Since its inception, the Western Piedmont Regional Emergency Management Task Force was destined to be different. The task force is made up of five mostly rural South Carolina counties, those counties being Abbeville, Anderson, Greenwood, Oconee, and Pickens. These five counties have learned that there's power in cooperation and a greater sense of ach evement when a coalition of counties can maximize each other's strengths.
The results of this partnership can be seen in the recognition it has received. The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) recently announced that the Task Force is the winner of the 2010 IAEM-USA “Partners in Preparedness Award.” This award recognizes programs or processes that demonstrate innovative, multi-participant involvement between local governments/governmental entities and private sector businesses, non-governmental organizations/non-profits, or individuals which have resulted in effective and efficient incident management, emergency management or homeland security processes.
The Task Force received this award for the Palmetto Shield 2010/Red Dragon Exercise 2010, an exercise whose partners included the five counties that are members of the Task Force as well as Clemson University and the U.S. Army Reserve. This award was given for partnering with the U.S. Army Reserve and hosting an extremely ambitious full-scale local disaster exercise in June of 2010 involving FEMA, SLED, 105 additional local, state and federal agencies and private industries, utilities and volunteer organizations. Called “Red Dragon/Palmetto Shield,” the exercise simulated a multiple weapons attack by terrorists.
Recently the Task Force was awarded, for an unprecedented third time, won the 2010 Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Regional Cooperation Award, also for the Red Dragon/Palmetto Shield exercise. This award is presented annually by the South Carolina Association of Counties, and is named in honor of the late Barrett Lawrimore. Mr. Lawrimore was elected SCAC President in 2004 but died shortly afterward. First elected to Charleston County Council in 1992, Mr. Lawrimore was serving his third consecutive term on county council. He was elected council chairman in 1996 and reelected council chairman from 1997 to 2001 and in 2004.
The Western Piedmont Regional Emergency Management Task Force (WPREMTF) previously won the Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Regional Cooperation Award in 2006 and 2008.
In 2006, for improving preparedness and response to all-hazards disasters including major public assemblies, the task force received a Certificate of Merit in the annual Interagency Disaster Preparedness Awards, awarded by Homeland Protection Professional magazine and the International Association of Emergency Managers.
Leaders of these five counties have decided it would be better to share strengths and work together to overcome weaknesses in order to respond more effectively to a wide range of potential emergencies and disasters that could occur within the region.