Most people outside of the emergency management profession don’t know what the job entails but have the assumption that it involves keeping a city or community prepared for a possible disaster. While that is true on a very general level, Kevin Guthrie, the Public Safety Emergency Manager for Flagler County in Florida, knows that there is a lot of work that goes into keeping a community safe.
According to Guthrie, one of the most important elements of emergency management is to build relationships between all of the emergency services team members in the area. This is important because when and if disaster does strike, having strong productive working relationships translates into more efficient emergency management performance.
The best way to handle emergency situations that arise on a large scale over the span of an entire community or metropolis, as Guthrie sees it, is not to consolidate the service tasks but to ensure that there are qualified, dedicated personnel available for every possible eventuality. “We want to respond to every emergency with everything we have,” says Guthrie. His approach has been put to the test several times over the last year, the first being a tornado that struck the Palm Coast in December of 2013.
Guthrie says that his goal during his first year on the job as emergency manager was to work with the public and change their perception and mindset about what his department actually does and how they serve the community. He says he wanted to ensure that they understood that his team brings “coordination and collaboration to the [emergency preparedness] table.”
For 2015, Guthrie says his goal in to continue developing the productive relationships that he helped establish during his first year and take his department to the “next level of quality, professional emergency management and preparedness.”