for immediate release
July 1, 2004

N E W S   R E L E A S E

A one-dollar idea that could save lives has earned a national award for the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office and Okaloosa County's Department of Public Safety, Division of Emergency Management. The two agencies are joint winners of the National Association of Counties Achievement Award for "General Populace Emergency Evaluation." Inspector Tom Ruffin of the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office regards permanently mounted metal "Evacuation Route" signs as a needless expense. They may not be needed for years, and might be missing or in poor shape when they are needed. The idea of weather-resistant heavy-duty paper bags as temporary signs, costing less than a dollar each, require little storage space and can be quickly placed over existing speed limit and other signs when and where needed for evacuations. In case of evacuation, the signs will be used along county and state roads. Inspector Tom Ruffin, with the Sheriffs Office, considers the temporary bags to be an "economic means to provide better signage for mass evacuation. 

Okaloosa County Emergency Management Division Chief Randy McDaniel cites this award as an "example of how the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office and Okaloosa County Division of Emergency Management have teamed together to create new ideas and innovative approaches to affectively deal with the needs of our community. Team work and inter-agency communication is an essential component to providing the citizens of our county the highest quality of public services, especially during times of crisis.  It is certainly an honor to receive this achievement award for a program that could potentially help to save lives."

A photograph of the evacuation sign may be viewed and printed at


for more information contact Catherine Dokey, Community Relations Coordinator

(850) 651-7153