Emergency Management & Homeland Security

Emergencies happen every day.  It might be a cut finger, a house fire, or a winter storm.  Most of the time, the emergency response is predictable and well planned - a bandage or a trip to the doctor, a community fire department response, or the county snowplows working throughout the night.  One thing about emergencies, though – we never know exactly what will happen or when.  If we did, they wouldn’t be called emergencies.

Lake County, like all counties in Minnesota, has an emergency management department to help plan the smooth response to these emergencies.  This means coordinating people, equipment, communication, and training among different responding groups so that we can all respond as a team when the time comes.  Emergency plans are developed with county and community officials and departments, emergency responders like law enforcement, fire and medical teams, industries and businesses and state and federal partners.  Then we “exercise” the plans through training and drills (preparedness).  We figure out how to get the community back to normal (recovery).  We brainstorm on how to prevent or reduce the damage of future emergencies (mitigation).  We practice when and how to get outside help when the emergency overwhelms our own resources – those emergencies are labeled “disasters".

Private citizens play a big part in all of these areas.  First, practice all the things you learned in kindergarten.  Make sure you home’s fire alarms and other safety detectors are working.  Store extra food and supplies to stay at home for three days in the event of bad weather or illness.  Hold family evacuation drills, knowing where you will meet and who to call to coordinate news.

Second, we all help our neighbors in times of crisis.  Consider getting trained to assist in bigger ways.  Join your local fire department or medical first responder team.  Sign up for your Community Emergency Response Team or Minnesota Responds medical reserve corps.  Find out more about each of these options under “Resources and Links” or contact our office.

One of these days, a personal, local or regional emergency will involve each of us.  It’s good to know that we’ve planned ahead, and that others will be there to help us out.

BJ Kohlstedt
Emergency Management Director
(218) 226-4444
bj.kohlstedt@co.lake.mn.us