Rush County Emergency Management Agency director says county isn't prepared

Charles Kemker
Charles Kemker | Courtesy of Rush County, Indiana

Rush County Emergency Management Agency Director Charles Kemker believes residents of the Indiana county are not as prepared as they could be for a biological outbreak, such as Ebola, or a biological terror attack.

“As a small rural county, the only thing we can rely on, if we get wind of something coming down the pipeline, is to get law enforcement active in doing reconnaissance,” Kemker said during a recent interview with BioPrepWatch. “Our resources to handle a situation like this are very limited.”

Rush County citizens may be aware of situations that might come up, particularly the farmers who work with chemicals and know how those chemicals would affect them, but Kemker does not believe that they are truly ready for the realities of a biological attack or outbreak. 

“It may be in the back of people’s minds, with everything that’s going on in the world, but as far as preparedness, I really doubt it," Kemker said. "They would have to rely on my office or the health department for information if something happened."

Kemker said that his department would serve as the resource coordinator between the area and the Indiana State Department of Health.

Training for a biological incident would require that most people go out of the area. Kemker had to go out of state to receive training for terrorism response and preparedness, something most citizens simply don't have the time or resources for. 

“Very few of our responders are trained to respond to something like that,” Kemker said.

He would like to see that number improve, but it comes down to the availability of funding, training, equipment and resources.

Before Kemker moved into his current role, he spent more than 28 years as a firefighter in Rush County. That background, and his training in terrorism and emergency response prepared him to move into the emergency management agency position.