This is in regard to the political cartoon in the Nov. 14 News-Times. I'm glad to see that the Columbia County Mobile Operations Center (MOC) is being recognized. However, I was a little disappointed in the "flavor" of the cartoon.
Columbia County received the MOC in 2004 and it was then valued at about $500,000. It was a basic, bare-bones vehicle that was provided by GEMA to support not only Columbia County but to support 23 other counties.
It has been used in Jefferson County for 911 and other support after their tornado wiped out local emergency communications. It was on standby for Katrina, used in support of a number of South Georgia wildfires and for numerous Columbia County events.
In our first major emergency drill, just after the unit was received, the MOC was used as a joint command center. That drill emphasized the strengths and weaknesses of the new unit. One example was that all the various incoming and outgoing communications had to be recorded manually.
Through many hours of hard work, much of it non-paid overtime, Emergency Management Deputy Director Rusty Welsh and quite a few unpaid volunteers have made the MOC a top-notch emergency response vehicle that all of Columbia County can be proud of. The $172,000 grant was provided specifically to upgrade communications and other capabilities so that, should tragedy happen, the citizens will have one of the best response capabilities in the country.
The county should praise its lucky stars that it has dedicated professionals, Welsh, Emergency and Operations Director Pam Tucker and the many volunteers that spend their off-duty time to provide a very valuable service.
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