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Monday, October 24, 2016

First Day of Work--DEMA Style

On a normal first day of work, you might follow a typical routine—eat a hearty breakfast, drink a fresh cup of coffee, and wear your nicely pressed outfit to your new job. With your ready-to-tackle-the-workday mentality, you plan on making a good impression, learning policies, and completing HR trainings. To my surprise, my first day of work at the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA) was everything but typical.

Now, to clarify, I did eat my breakfast of champions and put on my Sunday’s best, but at 8:00 a.m. I was already in full-fledged emergency drill mode, soaking up the excitement of emergency management. With curious eyes and an intrigued mind, I gathered with 40 DEMA staff officials in the State Emergency Operations Center for a practice drill. The scenario at hand was: “A helicopter has crashed at Papago Park Military Reservation near the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). The area has been contaminated and the SEOC must be evacuated.”

We carefully ran through attendance and headed-off to the Pima County Emergency Operations Center in Tucson. With my emergency vest on, I was ready to execute an emergency plan that will be essential during a disaster situation. This was my first day on the job, and even within the first hour, I was more than certain that I had signed up for a meaningful and rewarding experience.
Practicing "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" for ShakeOut 2016

As a Public Information Officer (PIO) for DEMA, I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with a dedicated team of PIOs on preparing state-wide communications focused on emergency preparedness and hazard information. Reflecting on my first week on the job, I realize how much I learned about DEMA’s helpful resources and devoted staff. For example, I learned how to create a 72-hour emergency supplies kit and the need to consider essential items, such as a first aid kit, radio, flashlight, batteries, cash, cell phone charger, and copies of important documents. I also became informed on how to write an effective communications plan. I realized that detailing evacuation routes away from my home and an out-of-town contact in my communications plan will save me time, money, and resources if a disaster were to strike.

As a state department that recognizes the need to connect with Arizona’s diverse communities, I am also excited to contribute to DEMA’s Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN). AzEIN is a convenient online network used to share emergency management news and to educate Arizonans on how to prepare for all hazards. You can conveniently connect with AzEIN through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Through my new position, I look forward to serving Arizona and working with my talented colleagues at DEMA who have already shown me how much they truly care about collaborating with communities, government departments, and organizations to build a more prepared and emergency-ready Arizona. My a-typical first work day has certainly set the tone for more exciting opportunities at DEMA to come. 

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