At an emergency operations group meeting inside the Emergency Operations Center June 6, representatives of many agencies met Kymmie Scott for the first time in her new role as Emergency Operations Manager for Del Norte County. However, many already knew her as the former City Clerk/Public information officer/Administrative analyst of Crescent City and the emergency manager for the Tolowa Dee-ni Nation.
County CAO Jay Sarina said Scott was interviewed by a county panel before the decision came to him to hire her. He said she is well qualified for the position and has a number of certifications in emergency services.
Sarina said along with Scott’s many qualifications, she comes to the county with a great deal of enthusiasm. Scott has been working in the position since May 13 and takes over the role from Cindy Henderson, who retired at the end of last year.
Scott said she recently returned from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Advanced Academy training in Blue Lake. She explained that FEMA has three professional development schools, offering basic, advanced and executive courses, and she had been enrolled in the advanced academy since November. Advanced academy training prepares managers for county-level emergency management.
“For me, it’s been really good because it’s leadership-focused and networking has been great,” she said, noting that many of the other trainees were from Northern California. “For all of us that may have to work together someday on a big disaster event, we’re growing some amazing bonds together.”
Saying her last 18 months of work with the Tolowa Dee-ni Nation has helped her transition, Scott noted she has been involved in emergency response and planning for some time.
“I was the Office of Emergency Services liaison for the city when I worked there, so that’s how I learned how our EOC (Emergency Operations Center) works and got to know the players,” she said.
Scott went from the city to work at the Tolowa Dee-ni Nation. There, she wrote a new emergency operations plan, which illustrates how it will respond to emergencies and collaborate with its community and partners.
“For the tribe, a real emergency management program was new to them,” she said. “Before it was a lot of CPR, fire drills and that sort of thing, and not really the big picture stuff you can accomplish in emergency management.”
Scott said the tribe now has a long-term training program. She also wrote grants establishing long-term funding for programs and helped provide education about accessing resources for local and federal funding in the event of an emergency.
“My favorite accomplishment up there was getting recognition for them north of the border, into Oregon within their aboriginal territory with all the fires that happened last year,” Scott said.
Scott explained the tribe has no official jurisdiction over its aboriginal lands, but incident management assistance teams were able to work with tribes and build relationships that led to the tribe being recognized as a collaborator by overseeing agencies in Oregon.
“Now they’ll be able to provide input in Oregon,” she said. “They’ll have people on the ground who can say ‘here’s where those sites are and protect their cultural and natural values at risk.”
She said the tribe has not hired a new emergency manager, but her former assistant has partly stepped into the role and other duties have been redelegated. She said she will continue to work with the tribe in her new role, which is benefitted by her time with the tribe.
“Being over there has helped me familiarize with the grants that are specific to the Department of Homeland Security and some of the more administrative sides that you don’t learn in school or learn third-party,” Scott said. “I think the big thing being with the tribe helped is getting to learn the tribal world and the tribal partners. Already that’s been great in my new role here at the county, because I have good partnerships with the emergency management programs at all four of our local tribes.”
Scott said she continues to work with tribes to enhance efficiency in funding and collaboration.
“We need to all work together regionally,” she said. “I think it’s something that FEMA maybe doesn’t do very well and CAL OES doesn’t do very well is communicate and bridge us all together. People are sorta scared to work with the tribes because it’s different, so we have an opportunity here to do something really strong in that regard.”
Asked about her education and training, Scott laughed.
“I could just send you my resume,” she said. “I have about 30 certifications from FEMA and Department of Homeland Security.”
Scott’s resume is indeed extensive. She worked in Grand County, Colorado in Search and Rescue from 2009 to 2014, and has led teams of up to 40 rescuers at a time. She co-chaired the Redwood Coast Tsunami Working Group, served as a board member for FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program, and is a member of International Association of Emergency Managers, among other qualifications.
Scott recently graduated FEMA’s National Emergency Management Advanced Academy, She has received many awards for her work, and was recognized as the county’s Woman of the Year by Sen. Mike McGuire in 2017. She also holds all Basic Wildland Firefighter certifications and numerous land-based Search and Rescue certifications.
She is a graduate of Colorado State University in 2018, majoring in Organizational leadership, minoring in Emergency management and public administration.
Scott holds an associate’s degree in business from the University of Phoenix.
As for her new position, Scott noted she will interact often with public health and is continuing her training in that area.
Sarina said next week, the Office of Emergency Services will hold mass care and shelter training, which will be Scott’s first foray into internal training with the County.
What’s the plan
Scott said she intends to introduce emergency planning to many agencies and individuals.
Scott wanted to mention that her son Kody has been her top inspiration.
“He is a constant reminder of what is important in life and as he's grown older he's become very good at helping me look at an issue from various points of view which is so important with the diverse range of people I interact with,” she said.
Scott also said she’s looking forward to working with the many first responder agencies and volunteer groups to build the resiliency of the community.
“It’s been great stepping into this new position, because I already knew so many people, and now I get to take what I really love to do where I really love to do it, and I’ve had all these visions building over the last five years of what I want to do and now I’m in a place where I can get that all done.”