After nearly a decade at the Delaware County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Deputy Director Sandy Mackey will be leaving the county office to take a similar position for the State of Ohio.
Mackey, who started full-time at the EMA in 2012 and eventually rose to be its deputy director in 2018, said she was always interested in the ways that emergency managers can assist the public, partner agencies, stakeholders and the private sector.
“I knew this was a good fit for me when I realized that I could combine my communication skills with my public safety skills to make a difference in this wonderful community,” Mackey said. “Emergency management is not as easily recognized as 911, EMS, fire, or law enforcement, but the work we do is vital.”
In her position at the EMA, Mackey performs a variety of jobs, including managing communications during extreme weather events and keeping the public informed about other safety issues throughout the year.
Mackey said what she is most proud of during her time at the EMA is the annual EMA Donate a Fan Drive, where county agencies and organizations collect donations of box fans during summer months to help county residents who cannot afford them.
“I started this program in 2012 after realizing there was no such program locally,” Mackey said. “The drive has been very successful in achieving its goal of providing relief to residents who cannot purchase a box fan. This program allows residents to have a fan in their homes at no cost to them.”
Mackey said the program showcases the good relationships between agencies in the county and the giving nature of the community.
“A great part of this program is the coordination and collaboration with our fire and EMS partners allowing their stations to be used as donation drop-offs for fans,” Mackey said. “Once the word got out, the residents of Delaware County wasted no time donating hundreds of new box fans to the program. The generosity of the community continues to be humbling. Having a fan to help beat the heat in the summer could potentially save a life, and this quickly became a team effort.”
Mackey said she’s also proud of the Delaware County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) upgrade project, which involved teaming up with students and staff at the Delaware Area Career Center to replace outdated furniture and update technology in the space at the county building that is used as a command center in the event of an emergency.
“This allows for better situational awareness for EOC/EMA staff monitoring daily and during activations,” Mackey said. “Delaware Area Career Center cybersecurity instructor Eli Cochran and his students were a driving force behind the technology update. They used this project to gain real-world experience in creating an audio-visual matrix, coding, creating documentation, spec’ing equipment, and providing quotes. It was a great project that will benefit EMA, our response partners, the community, and local jurisdictions by allowing better situational awareness. It will also be helpful for trainings.”
Mackey said other highlights of her time with the EMA have been working with the community, attending fire department open houses, managing the EMA’s social media accounts, giving weather presentations, and working with the EMA’s partner agencies like 911, law enforcement, fire departments and EMS.
“Lastly, I am proud of the personal accomplishments I have achieved that benefit the EMA office and the community,” Mackey said. “I am an Ohio certified emergency manager (OCEM), a hazmat technician, public information officer, planner and grant writer. These are skills that I use every day to better the community that I serve.”
Friday will be Mackey’s final day with Delaware County before moving to a position as the public affairs program manager for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.
“I’m looking forward to managing public affairs for Ohio EMA and supporting its important mission,” Mackey said. “I am excited to promote safety and awareness statewide, help provide Ohioans with safety and preparedness information, and to represent the Ohio EMA.”
Mackey said she enjoyed her time at the Delaware County EMA because “every day is different.”
“I share an on-call rotation with my director, Sean Miller,” Mackey said. “We work a 24/7, week on, week off schedule for hazardous materials response, severe weather response, and other incidents that may occur after hours that need our attention. … In the world of emergency management, much like a box of chocolates, to quote Forrest Gump, ‘You never know what you’re gonna get.’”
Miller praised the work Mackey has done at the EMA.
“Since her first day with the office, Sandy has had a very strong work ethic and a desire to learn all aspects of the evolving emergency management field,” Miller said. “She has held various roles over the years, and her career progressed as she moved through the ranks. This progression is a result of her drive and accomplishments.”
Miller said he believes Mackey will “undoubtedly be a great fit” at the Ohio EMA and wished her the best.
“Emergency management is an enterprise larger than any one agency, and the relationship between Ohio EMA and local EMAs is of vital importance,” Miller said. “From my perspective as a local EMA director, Ohio EMA continues to be a strong partner with and advocate for local emergency management programs. I believe Sandy’s transition to this new role underscores this point as she will bring a local government perspective to her new duties. This perspective will not only help county EMAs, but also the public as Ohio looks to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.”
Mackey said she’ll miss working in the county but is excited for her new job.
“Over the years, I have worked with many exceptional people, learned new skills, and strengthened my existing skills,” Mackey said. “It has been a privilege to work with my EMA team. This has been an excellent opportunity, and while I will miss my colleagues, I am excited about the next chapter!”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.