Regional emergency managers work together during pandemic

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Posted at 5:57 AM, Feb 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-25 06:57:10-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If it can go wrong, Kyle Burns has probably already thought of it.

“I have to think about all the bad things that can happen within the city of Overland Park and how we’re going to plan for those, how are we going to react to those,” explained the emergency management coordinator for the city of Overland Park, Kansas.

Burns also heads the Metropolitan Emergency Managers Committee.

The MEMC is made up of his colleagues in municipalities across nine counties surrounding Kansas City: Cass, Clay, Jackson, Platte and Ray counties in Missouri, and Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami and Wyandotte counties in Kansas.

“One of the key factors in a successful emergency management operation is collaboration,” Burns explained.

So when the COVID-19 public health disaster hit last year, MEMC jumped into action.

Burns said the team has helped coordinate mass vaccination sites with private businesses like Cerner. It secured dry ice to have in case a freezer broke (Pfizer vaccines have to be stored at extremely cold temperatures). The group helped school districts with plans to return to classrooms and connected hospitals so everyone was on the same page.

“It’s amazing to see everyone come together in a time of need when the Kansas City metro is facing such hardships,” Burns noted.

Along the way, MEMC and the Mid-America Regional Council have updated a website to push accurate, up-to-date information to the public.

Burns said it’s important everyone across the region understand how to best handle this disaster.