as to what they need to do if they encounter someone who is symptomatic (for Ebola),” Bryant said of the current Ebola concerns.

For other potential biological hazards, the Gadsden/Etowah County Emergency Management Agency responds in tandem with emergency responders that have jurisdiction within the particular community affected and would involve the appropriate law enforcement agency as well. Measures might also include working with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“All the other agencies come through us, and we are the coordinating agency between local jurisdictions and the State of Alabama for either additional response or resources,” Bryant said.

Bryant’s jurisdiction contains one of the country’s nine original sites used for disposal of weapons of mass destruction, so emergency crews in the area benefited from preparing for that program, which ended in 2010.

Bryant came to his position through city ranks, having been originally hired as a public information officer and purchasing agent. He assumed his current position 12 years ago.