Beattie named Vermont Emergency Management Director of Year

By Cherise Madigan
©2020 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Londonderry’s own Kevin Beattie has been recognized as Vermont’s Emergency Management Director of the Year for 2020, a year in which emergency management is anything but “business-as-usual.”

Kevin Beattie celebrates being named Emergency Management Director of 2020. Photo provided.

“Kevin Beattie has all the characteristics that make an exemplary EMD,” said Mark Bosma, public information officer for the state Department of Public Safety, which awards the title each year. “[He has] a wealth of experience, a willingness to mentor other EMDs, and a proactive approach to assisting surrounding communities and the state.”

According to the submitted nominations, Beattie’s approach to emergency management has become invaluable during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, in which he has coordinated food distributions for those in need while also leading the establishment of the Mountain Towns Emergency Operations Center alongside peers in Weston, Peru, and Landgrove.

“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic [Kevin] has worked tirelessly to direct the emergency management efforts of the community by coordinating with the Vermont Department of Public safety and our elected officials… with area emergency response and social service providers, and by keeping the Selectboard fully informed about State and local response and funding opportunities,” said Town Administrator Shane O’Keefe via email. “[He] has also coordinated an innovative multi-town virtual Emergency Operations Center which has proven extremely effective.”

The Emergency Operations Center has proved a groundbreaking model, according to Beattie, and has attracted interest at the statewide level and soon could be replicated in other regions of Vermont. Formed to coordinate cohesive communication in the region during the pandemic, the EOC pools the resources, information and messaging among the four “Mountain Towns.”

Much of that work has been done virtually, of course, which presented its own challenges because setting up the EOC required collaboration between town officials, local social service agencies, and emergency services such as fire and rescue. Creating a centralized source of information for the region has been worth the effort nonetheless.

“That was our primary goal when we opened up the EOC on March 13, and I think it was pretty successful in that,” Beattie said. “It takes a lot of effort to make sure that we know what everyone is doing — that we’re not duplicating efforts, but still covering our bases.”

The pandemic has also required Beattie to configure a Covid-friendly emergency shelter, made more complicated by the closing of many large public spaces as well as distancing measures imposed this spring. Thankfully, such a shelter has not been needed yet.

“Especially with Covid, there’s always that worry that we could encounter another emergency that we’d have to deal with on top of” the pandemic, Beattie said. That’s just one of many scenarios that any Emergency Management director needs to be prepared for, he said.

Though he has filled the role since Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, Beattie calls 2020  “radically different” from past years.

“When you think about emergency management, you think about floods, power outages, hurricanes or snowstorms,” he said, noting that the pandemic has proved to be starkly different. “Although pandemics have always been on the list of emergencies that we might have to deal with, I don’t know anyone locally who had given it much thought as something we’d actually have to deal with someday.”

In less turbulent times, the Emergency Management director focuses largely on planning for potential emergencies. That’s just one major aspect of emergency management, Beattie says, alongside responding during an emergency, recovering from it and mitigating risk. In his recognition as EMD of the Year, Beattie was also lauded for having “proactively set up warming shelters for multiple towns during power outages, coordinated the delivery of trainings to the region and worked with surrounding towns to ensure individuals attended.”

“An EMD does a lot of work during times when there’s no emergency actually happening,” added Beattie, who is also Londonderry’s First Constable, serves on the town’s rescue squad and fire department, and is chief of Londonderry Technical Rescue.

That’s just a snapshot of his public service record, however. Beattie has been active in  town government for more than two decades, including his leadership of Londonderry’s inaugural Conservation Commission in 1996.

“It’s definitely rewarding,” Beattie said. “I just firmly believe that people should put back into their community in one way or another. I certainly don’t expect everyone to be a volunteer junkie like I am, but the more people there are helping, the more that gets done.”

“He’s our ‘go-to’ ‘can-do’ guy,” O’Keefe concluded. “The people of Londonderry are fortunate at this critical time to have such a professional serving in this important role.”

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About the Author: Journalist and photographer Cherise Madigan specializes in writing about outdoor recreation, the environment and travel. She has roots in Manchester and a history of reporting throughout Southern Vermont. Madigan is a graduate of Nazareth College of Rochester, earning her degree in Political Science summa cum laude in 2015.

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  1. Sally Hoover says:

    Congratulations Kevin. A well deserved honor for all you do in the community.

  2. Bob Wells says:

    What a terrific recognition for “one of our own”. We in Londonderry are lucky to have people like Kevin looking out for our well-being.