WRN Ambassador Recognition - Johnson County (KS) Emergency Management

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Michelle Lammers
  1. What is the mission of your organization?
    Our mission is to create a safer, less vulnerable community with a greater capacity to cope with hazards and disasters
  2. What has your organization done to promote a Weather Ready Nation? (i.e. what did your WFO recognize your for?)
    Our emergency management department has been continually developing a very close partnership with the NWS in Pleasant Hill, from our designation as their first StormReady site in 2000, to our recent collaboration on the WRN Ambassador initiative. After being designated as an Ambassador, we helped identify other organizations and businesses within our county that we thought would also be a good fit for the program, and both set up and attended Ambassador recruitment meetings along with NWS personnel. We also work to promote weather-readiness and preparedness throughout the year, and just this year hosted a human behavior and public warnings workshop, a FEMA Ready Business severe wind/tornado workshop, and several weather safety/preparedness talks throughout the county.

  3. What does being an Ambassador mean to you?
    To us, being an Ambassador means being innovative with weather preparedness. While severe weather safety has always been a focus for our department, there are also always new and potentially better ways to reach the public and help them prepare for disasters. Since becoming an Ambassador, we’ve become increasingly interested in social science and how it can help improve our messaging and policies, which was in part fueled by our participation in the hazard simplification workshop, Dr. Mileti’s human behavior and public warnings workshop, and our participation in the annual Tornado Summit in Oklahoma City. It also means building and maintaining a strong partnership and involvement with the NWS, and learning how we can work together in ways that are mutually beneficial to the county, the NWS, and the public. Recently, we’ve done this through combined social media campaigns, joint outreach efforts during National Preparedness Month and Severe Weather Awareness week, and collaborative projects like a combined severe weather and communications functional exercise.

  4. What are your goals for the next year concerning preparedness?
    Moving forward, we’d like to continue building on the projects and foundations that we’ve laid over the last few years. Through a project called JoCo72, we’re encouraging county residents to prepare their families for 72 hours without public assistance, in case a major disaster does impact the area. We’ll also work to expand our social media presence by continuing to participate in preparedness campaigns, by creating a database of and then posting “just-in-time” informational graphics prior to severe weather. In addition, we plan to remain highly involved with the NWS and will work to expand this year’s joint functional exercise to involve multiple agencies, organizations, and jurisdictions.