This year Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) received two awards for social media campaigns in two emergency situations at the Government Social Media Conference (GSMCON) in Denver, CO.

Director of CEMA, Dennis Jones, said “I’m extremely honored to have received these recognitions… Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate with the public, and the team making that happen are some of the best.”

One award was given for CEMA’s response efforts during Hurricane Irma by the Government Social Media Organization. The second award, titled the Facebook Favorite Award, was presented by U.S. Government and Politics Manager for Facebook, Eva Guidarini.

The response effort being recognized with the second award was also for the Hurricane Irma response, which included several Facebook Live videos and over 2,000 posts during Hurricane Irma and the following days. The consistency of the CEMA staff’s social media postings kept Savannahians safe and informed.

No one was sure if the Hurricane Irma would devastate the Savannah area or leave it relatively unmarked. Luckily, for Savannah it was the latter. Either way, CEMA was prepared.

Photo credit: WJCL-TV

“I am proud to say that Team Chatham once again leads the way in helping to make Chatham County citizens safe… We are on the cutting edge of today’s technology, social media and other communication tools, to keep our community safe during a crisis,” said County Manager Lee Smith.

Chatham County Sheriff’s Office is also being recognized by Project Lifesaver International Rescue. They were the first agency to utilize Project Lifesaver in the coastal empire in 2009.

Project Lifesaver provides international tracking bracelets to members of the community, which assists law enforcement in finding and rescuing individuals with Alzheimer’s dementia, brain injuries, or other diminished mental capacities. The highest amount of officers and other resources, such as helicopters, are deployed to bring the missing person home.

Photo credit: Project Lifesaver website

“The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office has three goals for Project Lifesaver: decreasing our response time in missing person’s, which is always a goal, spreading awareness to caregivers who are unaware of the program, but could benefit from it, and fundraising,” said Emily Skolrood, Public Information Officer at Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

Each bracelet costs $300, and while there are monthly payment plans, not all individuals in need have the ability to pay. Now through July, SOS Tire & Auto is selling raffle tickets with a grand prize of $1,000 in tire services. A percentage of the profits goes toward Project Lifesaver.

On January 24, 2018 Project Lifesaver enabled the Chatham County Sheriff’s office to find a 5-year-old boy within 30 minutes of being notified that he was missing.

By Kelsey Sanchez