STEVENS POINT, Wis. — Wisconsin emergency managers from across the state gathered in Stevens Point last week for the 10th Annual Wisconsin Emergency Management Association (WEMA) Conference to discuss best practices for keeping the citizens of Wisconsin safe.
The mission of WEMA is to advocate, promote, and represent statewide emergency management interests in order to enhance the safety and security of all citizens.
"Each year, Wisconsin Emergency Management Association holds its annual conference to give our members the opportunity to hear lessons learned from events in Wisconsin and throughout the United States,” said WEMA President Amy Nehls. “If each member takes back one idea to implement or remembers one strategy to utilize in their local emergency situation then we have been successful in our efforts."
Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general and homeland security advisor, welcomed the group of emergency responders.
“We had a very busy year,” Dunbar said as he recapped many of the emergency events that occurred in Wisconsin this past year, including the Polar Vortex in January, the flooding in March, and tornadoes in July. “We responded to numerous events and our partnerships led to our success. It’s an absolute privilege to work with all of you to help keep the citizens of Wisconsin safe.”
This year’s conference focused on preparing for the worst case scenario. Guest speakers spoke about a hurricane response in the U.S. Virgin Islands, managing the Jayme Closs search, and lessons learned from the Husky Energy Refinery explosion.
Lt. Col. Josephine Daniels, Wisconsin Army National Guard current operations branch chief, attended the conference as well.
“I was thankful to hear Ms. Mona Barnes’ [former Virgin Islands Emergency Management director] recollection of the Virgin Islands' response to the devastating Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” Daniels said. “She reminded all of us how vital our roles are and how difficult and complex managing the response of a major disaster truly is. She emphasized relationships and commitment as keys to success in trying times.
“The WEMA conference provided an excellent opportunity to continue to build relationships across the state with County Emergency Managers and First Responders,” Daniels continued. “Having these relationships established and understanding how we best support one another prior to an emergency provides for the necessary Wisconsin Emergency Management and Wisconsin National Guard ‘Speed to Response’ to protect lives, safety, and property for the citizens of Wisconsin.”