Eastern Kentucky University online homeland security student, David Hodnett, interned with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Emergency Management Office (CMEMO) during the 2022-23 school year.
Typically, thoughts and images of flooding, mud slides, hurricanes, and wildfires come to mind when thinking of emergency management. While emergency managers play a large part in leading the response and recovery effort in these incidents, Hodnett spent his time helping with the lesser seen planning and mitigation efforts that go into making every community safe. During his internship he learned how emergency managers live, work and save lives.
Most county emergency management offices are subsets of county government. The director of the agency reports directly to the county manager. CMEMO is unique because emergency management for the county is a function of the large city fire department within the county. While this is a unique set up for the county, it offers many advantages for both the city and county.
The largest advantage Hodnett saw was the city’s large investment in the safety and security of the county. At the request of CMEMO, the city fire department can quickly send resources and personnel to assist the county and state when needed without going through extra political channels others face.
Valuable Planning Experience
During his time with CMEMO, Hodnett focused on updating all shelter sites within the county, as well as a full safety and security site review of the Carolina Panthers Stadiums.
Every two years emergency management agencies try to update and inspect all shelter sites as part of their continuity of operations plan. The sites are evaluated for long- and short-term sheltering. Sites are also evaluated as family reunification sites and point of distribution sites for supplies.
During covid, the United States military identified 50 extra sites that could be used. Emergency sites in the event that covid numbers were above hospital capacity and mass quarantine was needed. These sites were not part of the alternating shelter audit schedule and the entire system needed to be updated.
Hodnett collaborated with the local red cross to inspect all 96 pre-identified emergency management shelter sites within Mecklenburg County. Hodnett and the team visited each site, evaluated usability, and formed agreements for use with more than 75% of them. It was a large undertaking to ensure all parts of the county had close, reliable sheltering services in the event of future disasters.
NFL Stadium Security
Another initiative Hodnett was involved in was reviewing an NFL football stadium. At the request of the Carolina Panthers Security team, the CMEMO and Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department evaluated the stadium and its staff for overall security and emergency management operational resilience. The stadium was measured using an all-hazards scale focusing on health, fire, chemical/biological, radiological, and overall security scale. Additionally, the stadiums’ ability to shelter in place or mass evacuate was evaluated.
Finally, Hodnett had the opportunity to complete several training courses including the initial federal incident management training while interning with the agency.
Hodnett was grateful for the learning opportunity his internship provided. “Overall, this was a great agency to work with and a wonderful experience. I feel I will be able to draw on this experience in my future career. I will be reaching out to the individuals in this office for guidance in the future if needed,” said Hodnett.
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