Tofino’s district office might welcome a new employee next year.
Tofino’s Emergency Program Executive Committee has asked council to consider hiring a part-time emergency coordinator to develop and maintain local emergency plans, support volunteer-based programming and coordinate training.
Tofino held its first 2016 budget meeting on Oct. 20 and documentation from the meeting suggests the coordinator would earn about $25,555 per year.
The district has not had an emergency coordinator since Eric Graham left the position in 2013 and was not replaced.
Graham’s departure dropped the district’s emergency coordination responsibilities onto the desk of community sustainability manager Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers told the Westerly he would welcome a part-time coordinator because he’s only able to commit about four hours a week to emergency programming.
“I think there’s too much work for it to be on the side of my desk. It would help improve the emergency program so that we’re prepared for when disaster strikes in any form of any size,” he said.
“We are prepared now but having someone who is committed and on it will just make sure we’re that much more prepared…and the community can sleep at night knowing that someone’s taking care of it.”
Rodgers said the importance of effective emergency coordination is often overlooked.
“No one cares about it until the day an earthquake happens or a landslide happens,” he said.
“It requires energy and it’s just not the type of position that can be done off to the side of someone’s desk. I’d feel more comfortable if there was somebody who had eyes on it more often.”
Tofino CAO Bob MacPherson said emergency management would stay under Rodger’s community sustainability umbrella but the part-time employee would free Rodgers up to focus on other things.
“There will still be some management oversight required from Mr. Rodgers but I’m hoping it’s less time than he’s currently spending,” MacPherson said.
Tofino has put a keen eye on emergency management this year as the district launched a new volunteer position, with a $5,000 stipend, in June to put together a community-wide emergency communications strategy.
The position was awarded to Brent Baker.
“Brent’s doing a great job,” Rodgers said. “He’s out there in the community and I’m really pleased with what he’s been able to accomplish so far.”
He said Baker is putting together an emergency information brochure as well as a new evacuation map for the district.
Tofino also kicked off monthly testing of its two tsunami sirens in July and Rodgers said these sirens will continue to be heard on the first Friday of every month for the rest of the year.
The volunteer position and siren testing were recommendations brought to the district from the Emergency Program Executive Committee, which Rodgers noted has been very active since being struck last year.
“They recognize the importance of preparing ourselves for emergencies,” he said.