89.1 WEMU

In The Public Interest: Meet The Director Of Washtenaw County Emergency Services

Jan 27, 2020

Washtenaw County Emergency Services director Dave Halteman
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

This week on “In The Public Interest,” our bi-weekly conversation with the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area, WEMU’s Lisa Barry continues the “Get to Know Your County Government” series talking to Dave Halteman, director of Washtenaw County Emergency Services, who says they take an “all hazards approach” to emergencies in the county.


Washtenaw County Emergency Services director Dave Halteman and WEMU's Lisa Barry
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

What is included in Emergency Services?

  • Emergency Management,
  • Homeland Security,
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Washtenaw Metro Dispatch - coordinates County overall 9-1-1 system and also Sheriff’s Dept Information Network
  • Multiple collaborative programs including 800 MHz Radio Consortium (ham radio operators)

What do you consider the three primary hazards in Washtenaw County?

  • Weather
  • Hazardous materials transport
  • Hazardous materials at site
  • For planning and training they take an all hazards approach because the response is similar for any, with a focus on communications

What are some of the communications networks you work with?

  • Nixle – to be expanded.  (the first authenticated and secure service which allows government agencies to communicate with citizens in real time).
  • 911 – now is county-wide.  Next generation service to be rolled out soon, e.g., text to 911,  video to 911.  Road accidents are a major reason for calls.  Daily call volume is over 1200 calls per day.
  • Police dispatch for over 92% of county population plus the 70,000 plus commuters who come into the county daily. 
  • Skywarn spotter program – citizen weather monitoring.  There will be three classes this spring for people wanting to be spotters.
  • Sirens – these are for more than weather.   e.g., could be a hazardous materials event.   If you hear a siren, you should go indoors and find further information.
  • National Emergency Alert System (EAS), links all radio and television stations, cable television providers, and Emergency Operations Centers in a given operational area (Washtenaw and Lenawee Counties, in our case) along with the National Weather Service, state and federal emergency services agencies.

Washtenaw County's Emergency Alert System stations are WEMU at 89.1 FM and WWWW at 102.9.

  • Amateur radio (ham radio) –operator groups providing communications services.

Implementation and management of Homeland Security projects

  • Grant money for special teams

How can area residents prepare for emergencies?

See the Community Emergency Preparedness Workbook and Guidelines, a booklet provided by the Washtenaw County Homeland Security Task Force.  

Tell us about the Emergency Operations Center

  • Emergency Operations Center activation readiness and survivability.
  • Large-scale emergency preparedness, planning, training, response and recovery services.  Pre-disaster public awareness campaigns for severe weather and technological accidents.
  • Hazardous environmental incident planning, investigation and enforcement.

League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area Logo
Credit League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area / lvwannarbor.org

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu