Pike County Times

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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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What Does GEMA Do In a Time of Emergency?

ATLANTA - GEMA, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, is now the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency. Its job, according to the website, is to “work with local, state and federal governments, in partnership with the private sector and faith-based community, to prevent and respond to natural and man-made emergencies.” Its employees are also on call 24 hours a day/7 days a week when disaster strikes in local areas around the state.

Its mission is to protect life and property against disasters both man-made and natural by directing resources to help with prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery. “When disaster strikes and local governments need assistance, they call GEMA/HS. The agency works with local, state, federal, volunteer and private agencies to respond to disasters or emergencies that require a coordinated response.”

Director Chris Stallings spoke to Pike County Times by telephone this week. He walked Pike County Times in an overview of the services that are being provided during this time of COVID pandemic.

He advised that GEMA is serving the Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Department of Community Health (DCH) through a logistics role. “We have the pandemic broken into three sections. One being virus fighting, one being staffing, and then our specialty of wrap around services,” Stallings said.

GEMA provides personal protective equipment (PPE) or help set up a separate site near a hospital for COVID-19 testing sites, tents, additional beds, ventilators for hospitals, and even additional space for morgues if needed. These wrap around services include shipping PPE and helping with specific needs for doctors and hospitals. “We are more supplies than capabilities because obviously we are not a health organization,” he said. “Outside of this, our focus is making sure that we support those that are in those roles but that is certainly not our lead front.”

“We are supporting Georgians, and we are supporting hospitals in any way that we can.”

Stallings advised that the initial response to an emergency is at the local level because those working locally know how to take care of themselves better than anybody else. Locals access their needs and pass those requests to GEMA, and then GEMA provides those individual needs as requests are made.

“Pike County is going to be different than Lamar. It will be different than Upson or Meriwether,” he said. “So, we will respond to those individually as those requests are made.”

To find out more about GEMA, please to go to https://gema.georgia.gov/.