The role of the Emergency Management Coordinator at the municipal level

At last night’s meeting an agenda discussion item (and a budget line item was increased) was added as councillors approved a line item increase for Emergency Management Coordinator expenses. To $4,000. There was some discussion that a stipend may be allotted to someone to fill the role which will become vacant when Jeff Helm retires at the end of 2019.

Typically, municipal emergency management coordinator positions are not paid roles; they’re usually assigned as additional duties for a public safety professional e.g., someone from a fire or law enforcement agency. Helm’s role has not been identified in public documents as one that received a special stipend award.

In previous years, the budget for Emergency Management has been:

  • 2019 … $2,000
  • 2018 … $6,000
  • 2017 … $1,500
  • 2016 … $1500

In each of those years, relatively static items have been part of the line item narrative: disaster planning manual & computer equipment: at least $500 was budget for each each year; in 2018, $5,000 was budgeted for $5,000.

“Emergency Management is a legal responsibility and function of local, county, state and federal government.”Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency



Planning Guide for the Model Emergency Operations Plan 

Emergency Management Handbook for Elected Officials

“Community and State Planning| All of us — from individuals, to families, to businesses and institutions to governments — must be responsible to protect the lives and property of those who depend on us from whatever emergencies may arise.

“By their very nature, emergencies are chaotic. A planning process will reduce this chaos and ensure that we can provide that protection. This process should include examining what can happen, what resources can be available to help, how to react to the situation, and coordination with those individuals and organizations we will be depending on during the emergency.

Asking questions and conducting coordination during non-disaster time allows us to avoid conflicts or indecision when seconds count. Knowing what to expect of others, and how we will react ourselves, may make the difference between survival and becoming a victim of the emergency.” – Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency

Municipal Coordinator Duties

In accordance with Title 35, a municipal coordinator is appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the executive officer or governing body of the municipality. The coordinator shall be professionally competent and capable of exerting leadership, planning, training and effecting coordination among operating agencies of government and controlling coordinated operations.

Without a doubt, the most important responsibility of municipal officials, and the municipal coordinator, is to coordinate disaster response efforts during the first 24 to 72 hours after any emergency. The municipal coordinator has a major role to play in helping the community and residents achieve the proper level of preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation activities for whatever may affect the municipality.

The municipal coordinator must create interest, motivate and involve the community in these activities and keep elected officials informed and involved with these
preparations. Each coordinator should use the resources available at county and state level and within the community to assist with these responsibilities.

The municipal coordinator should be very competent in:

  • operating a computer and/or tablet
  • Microsoft Office products
  • internet
  • email

Duties of a municipal Emergency Management Agency Coordinator:

  • Prepares and maintains an EOP for the municipality subject to the direction of the elected officials; reviews and updates as required. Develop and keep current emergency response checklists appropriate for the emergency needs and resources of the community.
  • Maintains coordination with the county EMA, and provides prompt information in emergencies, as available.
  • Coordinates with the county EMA, identifies hazards and vulnerabilities that may affect the municipality; recommends mitigation measures to reduce disaster effects; participates in the County Hazard Mitigation Team and assists in pre·disaster mitigation planning and grant submission efforts.
  • Identifies resources within the municipality that can be used to respond to a major emergency or disaster situation and requests needed resources from the county EMA.
  • Develops, maintains and ensures certification of trained staff to work in the municipal emergency operations center (EOC) when activated.
  • Mobilizes the municipal EOC and acts as the Command function within the incident Command System (ICS) structure in the EOC during an emergency/disaster.
  • Compiles cost figures for the conduct of emergency operations.
  • Attends training, workshops and seminars provided by municipal officials, county and other sources to maintain proficiency and currency in emergency management and emergency response planning and procedures.
  • Maintains current appropriate plans, procedures, guidance and laws issued by the county, PEMA and the Commonwealth within the EOC; has knowledge of the federal and state required plans for the jurisdiction and coordinates with all applicable agencies dealing with emergencies at dams, chemical and nuclear plants, schools, day cares, hospitals, prisons, nursing home facilities and special events.
  • Manages and mobilizes the equipment and staff of the municipal emergency operations center (EOC) when appropriate and as directed by the municipal elected officials.
  • Provides prompt and accurate information regarding municipal disaster emergencies to the appropriate municipal, county, and Commonwealth officials and the general public.
  • Participates in all tests, drills and exercises, including remedial drills and exercises that pertain to the municipality, as scheduled by the county or Commonwealth.
  • Participates in the integrated flood warning systems program as applicable for the municipality.
  • Develops mutual aid agreements, as applicable, with adjacent municipalities.
  • Encourages and ensures municipal officials declare disaster emergencies when needed and sends the signed disaster declaration to the county EMA.
  • Conducts damage reporting/assessment and expeditiously, within 24-hours of a disaster; provides the information to the county emergency management coordinator or the county EOC if activated.
  • Responds to the location of a disaster as requested by municipal officials or the county emergency management coordinator.
  • Attains basic and advanced certification in accordance with PEMA Directive 2017-02 and Title 35.
  • Ensures municipality is compliant with the components of the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Other duties as assigned by municipal elected officials


Every Pennsylvania County has an Emergency Management Agency coordinator or director. And every municipality or jurisdiction in each county has an emergency management coordinator.



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