Smith takes Emergency Management Agency reins

Published 8:47 am Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Photo by Brandon Hicks Gary Smith has been named as the new EMA director for Carter County. Smith has served as the interim director since July when the previous director resigned.

Photo by Brandon Hicks
Gary Smith has been named as the new EMA director for Carter County. Smith has served as the interim director since July when the previous director resigned.

Carter County has a new EMA director – one with a very familiar face.
On Tuesday morning, Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey announced Gary Smith has been selected as the new director of the Carter County Emergency Management Agency.
Smith has served as the interim director of the agency since the previous director, Andrew Worley, resigned from the post in July. Before that, Smith served as the EMA’s training director, having been hired approximately one month before Worley’s resignation.
“He’s done an excellent job,” Humphrey said of Smith. “He has been well received by the other agencies. I’ve had nothing but positive feedback on the incidents he’s been involved in.”
Smith, a native of Hampton, said he was pleased to be selected to serve as the director and looks forward to the challenge.
“I am certainly grateful for the opportunity and the trust the mayor has shown in me,” Smith said.
Smith said, while his experience with emergency management was limited prior to taking the position of training director, he said he feels his military experience will help him. After serving in the U.S. Air Force for 24 years, Smith retired as a chief master sergeant. He also served for three years as a reserve deputy with the Carter County Sheriff’s Department.
“I think the leadership training alone is worth its weight in gold,” he said. “You have to understand you can’t fix everything at one time; you have to prioritize.”
Smith is no stranger to natural disasters. “I went through three earthquakes and a hurricane while on active duty,” he said.
In 1985, while stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., Smith weathered Hurricane Elena, which was measured as a Category Three hurricane.
“When I was in Japan we had three 6.8 earthquakes in my first six months there,” he said.
One of the things Smith said he is most looking forward to is continuing to work alongside all of the emergency services personnel in community.
“We are so blessed here in Carter County,” Smith said. “We have top notch departments.”
The new director offered high praise for all of the local law enforcement, emergency medical and fire department members.
“When things are going down, they are trained and ready,” he said, adding he is proud of the way the local emergency responders remain calm in the face of danger and difficult circumstances.
Smith said he has a few goals he would like to accomplish with the agency to help improve the way it serves the county.
One of the first, he said, is upgrading the EMA’s radio equipment, which he said is outdated and not compatible with the radio equipment being used by other local agencies.
Another project Smith will tackle is the establishment of an emergency operating fund for the agency. Currently, he said, because the agency does not have an emergency fund if a disaster were to occur, the agency might have to wait until the county mayor, the finance director or even the full county commission approved spending to get the equipment or other things needed to respond to the situation.
Smith said he understands those projects would require additional funding and hopes to be able to work with the county to see those projects come to life during his tenure.

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