Business Preparedness in Annapolis
In a 7.2 square mile area along the Chesapeake Bay and Severn River, the City of Annapolis houses the State Capitol, seat of Anne Arundel County government, and the prestigious United States Naval Academy. The 38,000 residents and 1,000,000 visitors per year enjoy the City’s small businesses and old town environment, but what they do not see are the diligent efforts made by the City’s officials to maintain high levels of operational readiness and multi-agency coordination to ensure their safety while they enjoy their day-to-day activities.
The Mayor’s Public Safety Initiative for Businesses recognizes the importance of the informed community leader concerning a range of potential disruptions from small incidents such as City vagrancy to large incidents like a bomb threat or active shooter situation. To this end, the Annapolis business community was given a survey, by the City, to determine the largest concerns for residents and leaders. A two hour forum was held in the City’s Emergency Operations Center and provided a platform to answer questions, educate business leaders on emergency protocols, and remind the everyday Annapolitan that the City’s resources and officials work hard each day to safeguard and protect them and their property. Presentations were made by the Annapolis Police Department and a few members of the Special Operations team, the Annapolis Fire Department and Bomb Squad, and the Office of Emergency Management. The City’s Police Chief, Fire Chief, and Director of Emergency Management gave a collaborative presentation on Civil Unrest, which has been an important concern following the incidents in Baltimore in April of 2015.
The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) continues to work on this Initiative by providing face to face interaction with business leaders and working in a consultation capacity to complete personalized Emergency Action Plans. During the holidays, staff members worked on teams with the City of Annapolis Fire Marshal’s Office to visit 400 local businesses and provide tips for having a safe holiday season and show them the resources they can use to stay informed and prepared throughout the year. One of these resources is utilizing OEM to assist in the creation of business specific Emergency Action Plans to ensure both leaders, and their employees, are as prepared as possible using an all-hazards approach. There are currently three businesses working to complete such plans, with one being in its final stages of revisions.
Officials and staff members from each City Department continue to collaborate to address common concerns, and show business owners how each of them work together to accomplish goals and occasionally achieve what some would believe to be impossible. This Initiative is only the beginning in bridging the gap between citizen and government in Annapolis, and will hopefully continue to increase awareness of an all hazards approach to City-wide preparedness.
Through her role as an Emergency Planner at the Annapolis Office of Emergency Management, Williams supports the Public Safety Initiative for Businesses through organization of forums, participation in business outreach tours, and the development of Emergency Action Plans for local businesses.