Iowa legislators learn about first responders at Iowa Emergency Management Association District 3′s ‘Field Day’

Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 5:54 PM CDT
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CHEROKEE, Iowa. (KTIV) - September is National Preparedness Month, and each year around this time Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will sign an appreciation proclamation thanking Iowa first responders for their hard work.

On Thursday, she was right here in Siouxland doing just that.

Whenever there’s an emergency, like a severe storm, flooding, a large fire or even the COVID-19 Pandemic, emergency medical services are there to help.

“We’re kind of the bridge between local government and state government,” said Eric Tigges, Clay County Emergency Manager. “And even local government and the federal government when it comes to federal disasters, things like that.”

But not everyone knows what goes on behind the scenes to help them stay prepared, particularly when it comes to their training and the technology they use every day.

“These resources, they all take funding, they take money, they take preparation, they take maintenance, all those types of things,” said Tigges. “And so, it’s important for us to just kind of share what we do, and that while these resources are available, it takes continued support to maintain them.”

This can be particularly tough for emergency managers in Iowa’s rural counties, where response teams often feature just one person.

“So, for example, we rely on the others,” said Rebecca Socknat, Plymouth County Emergency Manager. “I may not have this piece of equipment, but another county might. So, that emergency manager can help.”

To help increase this awareness, District 3 of the Iowa Emergency Management Association, which includes 16 counties in Northwest Iowa, held a ‘Field Day’ on Thursday to showcase what they do to local and state legislators, including Gov. Reynolds, who has long been a supporter of emergency services.

“I’ve had opportunities to see firsthand the great work that they do,” said Reynolds. “Since I’ve been governor, we’ve experienced flooding, we’ve experienced a derecho. To talk about what Cherokee did during COVID, where they set up a node that really allowed us to bring all the PPE here and then distribute to the counties was really-- it saved time, it saved money, it saved resources and really was much more efficient.”

The field day included presentations on preparedness, training and funding, as well as showing off technology such as trailers, light towers, generators and drones.

“Sometimes, I think we need to just step back and make sure that everybody really sees what’s happening behind the scenes to provide the response and the services that we see from our emergency managers.”

This was the first year Governor Reynolds signed her appreciation proclamation in Siouxland. After that, attendees were treated to a free meal provided by the Salvation Army, who frequently works with EMS to provide food and shelter to disaster victims.