The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) prepares for, responds to, recovers from and mitigates against disasters and emergencies. The department maintains the State Emergency Operations Center which serves as a command center for reporting emergencies and coordinating state response activities. OEM delivers service to Oklahoma cities, towns and counties through the network of more than 400 local emergency managers.
OEM also maintains, regularly updates and exercises the State Emergency Operations Plan. The department provides funding and/or assistance to more than 400 local emergency management departments throughout the state.
Community Preparedness: For more effective response to a disaster, OEM helps plan, promote and conduct local, state and federal exercises to test response capability. The department also offers numerous training courses throughout the year.
Emergency Response: During emergencies, OEM coordinates state emergency operations including:
- Monitoring potentially severe events
- Evaluating the possibility for securing state, federal disaster assistance
- Managing state and local resources
- Providing emergency public information
- Developing and distributing situation reports
- Conducting preliminary damage assessments
Disaster Recovery: Following a state or federal emergency or disaster declaration, OEM is responsible for providing quick and efficient delivery of state and federal aid to those affected by the event. This includes coordinating the efforts of federal, state, local, volunteer and private organizations to provide relief and establish disaster recovery centers. The agency conducts public information, administers individual and public assistance programs as well as disaster mitigation projects.
Hazard Mitigation: The mitigation program is available to local communities across the state to assist them with identifying and implementing long-term hazard mitigation measures before, during and after major disaster declarations. Communities are encouraged to work with the state mitigation officer to develop an ongoing program to identify hazards and decide the best way to reduce or eliminate them.
Before Disaster Strikes, OEM:
- Writes and updates comprehensive emergency plans.
- Offers assistance to governments and private industry in developing emergency plans and conducts emergency exercises to test those plans.
- Provides training opportunities to emergency management professionals, first responders and others.
- Promotes and advocates emergency preparedness and awareness.
- Works to improve technology and communications capabilities.
When Disaster Strikes, OEM:
- Coordinates a fast, efficient and effective response by all state departments and agencies.
- Supports and assists the response efforts of more than 400 local governments.
- Facilitates and coordinates state resources such as generators and water to provide necessary assistance.
- Provides timely and accurate information to the public through the media and local emergency management.
- Works with appropriate federal departments and agencies to obtain needed resources.
After Disaster Strikes, OEM:
- Supports and assists local governments with their recovery efforts.
- Develops public information messages to advise the public to report damage and file for assistance.
- Coordinates the implementation of federal assistance in a presidentially declared disaster.
- Creates or assists with mitigation projects to lessen the effects of future disasters such as drainage projects, Safe Room rebate programs, NOAA weather radios and reverse 911 systems.
History of the Department
OEM was created as the Department of Civil Defense by legislative action in 1951. Soon after its creation, the Civil Defense agency and the Department of Emergency Resources Management were combined into one unified disaster aid organization. Today, the department serves as the state's liaison with federal and local agencies on emergencies of all kinds. The department is located on the State Capitol Complex.
Table of Organization
The OEM director reports directly to the Governor. The department is structured to reflect the four phases of emergency management (Preparedness, Response, Recovery and Mitigation) and allow delivery of services through local emergency managers.
Director - Albert Ashwood
Deputy Director - Michelann Ooten
Executive Assistant - Joyce Stribling
Chief Financial Officer - Sandra Jackson
Preparedness/Response Manager - Steve Palladino
Recovery/Mitigation Deputy Manager - Alden Graybill
EOC Manager - Putnam Reiter
Grants Program Manager - Bonnie McKelvey
Public Information Officer - Keli Cain
Individual Assistance Officer - Dara Hays
State Hazard Mitigation Officer - Annie Vest