The SW Health Care Coalition designed a functional exercise that was offered in each of the 18 counties in their region, along with a 19th county from the NW region during their grant year (07/01/15-06/30/16). These were EOC functional exercises for a train (or truck where applicable) incident involving hazardous materials spill. Jeff provided weather information as well as plume models for each of these exercises. He attended each exercise, participating as NWS representative as well as stepping in to be an evaluator at a large number of the exercises. Jeff also provided valuable education to the exercise participants on what NWS can provide (e.g. provide & receive weather information on the 800 MHz Event talk group, broadcast messages on the Emergency Alert System which can reach those affected over all hazards radio, public radio, and TV, provide event support for the locals, etc.) of which those in attendance were very appreciative.
Jeff was also instrumental in starting the monthly EM radio checks in the SW region on the SW 11 E Event 2 talk group. The reason for using the Event talk group vs the EM one was to get people in the habit of using that talk group, which would make it easier to turn to during severe weather to send and receive weather updates.
For several years, Paul Taylor has been serving Douglas County Emergency Management as a champion for the cause of preparedness in our community. Paul has served the citizens of Douglas County through presentations and speaking engagements on the emotional side of disaster response. As a chaplain for Douglas County Sheriff's Office, Emergency Communications, and Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical, Paul brings a wealth of experience to his presentations due to his diverse background. From the public safety perspective, as a former paramedic, Paul is able to speak with real world experience and examples of situations that cause stress, fatigue, and emotional turmoil in those dedicated to serving and protecting. From a broader care-giving perspective, as a former pastor, Paul is able to speak with empathy and compassion highlighting the ways we all need each other and can serve one another. Paul's presentation on "Disaster Psychology" has become an integral part of many of the public outreach efforts we endeavor as DGCOEM. In the last year alone, Paul has presented alongside our staff and volunteers at a full CERT course for active and future DGCOEM volunteers, to a group made up primarily of elderly citizens at a mini-CERT course, and to a group of teenagers at Lawrence High School through our Teen CERT program. Paul's unique voice and perspective makes this presentation consistently the highest rated portion of whatever course he is a part of. Without Paul Taylor as a partner in our community outreach efforts.
For the past 3 years, Jennifer Reeve has been working behind the scenes and has been an integral part of the KEMA Conferences. In addition to her regular duties as the Office Assistant for Geary County Emergency Management, Jennifer has been responsible for the KEMA Perspective and doing the Conference Brochures.
Three years ago, someone was needed to take over as the Editor of the KEMA Perspective. Jennifer volunteered to take that task on. Articles and photographs were sent to her and she designed the Perspective. She went out on the internet and obtained quotes and clippings to add to the Perspective. She then made sure that it was forwarded to the KEMA Board who then sent it out to the membership.
Jennifer also produced the conference brochures that made for each conference. She worked with the conference personnel to make sure that everything was correct in the brochure before it was sent to the printers in Lawrence. This included the schedule, and the bios on each of the speakers.
She worked to produce a small version of the KEMA brochure for the vendor, so they were able to know what was going on during the conference.
Cody has been a vital cog in the training provided by the National Weather Service each year with his contributions to the annual weather and safety presentation titled “Storm Fury on the Plains”. He readily helps with the presentation by solely developing the safety section and provides input on the remainder of the presentation.
In the past year Cody taught the “Storm Fury on the Plains” course 28 times with a high rating each time.
By conducting these local presentations on behalf of the National Weather Service, Cody was able to garner information that the first responders needed more aid in hazardous weather situational awareness and responder safety. Therefore, he developed a weather safety card for police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances. The card is now in over 500 first response vehicles throughout Sedgwick County.
Gary Denny took over the Harvey County Emergency Management in June of 2015 and immediately began a formal training and exercise plan. These exercises have led to a greater sense of cooperation. These exercises focused on capabilities surrounding EOC operations and readiness. Through his efforts Harvey County had a much better concept of how an EOC can and should function. Numerous training opportunities have been executed as well.
The training, guidance and preplanning that Gary provided were not given a chance to stagnate. This year has been a literal trial by fire for Harvey County. In February, They experienced an Active Shooter in Newton, rural Harvey County and Hesston that resulted in 4 fatalities and 14 injured at a plant with over 1100 employees. The response included 16 ambulances and nearly 150 law enforcement officers. Gary and his new Special Projects Coordinator Dan Bronson were key in the unified command and coordination that followed; assisting with the Incident Command Post, providing guidance, and working with the multitude of local, state and federal agencies as well as the regional IMT that came in to assist. Part of the reason the response went so well was the work between Newton Schools and First Responders on active Shooter preparedness. These meetings before and after the Excel Shooting have seen Gary taking the lead on education and keeping the process active and timely.
Ryan agreed to take the Emergency Manager role of not only one county, but three, with the personal goal of helping these communities find ways to pro-actively work together while improving each of their individual abilities to plan, mitigate and respond to emergency situations.
He has developed positive working relationships with commissioners, response leaders, first responders, and citizens of all three counties. Each county has made improvements within their own areas; but have been challenged by Ryan to collaborate together and expand resource capabilities beyond the county borderlines. All three counties have worked together in exercises, then experienced similar disasters, with his leadership efforts are the main reason response actions went smoothly.
The KEMA President's Choice award is presented to honor a person, group or organization that has made a significant contribution to their agency, the emergency management profession or our Association.