One of Forster's priorities is to provide "the best, correct, real-time information" to first-responders, emergency management officials, and the public, he said, "instead of them getting it through the rumor mill."
Social media, websites, and community-alert systems will tell police officers, firefighters, and rescue workers what the operations center is doing and will let residents know what action they should take, Forster said.
"We need to pool information, not make people search around for it," he said.
Forster grew up in Lackawanna County and lives in southern Lehigh County with his wife, Cindy; their son, 2; and two stepsons, 12 and 10. He does not plan to move to Bucks, he said.
But he has gotten to know the county during more than 10 years working for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA).
He worked at the county's Emergency Operations Center to deal with the storm Sandy in October, and assessed the damage caused by Hurricanes Frances, Jeanne, and Ivan in 2004.
Forster has served as director of the state Emergency Operations Center, and as an emergency management specialist and manager of its counterterrorism program. For the last two years, he was division director of training and exercises.
Before working at PEMA, Forster served as director of emergency services for Carbon County, which has a population about 10 percent that of Bucks.
"I believe we are getting the best of the best," county Commissioner Chairman Rob Loughery said in a statement announcing Forster's hiring for the $85,000-a-year job.
The toughest emergencies Forster has faced, he said, were the rescue of nine men trapped in the flooded Quecreek coal mine in Western Pennsylvania in 2002, and the stranding of hundreds of motorists on Interstate 80, 81, and 78 during the Valentine's Day storm of 2007.
It is important to have warm blankets and drinking water in the car in winter, Forster said, and to keep the gas tank full, in case a snowstorm snarls traffic or your car gets stuck.
In case of a power outage at home, be prepared to support yourself and your family for three days with nonperishable food, water, flashlights, and battery-powered radios, he said.
When buying an emergency generator, get it hooked up by a professional, he advised. Carbon monoxide can build up and be dangerous, he said, and electrical connections can cause a problem when the power comes back on.
Contact Bill Reed at 215-801-2964
or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow
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Read his blog, "BucksInq,"