Payette County recently hired Adam Gonzalez to fill the new role of assistant emergency manager. The part-time position reports to the county’s emergency manager, Lt. Andy Creech of the Payette County Sheriff’s Office.
Gonzalez, whose first full day on the job was Monday, provided the following written answers to questions from the newspaper.
What are the main features of your role as assistant emergency manager for Payette County?
The main part of my job as an assistant emergency manager is to assist the county emergency manager (Lt. Creech) in coordinating the efforts of preparedness in the county. What that looks like is helping facilitate the development of operations, mitigation, and preparedness plans, helping organizations and businesses prepare for and recovery from emergencies or disasters, and making sure the right information is in the hands of the right people when it is needed.
Which college did you attend for your degree in emergency management? What are the main focus areas in that field of study? Is there anything in particular that interests you the most?
I attended Idaho State University. The main focus areas in emergency management was to learn and understand how to help prepare people and organizations to prepare for, respond to, and recovery from disasters or emergencies. Something that always stood out to me was being able to work with people in communities and organizations to know what resources are available to help them in their preparedness efforts. This specifically interested me because when studying the impacts of disasters all around the country and world, those who were the most prepared were able to recover more effectively.
What was your experience with the Idaho Office of Emergency Management?
At the Idaho Office of Emergency Management I worked in the Training and Exercise Section. While there my main focus was on developing the training and exercises for the positions in the Idaho Emergency Operations Center (IDEOC). The purpose of the training and exercise was to allow for opportunities for the staff test plans and make modifications before a disaster or emergency happens. I also worked with other state agencies to develop exercises to test plans and capabilities to improve process and plans.
Aside from the widely recognized risks of flooding and wildfire, are there other significant risks affecting Payette County?
Thinking past the risk of flooding and wildfires that could happen in our county, other risks are accidents involving hazardous materials. Due to the high activity of agriculture in our community large amounts of chemicals are used daily. Along with that we have a railway, interstate, and pipelines that travel through our county that pose a potential risk to our county.
What opportunities do you see for Payette County to become better prepared to handle an emergency?
Something that comes to my mind when first thinking about this question is getting to know your neighbors, coworkers, and community members better. When someone builds those friendships and partnerships we can begin to find ways to help each other and spin a web of skills that can make us more capable of handling things that will come.
What else would you like residents to know about you or your job or emergency preparedness generally?
When preparing for an emergency the best thing is to do something, anything to become more ready. Whether that is seeking more information on what to do or building a ready kit to keep in your car everyone could do better. Also, if people need to know where to start there are many resources in our community that can help make a plan and become more prepared. If a person, family, or workplace wants to be more prepared they can always reach out to us and we can either help or point them in the right direction for someone to help.