PlanFirst Success Story: City of Vidalia

DCA’s PlanFirst program recognizes and rewards Georgia communities that clearly demonstrate an established pattern of successfully implementing their Local Comprehensive Plan. Our PlanFirst “Success Story” series highlights these cities and counties by sharing their incredible achievements. You can view all of the communities on our Story Map.

In 2019, the City of Vidalia updated its Comprehensive Plan which was titled “One Toombs: A Legacy of Leadership.” During its update, the plan received new life as the department heads of the city made significant contributions to the Community Work Program. Their involvement was crucial in order to have a refreshed viewpoint from the last time the Community Work program was updated in 2015.

Department-head involvement in day-to-day operations and desire to experience smart growth led to their influence of the program. Since the Community Work Program was finalized and adopted in the latter part of 2019, it has not provided many opportunities to complete tasks this early in 2020. However, one of the activities the fire department has completed is purchasing, training, and utilizing Rescue Equipment and accessories (Jaws of Life). Although this piece of equipment is not unique to Vidalia, it has already proven to be beneficial when it comes to saving lives without delay!

In the spring of 2019, as the comprehensive plan update was initiated, discussions began about obtaining this piece of equipment for the first time in the department’s history amongst city leaders and with officials from Toombs County. They knew it was important for Toombs County officials to be involved so that they recognized the importance of both entities being able to back one another up in times of need. Historically, the City of Vidalia has relied on the Toombs County Rescue Team for this service within the city limits of Vidalia.

The equipment was received in January of 2020. Following the training by the fire department employees, the equipment was quickly put to use and often. Since January, our fire department has responded to four calls where the Jaws of Life were utilized (one was to assist Toombs County). The response time of the four incidents has been three minutes. In the past, response times would be at least eight to nine minutes due to the procedures that were necessary to operate the Toombs County’s equipment. This will not only save lives in Vidalia but also in Toombs County due to the readiness of the equipment to operate at a moment’s notice.

In the Community Work Program of the Comprehensive Plan, the purchase of the rescue equipment was included in the Community Facilities and Services and Intergovernmental Coordination elements. Also, under the Needs and Opportunities section of the plan, it describes the following need for the City:

  • Purchase rescue equipment/accessories (Jaws of Life) for Vidalia  
  • As a Long Term Policy, the City of Vidalia included the following two policies in its Comprehensive Plan:
    • The community will continue to improve public safety services, facilities, and personnel training to support an expanding population, improve quality of service, and better coordinate in times of emergency and disaster
    • The community will continue to seek ways to cooperate and coordinate efforts in the delivery of services and will investigate the possibility of shared and consolidated services where appropriate and feasible

This foresight by local officials and staff has already proven to be a true investment in the lives of citizens in the community. There is no dollar amount that can be placed on someone’s life. The partnership with Toombs County will only lead to the betterment of operations that Vidalia’s citizens will benefit from now and into the future.