Norfolk, Chesapeake city leaders want to team up to see how they can improve response to major emergencies

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - City leaders from Norfolk and Chesapeake say they're ready for the next step in making sure they're prepared for a major emergency like a terror attack or mass shooting.

"What we're really looking at is trying to become more efficient and effective by working together," said Mike Goldsmith, the Deputy City Manager of Norfolk.

This week Goldsmith and his counterpart in Chesapeake, Bob Geis, briefed their respective city council members about their plans to study how they can improve their responses. The two have also been working closely with Hampton and Virginia Beach.

"We work really well together, but we can really do better and this is that next step," Geis said.

Some possible ideas include a shared 911 dispatch center or shared emergency operations center.

"We don't know what the answer is going to be yet, but we do know by taking a look at this - a new look - maybe it'll ll give us a better opportunity for our citizens," Geis said.

Right now if there were a major emergency, the cities would help each other, but the city leaders say every second counts, so why not make sure they have the best resources in place?

"Seconds matter. The faster you can get the response, the faster that response comes prepared to their job. We can save lives," Geis said.

The collaboration could also help during a major storm. "We've seen with Florence and Michael - these storms don't care where the boundary lines are. If you don't have a coordinated regional response in those efforts, I don't see how you can be successful," said Goldsmith.

This latest initiative includes Norfolk and Chesapeake, but the two say they're open to the whole area collaborating. "This isn't about excluding anybody," Goldsmith said. "We want to be inclusive of anyone who wants to collaborate."

Next month, the city council members in Chesapeake and Norfolk will vote on moving forward with the collaboration. After that, they could ask an outside firm to do a study and offer some specific recommendations.