Local Emergency Response Coordinator (LERC) for Hughes, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Pottawatomie, & Seminole Counties
8 years of service
Got any favorite quotes?
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin.
Who inspires you?
My mother and father have always given their lives to doing for others and have inspired me to always take pride in serving others. My wonderful wife, Robin, who I met during the MIPS exercise in 2005 as she served as ESF-8/ Point of Distribution (POD) manager. She has always stood beside me and supported me and picked up the slack when I have had to work long hours or have been away on deployments. My children who are making their own way of serving others through their lives. Brenda Potts, my regional administrative director who always inspires me to see the best in every situation and strive to be better. My best friend, Raelina Tucker, who always inspires everyone to work our hardest to serve the citizens, is always willing to make sure staff is available for training and exercises, and willing to help assist our partners. My peers and my coworkers!
If someone was interested in a public health career, what advice or encouragement would you give them?
You must be passionate about making life a better, safer and more prepared place for others. Must be willing to educate yourself and take advantage of all the trainings that are available to you, and be willing to give as much as you require of others.
How did you start working in public health?
I was deputy emergency management director for the City of Tecumseh and was involved in the Mass Immunization/Prophylaxis Strategy (MIPS) exercise in 2005. I then served as MIPS warehouse manager. When the LERC position was created, I knew that was what I wanted to do.
Can you share a few highlights of your experience in public health in Oklahoma?
I am very lucky and have the best coworkers who have always taken emergency preparedness and response seriously. They have always worked hard to be prepared to respond to any public health emergency.
There are so many highlights I could list, but probably the first is the way our team responded to the May 19, 2013 tornado. Our team not only served the citizens in the Emergency Support Function (ESF)-8 roll at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), but also sent out strike teams to give emergency tetanus shots. We started out with a vaccine trailer setup at a staging area and quickly realized the citizens affected would not leave their homes to come to us, so we divided into two teams and went into the damaged areas. We went door to door of what was left of homes and gave shots right there in the field. We provided almost 1,000 shots in over a week. After we were finished, we used our experience as a quality improvement project and was awarded the Governor’s Commendation.
In your role, how do you educate people about public health?
I enjoy going into the community and giving talks to groups of citizens and community partners about how they can better prepare for public health emergencies as well as all hazards in Oklahoma. I have spoken to senior citizen groups, civic groups, and have presented at several conferences including Inter-Tribal Emergency Management Coalition Conferences, Tribal Public Health Conference and am scheduled to speak at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 6 Response and Recovery Workshop.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
It is challenging to ensure we have trained staff and volunteers ready to respond when called upon. The threats we face are ever changing, so it is important to be trained on all threats so we can respond appropriately for the citizens we serve.
What is the most rewarding experience you have had in public health?
Being able to see our staff respond and work as a team to real-world responses knowing we have made a difference in the lives of the citizens we serve.