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Emergency Management

Franklin County Emergency Management Logo over two firefighters

Franklin County Emergency Management Agency

Ryan M. Buckingham, IPEM, EMT-P
Director of Emergency Management

Emergency Management Headquarters
401 E. Park Street
Benton, Illinois 62812

Headquarters: (618) 439-4362
Fax: (618) 439-4363

fcema@franklincountyil.gov

Overview, Mission, Responsibilities & Critical Function

The mission of the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency shall be to provide for the coordination of all emergency management programs within its jurisdiction. Additionally the agency shall provide for the coordination with private organizations, other political subdivisions, and the State and Federal government.

The purpose of Franklin County Emergency Management Agency shall be the coordination of emergency services functions, which may be necessary for or proper to prevent, minimize, repair and alleviate injury, and damage resulting from any natural or human caused hazards.

Franklin County Emergency Management Agency shall perform such emergency management functions within Franklin County as prescribed in the Franklin County Emergency Management Ordinance and the IEMA act, and in addition, shall conduct such emergency management related functions outside of the jurisdictional limits as may be required under mutual aid agreements and compacts as are entered into.

The specific functions that Franklin County Emergency Management Agency shall perform include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Developing emergency plans and standard operating procedures which outline emergency management responsibilities of county government, as well as activities which ensure coordination among and between local, county, state, and federal governments. This includes various County emergency action plans for facility use and continuity of operations/continuity of government plans. Developing and conducting emergency management training and education programs for county and municipal employees as well as the general public.

  • Coordinating with private relief  and non governmental partner agencies in the development of capabilities to ensure the provision of relief supplies and assistance to disaster victims as well as emergency responders and their families.

  • Developing, conducting, and evaluating emergency operations exercises, designed to test the ability of local and county governments to respond to emergencies, public health emergencies and disasters.
  • Receiving and analyzing intelligence information regarding potential hazards, regardless of their nature, and disseminating appropriate warning information to government officials, and as appropriate, the general public.

  • Supporting the National Incident Management System (NIMS), in preparation for, and throughout the response and recovery phases of an emergency, disaster, public health emergency or significant event, through the activation of Franklin County’s Emergency Operations Center, Emergency Operations Plan, and deployment of appropriate resources.

  • Develop and issue public information in preparation for, or during periods of impending or actual disaster, public health or emergency situation.

  • Enhancing the capabilities of county and local government to respond to emergencies, public health or disaster situations by managing critical supplies and/or resources.

  • Establishing and maintaining a communication systems, within Franklin County’s Emergency Operations Center, Mobile Operations Center, and public safety answer points capable of communicating with key county departments, as well as appropriate state and federal agencies. Utilizing these systems and others as appropriate, to manage communications resources during an emergency, public health emergency or disaster.

  • Assisting any county department, as requested, with services within the scope of the emergency management program.

  • Manage Franklin County’s Citizens Corps program and assist in the coordination of Franklin County’s Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC).

  • Oversee and manage Franklin County Government’s interests as it relates to the delivery of Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

Office of the Director

The Office of the Director serves as the central point of coordination for all agency Bureaus, activities, and programs. The Office of the Director provides administration services and oversight over the agency’s three Bureaus as well as all public programs, grants, planning and special projects. During times of emergency, the Office of the Director coordinates all agency resources and ensures coordination between all County Government departments, agencies, and offices through the Franklin County Emergency Operations Center. Additional responsibilities include Franklin County’s Hazard Mitigation Program, Emergency Planning, Local Emergency Planning Committee activities, outreach and coordination with local units of government and the management of Franklin County’s efforts to provide emergency medical services.

Agency Leadership / Bureau Command Staff 

Director – Ryan M. Buckingham 
Deputy Director – Gary A. Little
Chief of Staff – Amos Abbott
Bureau Chief of Operations – Zachary Halstead
Bureau Chief of Preparedness – Daniel Hyson

Special Operations Team Commands

Dive Team – Lieutenant Robert Daun
K-9 Search & Rescue Team – Lieutenant Myra Seets

Crisis Management / Emergency Coordination
Providing leadership in times of crisis is the most critical role of the Office of the Director. Illinois statute and County Ordinance task the Emergency Management Agency as the lead coordination agency for any and all large scale incidents and disasters that happen within the jurisdiction. The Office of the Director ensures the Franklin County Emergency Operations Center is coordinating with local incident and unified command posts to ensure effective emergency operations in times of crisis.

Crisis Planning
The Office of the Director manages Franklin County’s efforts to plan before an emergency happens. Currently, the Office of the Director oversees the development and maintenance of the following plans:

  • Franklin County Emergency Operations Plan
  • Franklin County Hazard Mitigation Plan
  • Franklin County Tactical Incident Communications Plan
  • Franklin County Emergency Alert System Plan
  • Franklin County Facility Emergency Actions Plan

Municipal Emergency Management
Franklin County has sixteen municipalities. Franklin County Emergency Management Agency provides emergency management services for all sixteen as none of the cities or villages currently have their own stand alone emergency management program. Program coordination is handled directly with the Mayor or Village President and emergency services are coordinated with municipal public safety Chiefs during times of emergency.

Public Information, Advisories & Alerts

nixle emergency management agency logo

Franklin County Emergency Management Agency and our partner agencies use Nixle as a publishing system for public information, advisories and alert messages. Nixle is a Community Information Service dedicated to helping you stay connected to the information that matters most to you, depending on your physical location. Nixle is built on the most secure, reliable, and high-speed distribution platform, ensuring that you receive trusted and immediate, geographically relevant information. Information is immediately available over your cell phone by text message, by email, and over the web. Your account can be customized so you receive the information that matters most to you. Whether it is where you live, work, or have friends or family throughout the country, the information is immediately available to you over your mobile phone, email and computer.

The system is simple to use and provides an easy sign-up process. Register now and learn more at www.nixle.com.

You can also text your ZIP CODE to 888777 to sign up via text.

Citizen questions about the service and its capabilities can be answered through our Frequently Asked Questions found at http://www.nixle.com/faqs.html

Should you need additional assistance, Nixle provides free citizen support via e-mail at support@nixle.com.

DISCLAIMER: Nixle is not intended to replace emergency warning systems. Nixle is an internet based platform therefore messages may be delayed in times of loss of connectivity. Nixel and its services are not affiliated with the County of Franklin, Illinois in any way other than by annual contract. The County of Franklin, its officers, agents, employees and contractors: (a) Do not guarantee that any particular message or type of message will be sent or that you will receive every message. (b) Are not responsible for lost or misdirected messages, changed email addresses or phone numbers, function of your computer equipment, phone, or software, or messages that fail to be transmitted or received due to problems with servers or transmission (e.g., cable, telephone, satellite, etc.) or human error. (c) DISCLAIM ANY AND ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANT-ABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

The service is free, but standard text message rates may apply for cell phone subscribers.

Bureau of Operations

The Bureau of Operations stands ready to respond to all large scale emergencies and disasters within Franklin County and the State of Illinois. The Bureau of Operations provides response and public services related to the following core functions:

Incident Management

The staff within the Bureau of Operations are highly trained in the use of the Incident Command System including position-specific responsibilities and overall incident coordination. Personnel from the Bureau can assist local incidents commanders and local responders in any areas of incident management if requested.

Special Operations K-9 Search and Rescue Team

When someone is reported lost or overdue, members of the agency’s search and rescue response team are available to respond to help in the search effort. The agency maintains K-9 units available for deployment upon request. Canine units specialize in air scent SAR and human remains detection and recovery. A unit is comprised of one handler, one assistant, and canine.

Special Operations Dive Team

The Special Operations Dive Team is comprised of Bureau of Operations personnel who are trained in underwater search, rescue and recovery. The Special Operations Dive Team works as a team with other agencies within the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, Division 68 & 45 to respond to water related emergencies throughout the region.

Mass Casualty Incident Response Unit

The Bureau of Operations maintains Franklin County’s Mass Casualty Incident Response Unit. The MCIRU carries medical supplies and can support the triage and treatment of up to 100 victims.

Severe Weather Monitoring, Observation, and Warning

Members of the agency, coordinate missions through the Bureau of Operations to monitor, observe, report, and provide warning for severe weather events that occur in Franklin County. Coordination during these events can branch from Operations units deployed in the field to the National Weather Service, surrounding Counties, municipalities, and local media.

Damage Assessment

Franklin County Emergency Management Agency is charged with the assessment of damages after any major emergency or disaster. Field units from the Bureau of Operations are dispatched to affected areas to observe, detect, capture and report damage assessment data back to the Franklin County Emergency Operations Center. At the conclusion of all damage assessment activities, the Bureau of Operations prepares a consolidated report for State of Illinois, American Red Cross and the National Weather Service.

Supplemental Lighting and Power

The Bureau of Operations maintains a number of large generators and portable lighting units that can be utilized to power and light critical infrastructure and incident scenes.

Bureau of Preparedness

The Bureau of Preparedness is a division of the agency tasked with core missions regarding emergency preapredness, prevention and mitigation. The Bureau Chief of Preparedness leads the Bureau with the assistance of several Preparedness Specialists. The Bureau of Preparedness provides programs designed to enhance preparedness, prevention and mitigation within the County of Franklin by executing the following core functions:

Public Engagement / Presentations

The staff within the Bureau of Preparedness are often the “face of the agency” due to our never ending mission to help our citizens prepare, prevent, and mitigate emergencies. The Bureau offers public presentations, training, and appearances throughout Franklin County for various community groups, non-governmental organizations, governmental organizations, and the general public.

Ready Rex Program

The Ready Rex Program was developed by the Bureau of Preparedness after a challenge was issued to staff members by Director Ryan M. Buckingham. The challenge was simple; create a program to engage children about emergency preparedness, prevention and mitigation. Along came, Ready Rex. Ready Rex not only interests local children, but adults, teens, and basically everyone he has met. Everyone seems to love to hang out and snap a picture with Rex while doing his signature move the “two thumbs up” for preparedness. Ready Rex is one of the last surviving Dinosaurs in Franklin County. We THINK he may be the last one…. but you never know. Some people think Rex is a T-Rex, but actually he is a Preparasaurus. When we discovered Ready Rex in a remote location down in the bottoms of Franklin County we asked him “How did you survive”? His answer was simple: “I had my emergency plan, my preparedness kit, and KNEW what to do in an emergency”. To request a visit from Ready Rex e-mail us at fcema@franklincountyil.gov

lepc logo

Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC)

Franklin County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) is comprised of dedicated individuals from the community that have a true passion for emergency preparedness. The mission of the Franklin County LEPC is to involve the public in a whole community planning effort to prepare for hazardous chemical emergencies. Planning efforts include mitigation, preparedness, commodity flow risk assessment, assessment of local response capabilities and hazardous chemical storage identification.

Franklin County LEPC promotes the community’s right to know about hazardous materials by:

  • Collecting and managing chemical storage data
  • Ensuring chemical storage data is available to area residence
  • Indirectly regulating facilities that store hazardous chemicals by ensuring reporting compliance

Members of the Franklin County LEPC ensure a whole community planning effort for hazardous chemical emergencies by providing input and assisting the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency in the development of the Franklin County Emergency Operations Plan (Emergency Support Function #10 – Oil & Hazardous Materials).

Visit the following links to learn more about the functions of the Local Emergency Planning Committee:

To request to join the LEPC or to learn more about the hazardous chemicals stored in your area please contact us at the information below:

Franklin County Local Emergency Planning Committee
C/O – LEPC Public Information Officer
401 E. Park Street
Benton, Illinois 62812

Office: 618-439-4362
Fax: 618-439-4363
fcema@franklincountyil.gov

Join Our Team: Career Building Opportunities

You can make a difference in your community by starting your career in emergency management. Franklin County Emergency Management Agency is currently seeking applications for emergency management personnel. You will have the opportunity to train and learn to be an emergency manager, assist in the development of emergency plans, interact and help prepare your friends and neighbors for emergencies at local events, and assist Franklin County in the preparedness, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery of emergency events. If your ready for this new and exciting challenge in your life then return your application today!

Current Openings:

Operations Specialist – Volunteer (Training & Education Benefits Only)
Communications Specialist – Volunteer (Training & Education Benefits Only)
Emergency Preparedness Specialist – Volunteer (Training & Education Benefits Only)

Application

Application Procedure

Download and complete a standard application for employment for Franklin County Government. You can submit your application to the address below. All applicants must meet the minimum appointment criteria established in the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency’s Policy & Standard Operational Procedure Manual. Applications can also be requested via the e-mail address listed below.

Return your application to

Franklin County Emergency Management Agency·
Emergency Management Headquarters
401 E. Park Street
Benton, Illinois 62812

(618) 439-4EMA

FCEMA@franklincountyil.gov

Franklin County Emergency Management Agency is dedicated to the concept of equal opportunity. The agency will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, or marital status, or against any qualified individual with disabilities, in its employment practices, and the treatment of employees. Recognizing that sexual harassment constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex and violates this rule, the agency will not tolerate such conduct. Should you experience such behavior, please contact Director Ryan M. Buckingham, at (618) 439-4EMA; or by mail at 401 E. Park Street, Benton, IL 62812-1300; or by e-mail at ryan.buckingham@franklincountyil.gov.

abbott ems parked infront of a medical helicopter on a sunny day

Ambulance Service

Franklin County Emergency Management Agency is charged by County Ordinance to oversee and manage Franklin County’s interests as it relates to Emergency Medical Service (EMS). The Director of Emergency Management or his or her designee will oversee and manage Franklin County’s efforts to provide emergency medical services to the public. The Director will liaison with and oversee all authorized county-level EMS transportation providers to ensure adequate services are being provided in accordance with Franklin County’s established operational standards and requirements for county-level EMS transportation providers. The Franklin County Board, through their established processes will authorize county-level EMS transportation providers at their discretion.

In 2012, the Franklin County Board signed an exclusive agreement with Mission Care of Illinois (American Medical Response – Abbott EMS) to provide emergency medical service and transportation to the citizens of Franklin County excluding Denning and Frankfort Township which is serviced by the West Frankfort Fire Department.

Click on the documents below to review all documents concerning the Franklin County agreement and supporting documentation.

Any comments, questions, or concerns regarding EMS service in Franklin County should be directed to Ryan M. Buckingham, Director of Emergency Management at ryan.buckingham@franklincountyil.gov or by phone at (618) 439-4362.

Ordinance 2012-01 - Ordinance Related to Ambulance ServiceExhibit A - Abbott EMS Response to Request for ProposalAgreement with Mission Car of Illinois (Abbott EMS) - 2017Abbott EMS Agreement with Franklin County Coroner

Hazard Mitigation Program

Franklin County adopted thier first FEMA approved Franklin County Multi-Jurisdictional All Hazards Mitigation Plan in 2008. The plan was valid for a five year period. In 2014, under the leadership of Director of Emergency Management Ryan M. Buckingham, a whole community planning team and contractors from SIU worked diligently with area municipalities and other partnering agencies to formulate an update to the plan to address natural hazards that endanger lives and property of the citizens and visitors of Franklin County.

On April 18th, 2017, the Franklin County Board gave formal approval to the updated Franklin County Multi-Jurisdictional All Hazards Mitigation Plan.

On April 28th, 2017 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gave approval to the plan update. This means that Franklin County is now eligible to receive funds through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). During the HMP process, jurisdictions throughout Franklin County identified mitigation projects they would like to undertake in order to minimize the impact of natural hazards. Participating communities, upon adoption of the plan by their governing bodies, will be able to apply for HMGP funds to help finance projects that reduce the County’s vulnerability to natural hazards while protecting the health, safety, welfare and economy of communities by identifying cost-effective strategies to reduce their impact.

Grand Projects Funded Under HMGP for Franklin County (To Date)

Rend Lake Water Bypass Project (Earthquake Mitigation) – $1,800,00.00 – Media Release

West Frankfort Sewer Plant Relocation (Flood Mitigation) – $6,415,688.00 – Media Release

Franklin County Hazard Mitigation PlanFranklin County Resolution to Adopt HM PlanFEMA Approval for HM Plan

Media Releases

Media Release - Hazard Mitigation Planning Grant
drone footage of a drain derailment with workers and equipment surrounding the scene and cleaning up the toxic waste

Unmanned Aircraft Program

In 2015, Franklin County Emergency Management took to the skies by launching an Unmanned Aerial Program. A difficult search for a missing person reinforced feelings by Agency leadership and local officials that the need for aerial intelligence was imperative for some missions conducted by public safety agencies. Utilizing funding from the Franklin County Safety Committee as a match for an United States Department of Agriculture vehicle grant, the Agency was able to purchase our first unmanned remote-controlled aircraft. The aircraft would be assigned to the new vehicle as part of a rapid response command package, allowing Agency leaders to quickly get to an emergency scene and begin gathering intelligence and mitigating the incident. The program, developed by Deputy Director Gary Little, made the Agency the ONLY local public safety entity south of I-64 to have an unmanned aerial program at the time.

In its infancy, the program faced struggle as we determined that launching such a resource was not as simple as buying an RC quadcopter and putting in the air over an incident scene. Unmanned aerial systems were new to the public safety world and were strictly regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. There was not an abundance of information about how to properly obtain the permissions needed to legally fly our aircraft. Contact with the FAA regarding our program was made, and after several weeks of applications and waivers, the FAA granted Franklin County Emergency Management Agency with a Certificate of Authorization of Waiver (COA) under Part 333, allowing us to operate our unmanned aerial vehicle in the National Airspace with only minor restrictions. The COA gave agency leadership the ability to create our own training program, specific to our needs and capabilities, ensuring that our pilots were trained appropriately for the missions they would be flying.

The next hurdle for the program came when it was determined that the County’s blanket liability insurance would only cover part of the necessary liabilities of operating an unmanned aircraft. Agency leadership spent months working directly with Bliss McKnight, the County’s primary insurance provider, to explain what we would be utilizing the unmanned aircraft system for. A policy document was created by Agency leaders and reviewed in its entirety by underwriters for the insurance company. The proactive stance from Agency leadership to ensure that civil liabilities were protected and the UAS was operated as safely as possible led to a successful agreement with the insurance company. We were later told by Bliss McKnight that the extent of care and consideration in the Agency’s policy manual led to an unprecedented unlimited civil liability coverage package. By the end of 2016, we were fully operational, but had flown only four public safety missions.

In 2018, the program suffered a setback when the Agency’s UAS became damaged during a mission.  While obtaining photographs for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office for reconstruction and investigation of a fatal motorcycle crash, the aircraft experienced a battery failure and fell from an altitude of approximately 350 feet.  No one was injured in the incident, and no additional property damage occurred, but the aircraft suffered significant damage and was deemed a total loss by the Agency.  The good news…the Agency had just purchased and taken delivery of its’ second unmanned aerial system utilizing funding from the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Grant Program.  The new aircraft, a DJI Matrice 200, is equipped with a thermal imaging system that allows operators to see heat signatures from several hundred feet away.  This feature further increased the capabilities of the program, allowing the aircraft to operate at night with a higher level of safety and confidence.  The system also allows operators to safely hover above incident scenes, or search large areas, and broadcast the images obtained by the aircraft back to the command post for multiple responders to view.

As 2019 came to a close, the Agency’s Unmanned Aerial Program was continuing to grow and improve.  The Agency again increased capabilities by purchasing additional batteries and a mobile charging station for the UAS.  This purchase allows operators to more rapidly and efficiently charge the aircraft and controller batteries while flying missions, allowing for nearly around the clock operation if necessary.  An additional remote controller was also purchased, allowing the co-pilot or another responder to view and manipulate the aircrafts camera while the pilot focuses on flying the aircraft.  Both of these purchases were made using grant funding.  We now have multiple trained pilots and are working to train additional staff members to operate the UAS.  FCEMA has assisted several other entities kick start UAS programs in the past 4 years, including Cook County Department of Emergency Management & Regional Security and the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.  By providing administrative and technical advice, we hope to ensure that other jurisdictions can have programs that are as successful as ours has been.   Today,  Agency staff stand ready to provide immediate support to emergency personnel responding to incidents such as: building fires, wild fires, searches for missing/fleeing persons, hazardous materials incidents, natural or manmade disasters, search/arrest warrant execution, law enforcement investigations, and any other incident that may require aerial intelligence.