Baldwin EMA handles emergencies without Director for nearly a year
BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WPMI) —
Families will face their biggest annual threat of Hurricane Season without a permanent director of The Emergency Management Agency. Reggie Chitwood blamed "personnel conflicts" when he quit three weeks ago.
County Commissioners have decided to start searching for Chitwood's replacement after the November election, leaving the position open for nearly a full year.
Commissioners say it would be unfair to hire a new director who might not meet the approval of new commissioners come November. For now, the Deputy Director of the Baldwin County EMA is running the show.
Acting EMA Director Jessie Peacock says people in Baldwin County can rest assured, they are safe during this time of change. "We're fully staffed and everybody is continuing to do their job and move forward," said Peacock.
He cites the response to the last week's charter bus crash on I-10 that killed the driver and injured dozens of students from Channelview, Texas. All involved praised the coordination between agencies - EMA and hospitals.
We aked ER Manager Bill Gore, who's staff at the new Malbis emergency room got their first real test - since opening last Summer. "The statewide agencies and ems, everybody there was great communication. I can't say enough about the first responders that were first on the scene. They took care of people at the sight and sent us what we needed to get and they sent the right king of people. They did a great job. Overall is was amazing," said Gore.
Also, last week, another test for the short-handed EMA - The massive school security law enforcement training exercise held at Fairhope High School. This was an EMA planned event that had been in the works for more than an year.
"You come away with some confidence that you've already been through a rough situation and you were able to mitigate the threat," said Foley Police Chief David Wilson.
We spoke with Sheriff and several fire chiefs and they too say they feel confident - the EMA "as is" without a permanent director, is poised to handle the upcoming hurricane season.
Current commissioners said they want to wait until after new commissioners take their seats to make a hire. Three of the four current commissioners are running for re-election.