Brown County Judge Paul Lilly recently introduced a new chaplaincy program called the Brown County Emergency Management Chaplain Services.
The chaplains with the program are Emmanuel Jimenez, pastor of Cross Community Church; Tim Skaggs, pastor of Coggin Avenue Baptist Church; veteran law enforcement chaplain Dave Fair; and Victory Life Church pastoral staff member Rick Phelps.
Phelps noted he’d heard Skaggs say it’s hoped the chaplains are never needed.
Fair explained the new chaplain program.
“Judge Lilly and Chief (David) Creed, who is head of emergency management, came up with the idea of establishing an emergency management chaplain services,” Fair said. “What makes this different from a police chaplain or a fire chaplain or an EMS chaplain is that we are part of the emergency management and we answer to Chief Creed.
“One of the things that’s important is that in a disaster, you will have chaplains from out of state trying to show up here. You have people (who) will self-deploy into a disaster area and if they have not been vetted and cleared, they many times can do further harm.”
One of the emergency management chaplain’s jobs will be to check the incoming chaplains’ credentials and make sure they’re qualified to be in the disaster area, Fair said.
“We will, working with the emergency management staff in the field and with Chief Creed, determine where chaplains are needed,” Fair said. “Is there going to be a family center? We will deploy people to a family center. Do we have somebody on the front lines who is able to do psychological first aid for the first responders, just kind of help them wind down a little bit and kind of take the edge off?”
The emergency management chaplains will have other responsibilities, Fair said. “If Chief Creed wants us at the scene of a local disaster, he may say ‘you all come over here,’” to scenes of events including shootings, serious accidents, flooding, suicides, death notifications and barricaded subjects, Fair said.
Fair also said the new chaplaincy program hopes to find a company willing to donate a box ambulance.
In another matter, Lilly’s office announced that Lilly Lilly met recently with local health officials and county representatives to discuss safeguards to follow regarding coronavirus.
The meeting included the Brown County Office of Emergency Management David Creed; Health Administrator of the Brownwood/Brown County (B/BC) Health Department/Lisa Dick; Brownwood Regional Medical Center (BRMC) Director of Emergency Department and Trauma Center/Lexie Feist; the BRMC Employee Health and Infection Control Nurse/Jennifer Jones; the B/BC Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator/Cliff Karnes; the B/BC Strategic National Stockpile Coordinator/Jayme Brock; and, the Brown County Government Affairs Coordinator/Bob Contreras.
The attendees generally reviewed the procedures which they are following with regard to the current threat of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) to include how to identify COVID-19, which procedures to follow if a case were identified and, what actions are to be taken after a
case was identified.
COVID-19 is not new. The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu. The estimated time for development of a vaccine is one year.
All participants stressed the importance good hygiene, hand washing, not coughing on others, covering up your cough or sneeze and, staying home if you’re sick to avoid infecting others.
Brown County has no known cases, but officials are alert and prepared to deal with any eventuality.