Bergquist gets EMA awardStutsman County Emergency Manager Jerry Bergquist received an Achievement Award for “outstanding contributions to the field” from the North Dakota Emergency Management Association.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Stutsman County Emergency Manager Jerry Bergquist received an Achievement Award for “outstanding contributions to the field” from the North Dakota Emergency Management Association.
“Few Emergency Managers have put as much time, effort and dedication into the advancement of emergency management…” wrote the North Dakota Emergency Management Association and Publicity, Awards and Citations Committee. “… you have far surpassed the expectations of your counterparts.”
Bergquist hadn’t been told in advance that he was to receive the honor at the Emergency Management Association Conference, and was extremely surprised when his name was announced.
“They kept a really good secret. I’m not going to trust any of them ever again,” Bergquist said with a laugh.
Bergquist has served as emergency manager in Stutsman County for 23 years. He is also one of only a handful of North Dakota emergency managers who serves as a 911 coordinator in charge of a dispatch center.
One of the others is Karen Kempert, emergency manager of Cavalier County, who nominated Bergquist for the award.
In her nomination, Kempert praised Bergquist for promoting understanding of emergency management, mentoring new emergency managers across the state and looking at new and innovative ways to standardize disaster response.
Before, during and after an emergency
People are most familiar with the role of emergency management during its response to actual emergencies, but the job actually involves four components, Bergquist said — planning, responding, recovery and mitigation.
The planning element is especially crucial as Stutsman County is currently working on revising its emergency operations plan.
“We’re trying to make the plan more user-friendly,” Bergquist explained.
The document is massive, and attempts to cover a wide range of possible emergencies and an even wider range of people who could be needed in the event of an emergency.
That includes not only the county commissioners, sheriffs, police, township boards, city councils and fire departments, but also the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Transportation, North Dakota Game and Fish, city engineers, Humane Society, National Guard, the Public Works Department and the Central Valley Health District.
Part of the planning process includes training and practicing working together with multiple agencies, because “you don’t want to have a real event and they’ve never worked together,” Bergquist said. “You create the relationship so that when there’s something that’s never been done before… you can make it work for you.”
During an emergency, communications are critical. For example, during the 2009 flood, Bergquist coordinated emergency operations center meetings with 50 to 60 people in attendance.
Emergency managers also have to document everything that occurs during an emergency, especially any damage that occurs, so that they can apply for federal and state funds at a later date.
That’s part of the recovery piece of Bergquist’s job.
The Stutsman County emergency management office has brought tens of millions of dollars of federal aid to the county and its jurisdictions to assist with infrastructure rebuilding and recovery efforts, Bergquist explained.
“You can save lives and save property but (also) make that work process more efficient, which allows everybody to do their jobs better,” Bergquist said.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be
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