Coordinator ensures Texas county's CERTs prepared

The citizens of Rockwall County, Texas, are in the well-trained and well-prepared hands of professional emergency response personnel and volunteer responders who can assist in several capacities in the event of a biological outbreak or attack, Emergency Management Coordinator Joe DeLane said.

DeLane coordinates response efforts for the six cities within Rockwall County, the smallest county in the state.

"We have an interjurisdictional response plan, and we are part of the Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI)," DeLane said in an interview with BioPrepWatch. "As part of CRI, we get grant funds to purchase equipment to respond to a biological or chemical issue; we train to dispense prophylaxis medications at points of dispensation."

Each year, the Rockwall County Emergency Management Department holds outreach programs to inform the community. "We try to approach the problem from all angles," DeLane said.

Training includes call-down drills and quarterly training drills. In addition to professional emergency response personnel, Rockwall County is home to two Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) totaling about 90 individuals. These teams are a big part of community education efforts, DeLane said.

"The CERT teams do set-up and provide community outreach for preparedness," he said.
DeLane has been involved in emergency response for many years. Prior to coming to Rockwall County, he worked at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport for 26 years before moving into the emergency management field.

DeLane joined Rockwall County seven years ago and said the local government didn't really have an emergency management plan; this allowed DeLane to create a plan from scratch and build it the way he wanted it to be.

His current goal is to get a faith-based preparedness initiative off the ground. "We have a megachurch here, and I would like to get them to be active in preparation and response," DeLane said. "If the citizens are prepared, that's fewer people that the first-responders have to dedicate their energy to."