A message from Gary Spraggins, Response Subcommittee Chair:
PUBLIC WORKS IS A FIRST RESPONDER - The term 'first responder' refers to those individuals who in the early stages of an incident are responsible for the protection and preservation of life, property, evidence, and the environment, including emergency response providers as defined in section 2 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 101), as well as emergency management, public health, clinical care, public works, and other skilled support personnel (such as heavy equipment operators) that provide immediate support services during prevention, response, and recovery operations.
Public Works is usually one of the first-in following a catastrophic incident and the last to leave.  Articles have been written to address the importance of recognizing Public Works as a first responder.  We need to partner with Fire and Law Enforcement and get a “seat at the table” during discussions on how to prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate issues related to emergency incidents.
One may ask “What Can Public Works Offer”?  We offer heavy equipment and skilled operators, we have building plans, and can offer assistance with crowd control and traffic control.  Public Works manages water and wastewater for communities and can shut off utilities where needed to eliminate an emergency situation.  We have skilled engineers and technical specialists that bring a wealth of knowledge to any situation.  These are only a few of the services we have to offer.
As Chairman of the APWA Response Subcommittee, I ask that each of us convey these thoughts to local officials and stress the importance and role Public Works can offer for any emergency incident.  We need a “seat at the table” early on to prepare for and plan for emergency incidents.  I’m a firm believer that WE ARE first responders.
No we don’t have badges or uniforms; however, we are a highly skilled team that can support and respond to any situation!
Gary W. Spraggins, FPEM
Sarasota County Transportation/Buchan Airport Manager
Operational Manager