Hamp brings business skills

POCAHONTAS – Jeremy Hamp never dragged a hoseline into a burning building or bandaged a bleeding accident victim.

He has, however, worked extensively with the public, dealt with all levels of government and managed budgets in the $9 million to $10 million range.

Those are the skills he’s using to make Pocahontas County a safer place.

Hamp, a Pocahontas native, began serving as the county’s emergency management director and 911 coordinator on Feb. 20.

Protecting people and places through advance planning is his mission, Hamp said.

”It’s really about preparing the citizens,” he said. ”It’s really about preparing with the emergency response teams.”

Preparing the citizens, he said, involves teaching them what to do in case of a natural or manmade disaster.

Preparing the emergency response teams, which include law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical personnel, involves making sure they have the equipment and training needed to do their jobs, he said.

Hamp took the county position after about six years in the insurance industry and he is quite frank about the fact that he has what he calls ”zero emergency response background.” Hands-on experience as a police officer, firefighter or emergency medical technician isn’t needed to be an effective emergency management director, he said.

”I’m not the boots on the ground kicking down the door type of thing,” Hamp said.

”As emergency management agency director it’s more about do we have the resources, how do we get those resources, how do we pool resources with other communities,” he said. ”I don’t need to be an expert in fire and emergency medical service. Those experts already exist.”

Hamp said he got interested in the job because it provided an opportunity to perform a public service for the community in which he grew up.

Since he started on the job, he’s spent a lot of time training. Hamp said he must pass 18 courses, most of which can be completed online.

He’s also planned and participated in several exercises intended to test a community’s ability to respond to a crisis.

Hamp has made the rounds to introduce himself to the personnel of every emergency response unit in Pocahontas County.

He leads the Community Emergency Response Team, a group of nine volunteers which assists other agencies. The unit is responsible for a mobile command post unit. Hamp said they move the unit to emergency scenes and set it up.

Serving as 911 coordinator is part of his job. In that role, he oversees the budget for the emergency dispatching operation.

Hamp said in about two years Pocahontas County will make a roughly $125,000 investment in its 911 system which, among other things, will allow it to accept text messages.

This summer, Hamp and members of the Community Emergency Response Team will participate in parades and community festivals throughout Pocahontas County to raise public awareness of the emergency management mission.

Hamp graduated from Pocahontas Community Senior High School. He earned an associate’s degree from Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.

From 2004 to 2006, he lived in Colorado, where he worked in the mortgage industry and as a salesman. In 2006, he began working for Nationwide Insurance, first in Des Moines and later in Lincoln, Neb. He returned to Pocahontas last year.

He and his wife, Sara, have one daughter.