As winter is here, many residents can remember the ice storm this past January that wiped out power throughout the area.

Then in March, wildfires swept through southwest Kansas costing local farmers, ranchers and homeowners millions.

As 2018 gets closer, the City of Dodge City, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Victory Electric, Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce, Dodge City Community College, Dodge City Public Library and Western Plains Medical Complex came together to begin the foundation for emergency management and disaster relief when it strikes.

"We will all be working collectively and with the media as a group, to share information to all of our residents and employees," city public information officer Jane Longmeyer said.

Abbey Martin, who will be taking over for Longmeyer in December, said social media is a major part in sharing information.

"We use social media and we also send out our community newsletter to get word out in the community on things that have taken place or will take place in the future.

"We want to be as transparent as possible and revamp information for the city.

"We as a collective group plan to meet in the future with emergency management response as the focus.

"The meeting should be around the end of this year, if not by the first of next year."

Martin, who grew up in Stanton County, graduated in 2016 from Oklahoma State University before coming to Dodge City.

"My mom lives in town so that is how I was able to find the position available," she said.

Longmeyer's final day will be Dec. 29.

For Victory Electric, marketing manager Jerri Imgarten echoed the social media response by Martin.

"Social media is huge for us, especially with small power outages," Imgarten said. "It gives a chance to do constant updates as things are happening to keep people informed.

"I can say we will probably never have an exact time of when power is to be restored during an outage.

"When we have crews out in the field working we really can't say exactly when power can be restored."

Aside from outages and disasters, Imgarten said that Victory Electric also provides tips and assistance when it comes to lowering gas and electric bills during the summer and winter months.

"People can contact us and we can give them any information and tips," she said. "For example, when running your air conditioning, if you turn it off then back on when it gets hot, it will take twice as long to cool your home.

"So instead, change the temperature rather than turning the air conditioning on and off."

Imgarten also said that any graphics and infographics that are posted on the Victory Electric Facebook page are available to be used by the public.

"It is there for them," she said.

With the Chamber of Commerce and CVB, both groups use their contacts and social media followers to spread any information that is needed for the public.

"We pool information from everyone and help spread the information to Facebook and our webpage," said chamber marketing director Maria Kane. "Now if a business is damaged in say a tornado, we would step in to do what is best for that business to get back to being built and help that business as much as we can."

The CVB would use its reach to get information to the surrounding region through its contacts.

"We are a liaison for the attractions in town that try to bring people from out of town, into town," said CVB tourism coordinator Jenay Wallace, "so with our out of town reach we are able to spread information to other areas in southwest Kansas.

"We have a partnership with Wild West Country that gives us that reach to communities and counties in case of a need or emergency."

When it comes to preparation, the library is a great source for information, according to DCPL acquisitions coordinator Phil Handsaker.

"We have plenty of material for survival, water issues, medical issues," he said, "we are the hub for all the information."

For WPMC, according to marketing director Danielle Stroud, the hospital does disaster drills such as fire, tornado and crisis, on a consistent basis.

"Literally any kind of emergency drill is done," she said. "We do have a crisis team in place with an administrator on-call that is in contact with senior leadership and the media in the event of an emergency situation."

For DCCC, the Student Activity Center is the Federal Emergency Management Agency emergency shelter.

The facility has been used on at least three occasions since it opened a year ago.

"We get it ready and as soon as FEMA comes in, they take over," DCCC marketing director Andrea Loll said.

All of the groups involved will begin taking FEMA and Emergency Management Institute courses for the National Incident Management System.

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