The Clayton Fire Department has added an Emergency Management position to its Administrative Division.
The new Emergency Management position is the first of its kind in the county and has long been the dream of Fire Chief Lee Barbee, who has served as Clayton’s fire chief since 1991.
According to Barbee, his years of experience with the Town have given him a deep understanding of Clayton and its needs.
“I want to make sure that Clayton is taken care of in the years to come,” said Barbee. “I know with the continued support of our Town Council, Mayor, and Town Manager we can ensure a safer future for our community.”
Serving as the Town’s first Emergency Management Coordinator is Amy Shearin, who came on board with the fire department in mid-January. Shearin previously served the Town as the Special Events and Marketing Coordinator for the Parks and Recreation Department.
Shearin’s years with the Town and her experience with special events have given her extensive knowledge of the Town’s structure and the role each employee plays in daily operations.
“It takes heart and passion to do this work,” said Barbee. “I can read people, and I read that in Amy. She is aware of our needs, and she understands how we operate.”
As Emergency Management Coordinator, Shearin will be responsible preparing specific plans and procedures for responding to threats such as a natural disaster, active shooter, or other community emergencies.
Shearin’s role in an emergency does not end when a crisis is over. She will also coordinate recovery efforts to help see the Town and community through the aftermath of a disaster. Often this will include applying for local, state, or federal relief aid or reimbursement grants.
“Many people don’t fully understand the hard work that goes in to keeping a community safe,” said Shearin. “It’s definitely a team effort. One person cannot do it all. You have to get the right people to the table.”
According to Barbee, this new position serves as an emergency communication hub between all the Town’s departments and the community. By the end of this year, he hopes to create a permanent Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in the newly acquired home next to the fire station. The EOC will serve as a place for Shearin to host training exercises for staff, so the Town can more efficiently provide an effective and coordinated response during an emergency.
“With the increase in efficiency, we can expect to see an increase in the quality of customer service we are able to provide to the public,” said Barbee.
Another major portion of Shearin’s job is facilitating the special events process for the Town. By filtering the public application process through Emergency Management, Shearin is able make sure all events run safely and smoothly. She is also able to help applicants navigate the process, especially for larger events.
Barbee added that there will be requests for special events that the Town will not be able to initially accommodate because of capacity concerns or other restrictions. However, Emergency Management is committed to finding a way to still help those types of requests to be permitted.
“We owe it the public to figure out how we can make their events happen,” said Barbee. “We can build a better program to look after our community.”