10 Qs with
Director Morgan County EMA,
Morgan County, Tennessee
1. HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE INDUSTRY?
6. HAVE YOU READ A RECENT ARTICLE OR BOOK THAT INSPIRED YOU?
I started out 37 years ago as a volunteer firefighter with my local volunteer fire department. While there I also became a volunteer instructor with our State Emergency Management office. When I moved to another county, I volunteered in the county EMA office that I am now the director of.
When completing my college degree, I read a lot on the impact of donations during a disaster. This has inspired me to be a voice when it comes to disasters and the importance of only donating what the local emergency manager impacted by the specific disaster is asking for. I have been doing a lot of research on that topic over the last couple of years.
2. WHAT PROJECT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
7. HOW DO YOU STAY ENGAGED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY?
Setting up our county EOC (Emergency Operations Center). When I was first hired as EMA director 18 years ago my "office" was a desk in the corner of another county agency and the county had no dedicated EOC. When our county 911 center built their new building, they were gracious enough to offer the county space for the EMA office. Working with them we now have a fully functioning EOC with full capabilities including conference room, full kitchen, training facilities along with an active Ham Radio group.
My office has active Facebook and Twitter pages. Participate and give presentations at local schools. Interviews with our local radio station during severe weather. They also have local programming and I participate in promoting disaster preparedness, Severe Weather Awareness Week and National Preparedness month.
8. WHAT’S A FUN FACT ABOUT YOU THAT PEOPLE MIGHT NOT KNOW?
3. WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE A ROADBLOCK FOR WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY?
I'm a competitive shooter. I've been participating in shooting events for the last 37 years participating in everything from action pistol, cowboy action shooting and skeet. I have served on the board of directors of our local gun club for the last 13 years first as training officer for 10 years and membership for the last 3 years.
When I first started out it could be hard at times for women to be taken seriously when it came to disaster planning and response, as it was primarily a male dominated profession. Thankfully that has changed for the better in my 37 years in this field. Old stereotypes are starting to fade away and there are many more women in the field now.
9. ANY TIPS FOR WORK/LIFE BALANCE?
Take advantage of down time. Especially since COVID-19 arrived finding time for time off and more importantly vacation time has been hard. They are very important for balance and don't be afraid to schedule that vacation or the needed day off. We're normally on call 24/7 and that can take a toll if not managed properly. If you were at an event all weekend - be sure to take a day later in the week to refresh.
4. SHARE A HOT TOPIC OR TREND IN YOUR FIELD!
Advancing technology - including the use of drones and virtual meetings. With COVID-19 we had to adapt quickly and transition to virtual meetings. In our profession we couldn't stop doing our job and our meeting load increased substantially. In disaster response the use of drones and being able to get a bird’s eye view of the disaster is very beneficial. We can now see from above almost immediately vs having to wait for a helicopter to come to our area.
10. SHARE YOUR BEST CAREER ADVICE.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. My motto has always been if I don't know the answer I will ask until I find it. Never stop learning and find your passion. There are many opportunities in emergency management from response, to planning and everything in between - all are very important and needed. Join committees, volunteer with your state association.
5. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE GETTING THEIR START IN THE FIELD?
Take as much training as you can. I've even found taking a course for a second time to be beneficial as different instructors bring a different perspective and I've always learned something new. In addition, the networking benefits of training are very beneficial. You never know when a chance meeting with someone in a class or at a meeting will help in the future.