LYONS — Wayne County has become one of only 10 statewide to achieve state accreditation for its emergency management services.

The accreditation was announced this past week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Erie County also received the accreditation as part of the Local Emergency Management Accreditation Program, which Cuomo said is the first state-level program for local emergency management agencies in the nation.

Wayne and Erie join the emergency management offices of New York City and Albany, Broome, Livingston, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida and Saratoga counties as stated-accredited organizations.

“Public safety is our number one priority and it’s critical that we have strong emergency management services at the county level who can partner with the state during challenging situations,” Cuomo stated in a press release. “This first-of-its-kind accreditation program will help ensure local emergency management offices can respond to any disaster and protect their residents.”

George Bastedo, who directs Wayne’s Emergency Management Office, said that “through the efforts of the entire Wayne County emergency management team, we are proud to be the ninth county in New York State to become a state-accredited emergency management office. Accreditation demonstrates our continued commitment to all aspects of emergency management to the citizens and stakeholders in Wayne County. The process of becoming accredited has definitely made us a stronger organization.”

Added County Administrator Rick House: “We are extremely proud of Director Bastedo and his staff for all the work they did to achieve this accreditation. There were countless hours of time invested to ensure that all accreditations standards were met. It speaks volumes of Wayne County’s commitment to the safety of all their citizens and visitors.”

Cuomo’s office said “the Wayne County Emergency Management Office coordinates emergency mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery services to the residents of Wayne County with the appropriate Wayne County agencies and external partners. This typically occurs in the county’s Emergency Operations Center and efforts are guided by the Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, which is reviewed annually. Through outreach, the Emergency Management Office encourages residents to become more resilient to ensure they are prepared for emergencies. The Emergency Management Office also manages the public alert and warning systems for Wayne County, namely Wayne County Alerts to ensure residents are informed during an emergency.”

According to Cuomo, the state accreditation program, developed in partnership with the state Emergency Management Association, includes a series of standards local emergency management offices must meet to obtain the accreditation. The state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services administers the program on behalf of the Local Emergency Management Accreditation Council, which serves as the governing body for the program, according to Cuomo.

He said the accreditation program is designed to highlight and promote proactive local emergency management agencies in New York State. The accreditation is valid for five years, with an opportunity to obtain reaccreditation after that period.

State Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Patrick Murphy said the accreditation is a big accomplishment.

“When disaster strikes, it’s critical state and local emergency management teams are able to work together to protect New Yorkers, and this accreditation program helps ensure everyone is working under the same basic standards,” said Murphy. “During our evaluation, both Erie and Wayne counties not only did a great job in meeting the standards, but also in demonstrating their level of readiness to respond to any emergency. I congratulate them on this achievement and encourage the rest of New York’s counties to pursue this accreditation as well.”

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