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EMA Appreciation Week

About Indiana's EMAs

Every Indiana county has an emergency management agency (EMA) that takes steps to reduce its communities' vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters. EMAs work with other public safety partners and organizations to prepare for, mitigate, respond to and recover from emergencies.

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Unified in Emergency Response: EMAs During COVID-19

Unity icon Unified in Emergency Response: EMAs During COVID-19

EMAs have stepped up tremendously during the COVID-19 pandemic to coordinate local efforts to protect Hoosiers. They have worked closely with many state agencies, including the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) and the Indiana Department of Health, distributing critical personal protective equipment (PPE) and assisting in the vaccination efforts. This all took place while continuing their normal duties to respond to and prepare for disasters.

IDHS celebrates EMAs and their collaboration during COVID-19 during 2021 EMA Appreciation Week: "Unified in Emergency Response."

Gov. Holcomb proclaimed Feb. 21–27, 2021, as EMA Appreciation Week:
Download proclamation PDF


EMA Appreciation Week 2021

Spotlight icon Hancock County EMA logo
District 5 - Hancock County
By EMA Director Misty Moore
Spotlight icon District 5 - Hancock County
By EMA Director Misty Moore

Hancock County EMA Director at EOC
(Photo courtesy of Greenfield Daily Reporter/Tom Russo)
Hancock County EMA Director Misty Moore

Hancock County EMA Director at EOC
(Photo courtesy of Greenfield Daily Reporter/Tom Russo)
Hancock County EMA Director Misty Moore

EMA logo

"Our unified response to the COVID-19 pandemic improved our collaboration with others by streamlining our response to the public health emergency. We quickly established a Unified Command approach at the onset of the pandemic, knowing that several agencies were responding in direct, yet unique ways. Collaborating together on the response and tasks was necessary for an overall effective county response.

"We established a task force consisting of members of each of the directly impacted agencies, including the hospital, health department, law enforcement, fire/EMS and county government officials. From there, we created a community-wide group for information-sharing purposes to ensure everyone in the county was communicating and collaborating, and on the same page. We also created a social media presence for public information by implementing an 'EMA Minute,' where we communicated to the public what the county agencies were doing to respond to the pandemic, and to protect them as our citizens."

Spotlight icon Huntington County EMA logo
District 3 - Huntington County
By EMA Director Robert Jeffers
Spotlight icon District 3 - Huntington County
By EMA Director Robert Jeffers

PPE in boxes
District 3 PPE staged with Huntington County EMA

PPE in boxes
District 3 PPE staged with Huntington County EMA

EMA logo

"Huntington County EMA had the pleasure to assist IDHS and the District 3 counties by providing a point of distribution for all of District 3, done at the request of former IDHS Homeland Security Liaison Rick Dolsen. IDHS would send the PPE supplies for the district to Huntington County, and we would receive the PPE, off-load the delivery trucks and contact the district EMA directors for pickup. Several times the amount of PPE was large enough that we had to use a forklift from the county highway department to unload, and then we would park our response vehicles outside. This allowed the IDHS delivery trucks to return to Indianapolis sooner to fill the needs for other counties. It was great working with all the personnel from IDHS, and I believe this demonstrates 'Unified in Emergency Response' at its best!"

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More EMA Stories of Unity

Unity icon More EMA Stories of Unified Response

  • Districts 1-5
    Districts 1-5 map
    Districts 1–5
    Districts 1-5 map
    Districts 1–5
    EMA logo
    District 5 - Johnson County
    By EMA Director Stephanie Sichting
    EMA logo District 5 - Johnson County
    By EMA Director Stephanie Sichting

    "I organized an incident management team (IMT) that worked with local governments, police and fire departments, hospitals and long-term care facilities. The IMT assisted all of them with COVID-19 PPE and creating plans to help the long-term care facilities successfully isolate COVID-19–positive residents.

    Our EMA office also assisted in the COVID-19 outbreak by working with the Johnson County Council to request funds to purchase PPE for the county and its first responders. We collaborated with our local health department to get PPE to health-related facilities so they could see COVID-19 patients and we helped the Johnson County sheriff get PPE for the Johnson County Jail."

    EMA logo
    District 2 - Kosciusko County
    By EMA Director Edward Rock
    EMA logo District 2 - Kosciusko County
    By EMA Director Edward Rock

    "All emergency response agencies in Kosciusko County have learned to communicate and lean on each other for information and supplies. We have developed COVID-19 procedures for our emergency responses based on input from county health partners. We also worked with our dispatch to find the best method of communicating, reduce COVID-19 risks and ensure the safest emergency response was consistent across all agencies."

    EMA logo
    District 1 - Porter County
    By EMA Director Lance Bella
    EMA logo District 1 - Porter County
    By EMA Director Lance Bella

    People with PPE in boxes
    Porter County EMA delivering PPE

    People with PPE in boxes
    Porter County EMA delivering PPE

    "We creatively collaborate with various emergency service agencies to triage their needs and help them find resolutions to their problems. We hold weekly county-wide conference calls with emergency responders, city government and key stakeholders to openly communicate and collectively solve issues occurring in Porter County."

    EMA logo
    District 3 - LaGrange County
    By EMA Director Bill Morr
    EMA logo District 3 - LaGrange County
    By EMA Director Bill Morr

    "After starting my job role during the pandemic, it was vital to work closely with others and learn from them. Having a great team of emergency managers in our district, as well as great liaison and resource support at the state level, made it easy to ask questions and/or listen to ideas during virtual meetings.

    "I have been working closely with the LaGrange County Health Department during the pandemic, especially during the vaccine clinic phase. Throughout the pandemic, I have been able to help supply our first responders with PPE as needed to help keep them safe. I have also given masks to our local school corporations so that they have extra on hand to help keep the students and staff safe."

    EMA logo
    District 3 - DeKalb County
    By EMA Deputy Director Gabe Creech
    EMA logo District 3 - DeKalb County
    By EMA Deputy Director Gabe Creech

    Mass vaccine site
    DeKalb County EMA coordinated a mass vaccination site

    Mass vaccine site
    DeKalb County DHS coordinated a mass vaccination site

    "Once the first case of COVID-19 was found in Indiana, we started hosting weekly planning meetings that included the sheriff’s department, health department, Indiana State Police, our local health officer, our IT department, a fire department representative and our commissioners. In those meetings, we discussed the current situation in our county and how all involved would proceed with the response to the pandemic. These meetings were very helpful in creating a unified approach to our pandemic response.

    "We also collaborated with our EMA counterparts in our district on a weekly basis, using these meetings to update each other about issues we were having that other counties may face, find solutions to problems all were encountering and coordinating personal protective equipment supply pickups."

    EMA logo
    District 4 - Tippecanoe County
    By EMA Director William "Smokey" Anderson
    EMA logo District 4 - Tippecanoe County
    By EMA Director William "Smokey" Anderson

    "We began working with the Tippecanoe County Health Department on Feb. 18, 2020, as we monitored COVID-19. On Feb. 24, 2020, we began staffing our emergency operations center and worked together with health department staff to purchase, store and distribute PPE to our public safety partners in Tippecanoe County. We also collaborated to open and staff our county’s COVID-19 clinic."

  • Districts 6-10
    Districts 6-10 map
    Districts 6–10
    Districts 6-10 map
    Districts 6–10
    EMA logo
    District 9 - Floyd County
    By EMA Director Kent Barrow
    EMA logo District 9 - Floyd County
    By EMA Director Kent Barrow

    "We activated our EOC early during the pandemic and successfully brought together all of our county’s stakeholders. We utilized the Incident Command System structure so our logistics section could create a PPE inventory and distribute it to important facilities in the county. Additionally, weekly conference calls have enabled us to build better relationships with our county organizations, nonprofits and long-term health care facilities.

    "We continue to assist vaccine sites in our county by providing them equipment and supplies needed to keep our health care and volunteers safe."

    EMA logo
    District 6 - Henry County
    By EMA Director Joseph H. Wolfe III
    EMA logo District 6 - Henry County
    By EMA Director Joseph H. Wolfe III

    "By responding to COVID-19, Henry County and its emergency response agencies have strengthened their communication, coordination and relationships with each other."

    EMA logo
    District 8 - Jackson County
    By EMA Director Duane Davis
    EMA logo District 8 - Jackson County
    By EMA Director Duane Davis

    "Although disasters and emergencies are few and far between, the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed us to utilize our past experiences and training and effectively collaborate with local partners. We often talked about the need to further develop partnerships within Jackson County, and we successfully developed a private partnership as a logistical staging area (LSA) for District 8.

    "We also held regular conference calls with local partners which included manufacturers, businesses, the medical community and elected and appointed officials. This provided confidence in the county’s decision-making process, with the most current information available on how to best protect people in Jackson County."

    EMA logo
    District 6 - Rush County
    By EMA Director Charles Kemker
    EMA logo District 6 - Rush County
    By EMA Director Charles Kemker

    "We began having conversations with our county health department on COVID in early January 2020, and we’ve continued collaborating together since then. For several months we also coordinated weekly calls that included us, the county health department and Rush Memorial Hospital.

    "When the discussions first started about COVID we had a joint meeting with local county and city officials, fire/EMS, schools, industries, small businesses, health departments and hospitals to plan what needed to be done. As we began to reopen the county, we had the same meeting with the same groups to discuss guidance.

    "Beginning in March of 2020 we also formed our county COVID task force. At the start of our local response, I became the repository and distributor for all agencies on PPE."

    EMA logo
    District 9 - Switzerland County
    By EMA Director Thomas Moore
    EMA logo District 9 - Switzerland County
    By EMA Director Thomas Moore

    "The response for COVID-19 improved our collaboration, especially with our health department schools, senior citizen care facilities and other organizations. We had a close unification with the Switzerland County Health Department, the Switzerland County Nurses Management Clinic and the local school administration and faculty. We also got our local elected officials more involved in the COVID-19 event."

    EMA logo
    District 8 - Monroe County
    By EMA Director Allison Moore
    EMA logo District 8 - Monroe County
    By EMA Director Allison Moore

    "Sometimes bad situations strengthen collaboration and strategic partnerships in new ways. That is exactly what COVID-19 did for Monroe County. The connections that were built prior to COVID-19 gathered people closely and benefited from all various resources throughout the county. The Monroe County EMA office was among such wonderful leaders finding ways to benefit and help our residents throughout this pandemic.

    "While most partners were previously established, new people were brought in and partnered with others to help answer questions that sometimes need additional manpower to create a stronger response to a problem. Monroe County residents benefited from our unified approach."

    EMA logo
    District 7 - Vermillion County
    By EMA Director Mark O'Heir
    EMA logo District 7 - Vermillion County
    By EMA Director Mark O'Heir

    "We brought all county agencies and the state together for the COVID-19 response, which required plans to be reviewed and updated virtually rather than face-to-face. We also prioritized first responders and available PPE to ensure we were not wasting materials and efforts."

    EMA logo
    District 9 - Decatur County
    By EMA Director Brad Speer
    EMA logo District 9 - Decatur County
    By EMA Director Brad Speer

    "Because Decatur County is diverse with large industry and rural settings, we needed a diverse team to respond and work the COVID-19 response. I think our ability to work with many departments and in many areas will help us in future responses as well.

    "We have conference calls through the county EOC twice a week. These are short calls where anyone can bring up issues or questions after a review from the local hospital, health department, elected officials and EMA. There are nearly 20 local and state departments invited to the call. We have now added vaccination status and numbers to the information presented as well."

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Share the Good

Unity icon Share the Good

In addition to the stories submitted by EMAs, others sent in comments on the vital work that emergency managers completed during 2020.

  • Statewide EMA Successes

    Share the Good illustration

    Floodgate sign
    New floodgate by Morgan County EMA

    Floodgate sign
    New floodgate by Morgan County EMA

    • Madison County established a distribution point to help residents in need access food.
    • Putnam County (District 7) and Huntington County (District 3) served as central hubs for PPE, streamlining the acquisition and distribution for all counties in those districts.
    • Newton and Porter counties were both able to rally volunteers to assist with the response, with volunteers working more than 2,700 hours in 2020, saving the counties more than $67,000.
    • Despite seeing cuts in EMPG salary, the Morgan County EMA was able to show the value and funds its program brings to the county, which eventually resulted in pay increases for its staff. The agency has undergone a large project to put up new floodgates with signage at many of the roadways that frequently flood throughout the county. The EMA also spearheaded a holiday food donation campaign to help the less fortunate in Morgan County. It also has been working with the Indianapolis Power & Light Company to remove a low-head dam that has caused fatalities over the years. –Ben Esterline, IDHS Central Region Liaison
    • Mick Newton, Noble County’s EMA director, has spent most of his life in public safety and is a true asset to his county, District 3 and the state of Indiana as a whole. He has demonstrated the true meaning of collaboration and teamwork during his years as an EMA director and is a key player in the community during the COVID-19 response. Mick has done extraordinary work and has a true, genuine passion to help others. –Courtney Turner, IDHS North Region Liaison
    • White County EMA had two main goals for 2020: professionalism and leadership. To address professionalism, they changed the way the community viewed emergency management in the county by pulling back from a heavy emphasis on response (traffic) and began shifting their agency to a management component (leadership) through planning and information sharing. Communication and resources were two capabilities White County EMA utilized to improve their ability to engage with the community and local agencies to begin building great partnerships. They focused their efforts on becoming the central hub of information and resources (such as PPE, vaccination site assistance, public information and finance) within the county. COVID-19 was the catalyst that enabled White County EMA to fully engage with all of its elected officials, response agencies, school corporations and other community stakeholders. The goal was to leverage relationships and knowledge with other agencies to lead the community through the pandemic. During that time, White County EMA moved to identify their core functions and re-align their agency with the focus on managing large disasters and elevating their capabilities to function efficiently within those disasters. –Stormy Friday, IDHS North Region Liaison

Previous EMA Appreciation Weeks

  • 2020

    About EMA Appreciation Week

    EMA Appreciation Week Governor's Proclamation document
    Governor's Proclamation

    Indiana's first-ever EMA Appreciation Week (Feb. 24–28, 2020) honored the tireless dedication emergency management personnel have for keeping their communities safe. The week's theme of "Safeguarding the Hoosier Homeland" highlighted the responsibilities and actions of these individuals.

    What is an EMA?

    EMA stands for "Emergency Management Agency." Emergencies begin and end locally, and Indiana’s county EMAs fill the first line of response. They take steps to reduce vulnerability to hazards, cope with disasters and liaise with other counties and the state. EMAs work with public safety partners and other organizations within communities to prepare for, mitigate, respond to and recover from emergencies.

    IDHS Thanks EMAs


    IDHS Executive Director Stephen Cox


    IDHS Director of Emergency Management Erin Rowe

    Celebrating Indiana's EMA Personnel

    The Indiana Department of Homeland Security honored the hard work of Indiana's 92 emergency management agencies as Indiana celebrated the first-ever EMA Appreciation Week, Feb. 24–28, 2020. In recognition of their tireless dedication, Gov. Eric J. Holcomb issued a proclamation encouraging Hoosiers to learn about the efforts of these highly trained professionals. IDHS proudly partners with and thanks every agency for their unending commitment to helping others.

    The following are just a few of the EMA directors, coordinators and office staff from across the state and their thoughts on emergency management: