O'Brien County supervisors approve plan

O’Brien County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Jared Johnson talks to the supervisors Tuesday morning, July 16, about the county’s comprehensive emergency management plan. Before it was approved, the former plan had not been updated for about five years.

PRIMGHAR—O’Brien County’s comprehensive emergency management plan has been updated.

The board of supervisors unanimously approved the 54-page plan after county emergency management agency coordinator Jared Johnson reviewed it Tuesday, July 16, in Primghar.

“Over the last month, two months, we’ve been working on several of the county plans,” Johnson said. “This year, one of the larger plans that came up was our county comprehensive emergency management plan.

“The goal today is to kind of talk about some of the updates and give you a chance to look at the plan,” he said. “I’m trying to get that plan out to a bunch of elected officials so there’s more awareness about the plan.”

The county’s comprehensive emergency management plan establishes the framework for an effective system to ensure the county and its municipalities will be adequately prepared to deal with the occurrence of emergencies and disasters.

The plan outlines the roles and responsibilities of local government, state and federal agencies, and volunteer organizations, and unites the efforts of these groups under the emergency support function format with a designated lead agency for a comprehensive approach to mitigation, planning, response and recovery from identified hazards.

As part of his review of the comprehensive emergency management plan, Johnson went over the county’s 15 emergency support functions, or ESFs.

“Each year, the EMA commission’s responsible for updating 20 percent, which those duties kind of get delegated down to the emergency management coordinator,” he said.

Johnson noted the process is a bit different this year.

“In the past, counties could select which 20 percent they would like to select,” he said. “During the past year, the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department — they changed that to try to get everyone kind of on the same schedule for which ESFs are reviewed at the same time.”

This year, the ESFs that Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management recommended that all counties in the state review and update were communications, emergency management, oil and hazardous materials, and external affairs.

“This plan doesn’t go into really defined specifics,” Johnson said. “That’s where the ESFs play a role, like if we have something we want to specifically go into for like communications or transportation. Those are separate plans.”

Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management also recommended that all counties review and update the basic plan portion of their comprehensive emergency management plans.

The basic plan part includes the purpose, scope and methodology of the overall plan, direction and control, organizational structure, alert notification and warning, the four phases of emergency management actions, responsibilities, authorities and references.

“This basic plan is kind of your initial introduction plan that starts before the ESFs begin,” Johnson said. “We have the emergency support function annexes that kind of go into the county resources.

“There are support annexes that would be common to all incidents,” he said. “There are incident annexes for specific incidents. And then there are also appendices.”

The last time the county’s comprehensive emergency management plan was updated was about five years ago.

The plan contains basic geographic information about the county. That part of the plan was updated to reflect the addition of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Johnson noted an update that was made in the comprehensive emergency management plan under the category of hazard analysis.

“In the past, we’ve had a very low flash-flood risk,” he said. “That has been moved up to moderate. This past year, we’ve had quite a few flash-flood incidents. The hazard analysis is something we can review actually on an annual basis and update it as things come up.”


The United States has a federal response plan that uses a functional approach to group the type of federal assistance that is most likely to be needed under 15 emergency support functions.

Each ESF is assigned a primary agency. There are also support agencies assigned for one or more ESFs.

O’Brien County has adopted the ESF concept to facilitate coordination with state and federal agencies during a disaster.

The county’s comprehensive emergency management plan contains the following 15 ESFs:

  • Transportation.
  • Communications.
  • Public works and engineering.
  • Firefighting.
  • Emergency management.
  • Mass care, emergency assistance, housing and human services.
  • Logistics management and resource support.
  • Public health and medical services.
  • Search and rescue.
  • Oil and hazardous materials.
  • Agriculture and natural resources.
  • Energy.
  • Public safety and security.
  • Business/infrastructure.
  • External affairs.

For more information, contact O’Brien County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Jared Johnson at 712-757-4305 or jjohnson@obriencounty.org.