Two now head up emergency office

Dave Johnson (right) is Garvin County’s second emergency management director, while Tommy Lawson is the first to fill a new deputy director position. (PV Democrat photo)

With the future in mind there’s not one but two officials manning Garvin County's emergency management office these days.

Just a few months ago Dave Johnson was named as the new director of the program replacing the retiring Bud Ramming.

Before stepping down Ramming served 10 years as the program’s first ever director. He also served that time alone in the office housed in Pauls Valley.

That’s not the case anymore as Johnson has been joined by Tommy Lawson, who is now serving as the office’s deputy director.

Johnson’s quick to stress the idea of creating this second position came from Garvin County’s commissioners.

“When I interviewed with the county commissioners for this job they had already decided to start this deputy director position,” Johnson says.

“They wanted to ensure the longevity of the program. At some point I’ll want to retire and Tommy will be able to step in and be the lead. The cycle will go on with at least one person who’s been through the different emergency situations.

“I really appreciate the county commissioners for being so supportive of this program.”

Lawson says a whole lot has been coming his way since he stepped into his new job back in early June.

“There's been a lot of classes, but it's been a good learning experience,” he said. “I'm learning a lot of new stuff.”

One of Lawson’s first big jobs is to take the registrations of all the private storm shelters in the county, now seen in paper form in a big binder, and get that information updated for a more digital age.

“We already had the data, but it needed to be more accessible to first-responders,” Lawson said.

“I’ve been working at transferring that to GeoSafe so that all first-responders would have access to it.”

The still new deputy director is referring to the GeoSafe app that all responders can use to get the exact location of an emergency right on their cell phones.

Right now there’s a bit over 560 private shelters registered with the county emergency management office here.

“We have a layer we can open up on the map to show where all the registered shelters are located,” Johnson adds. “Every responder has in their hand the locations of all the registered storm cellars.

“We’re encouraging everyone to register their storm shelter, safe rooms, whatever.”

He says call 405-230-1148 to find out more on that process.

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Johnson also has high praise for Ramming and his work over the past decade to establish an emergency management office for the county and move it forward.

“Bud Ramming came into this and started this program. He did an excellent job creating a network and establishing communication. I am fortunate to come into a healthy, working program,” he said.

“I see the mission of this office is to provide support for emergency responders in the county. If they need resources I should be the one to get those resources.

“It’s about logistics and coordinating rather than boots on the grounds. It’s about providing support to first-responders.”

According to Johnson, Ramming worked to create all kinds of emergency plans for area fire departments and a variety of scenarios that could happen throughout the county.

Part of his job now is stay focused on updating those plans annually.

He adds Garvin County is fortunate to have 12 “strong and active” fire departments, compared to other counties with far fewer.

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