Page 21 - Georgia Forestry - Issue 3 - Summer 2020
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   How the agency known for sustaining forests has responded to the challenges of a global pandemic
When it became clear that Georgia was not immune to the COVID-19 pandemic, we made a conscious decision to be proactive in adjusting our operations in response. We implemented a teleworking protocol immediately, in an attempt to protect our employees, their families and their communities. At the same time, we retained a keen focus on our mission of service to Georgia and her forest landowners. Additionally, we assumed our
role of advanced logistical support to the state in times of crisis. This time, it was not clearing hurricane devastation, but rather staffing a Public Health distribution facility near Atlanta. This work continues at the time of this writing.
As this issue goes to press, state government has been tasked with finding historic budget savings by Governor Brian Kemp. I’m proud of how the GFC team is responding to this challenge; the mountain is tall, but we’ve already started our climb. We ask for your continued support and prayers as our state and our agency faces these unprecedented challenges.
— Chuck Williams, Director, Georgia Forestry Commission
   Emergency Response
When emergencies such as hurricanes, tornadoes and pandemics strike Georgia, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) calls on special teams from the Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) to support statewide response operations. Chain-saw strike teams attack downed trees to clear vital thoroughfares following hurricanes and tornadoes. Others manage logistics for multiple agencies responding to those same weather events—or other emergencies, such as the fight against a pandemic.
The GFC is known as the go-to agency for hit-the-ground-running incident response, because of its employees who
have extensive experience on “Incident Management Teams” (IMT). The teams function under the Incident Command System (ICS), which was developed to unify resources from different agencies under a common command structure. ICS is used in every manner of emer- gency, facilitating coordination between all responders, including all levels of government, with public, private and non-governmental organizations.
On March 10, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) activated Georgia’s COVID-19 response by establishing a central warehouse to receive and distribute critical equipment to public healthcare
    GFC transported medical supplies to distribution points throughout the state. | 19

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