Delaware Official Sent To Kentucky To Help With Tornado Recovery Efforts

On Thursday December 16, 2021, Kentucky Emergency Management sent out an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request for Public Information Officers to assist the Commonwealth of Kentucky during the ongoing response to the tornadoes that devastated Western Kentucky. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact, or EMAC, offers assistance during governor-declared states of emergency or disaster through a responsive, straightforward system that allows states to send personnel, equipment, and commodities to assist with response and recovery efforts in other states. Staff from the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) and other Delaware agencies have previously assisted other states during disasters through EMAC. DEMA staff quickly answered the call and Public Information Officer Jeff Sands flew to Kentucky early the next morning for a 14-day deployment.

DEMA Director AJ Schall said, “Every time we send somebody out they bring back so much knowledge and experience, stuff that would take years to learn here,” said Schall. “What can we do to make our plan just that much better? The experience is really the dividend that it gives the state as well as the feeling that we’re able to help others out in their time of need.”

With any major incident involving thousands of personnel from local, state, and federal agencies, coordination is key. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) provide a flexible and scalable structure for how incidents of all sizes are operated. From a house fire in Delaware to the largest wildfires in California, NIMS and ICS help to ensure consistent organization and response. In the case of the Western Kentucky Tornado response, local and state resources are being supported by EMAC teams from 8 states, as well as numerous federal resources such as FEMA, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and dozens of other agencies. The goal is to provide the greatest possible assistance from all levels of government to the survivors whose lives have been changed forever.

Arriving at the State Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort, Kentucky on Friday, Jeff joined PIOs from Nebraska, Ohio, and Virginia to support the Kentucky PIOs already hard at work in the State’s Joint Information Center (JIC). A Joint Information Center (JIC) is a physical location where PIOs from agencies involved in a response can coordinate and share consistent information with the public. Responsibilities of the JIC can include providing information to the public about available resources, managing social media accounts, writing press releases, building websites, creating infographics, writing talking points for press conferences, answering media inquiries, rumor control, and more. In the information age, the challenges are endless said Sands.

The devastation from the tornadoes is staggering: A Major Disaster Declaration has been approved for the Commonwealth, 14 counties have disaster declarations, the death toll is currently 76, with unbelievable damages across a wide area. It is truly heartbreaking to see this destruction especially around the holidays and our hearts break for the people of Kentucky. The rest of the deployment will include continued work in the JIC, site visits to affected areas, opportunities to talk directly with survivors and first responders, and ongoing efforts to connect the survivors with resources. Sands said skills and lessons learned during the last few years in Delaware have been incredibly beneficial and the takeaways will no doubt help the State of Delaware to become better prepared to prepare for and respond to similar disasters.

Sands said, “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to lend a hand in Kentucky especially during the holidays. It is truly a team effort and I appreciate the support from the team at DEMA to make it happen. But this isn’t about me, this is about the people whose lives have been forever changed by this historic storm. Please keep them in your prayers this holiday season.”

Donations for the relief efforts go to and to learn more about the storm or offer other assistance go to

In addition to working as the Public Information Officer for the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), Jeff Sands is a Deputy Chief with Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company in Newark, Delaware.

Source: DEMA