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Committee working on county emergency response plan

Nye County could have a unified emergency response plan by next fall, officials said.

At a quarterly meeting of the Nye County Local Emergency Planning Committee on Wednesday, authorities proposed establishing a sub-committee to create a subsequent plan that would outline a countywide response strategy for emergency situations.

“It will be a step-by-step plan,” said Daniel Sweeney, town manager of Round Mountain. “If Nye County goes down, social media goes down. Tell the public and the emergency responders how to communicate.”

Officials said the plan would address the combination of great distances and sometimes-failing communications throughout the third largest county in the nation.

The committee would be made up of representatives of various emergency services, electrical companies and community stakeholders, Sweeney said. The item will go on the Nov. 4 meeting agenda, after which the committee can create a plan and come back in the first quarter of 2016 to present it to LEPC.

Sweeney said the county could see the plan as soon as next fall, but it’s not yet clear when it will be finished.

“Communications is the first thing that always fails and that’s the first thing that you start with is getting the word out, so it makes it tough when your communication isn’t there,” he said.

Meanwhile, several officials noted that as the county becomes more reliant on digital technologies, there is a need for a timely delivery of emergency services no matter the circumstances.

“We are a little bit at the mercy of our (cell phone) service providers,” said Nye County Emergency Services Director Vance Payne. “The service providers provide us service at the most economical thoughts that they can. We, as a consumer, have no say over how that technology is deployed.”

Nye County doesn’t have a unified social network policy, however certain governmental entities, such as Nye County Sheriff’s Office, had already utilized Facebook to relay information to the public, Payne said.

“We used some of our personal Facebook accounts and got the information out and we got a fair amount of feedback. People were listening,” Payne said.

Nye County Manager Pam Webster said the county hasn’t yet made any plans to enter into social media reporting due to the lack of staff.

“I cannot say if the commissioners would budget the required resources for social media,” Webster said in an email. “I think we have made significant cuts to the budget in the past few years, and I would expect consideration for reinstating some of those services before a position would be established for social media.”

Payne said the previous communications plan turned out to be flawed because it was based on landlines and hadn’t been adjusted to a cellular service.

“Our world has changed in just a number of years and most communication,” he said. “At what point does not being able to make a phone call become an emergency?”

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