Many weeks ago, in early June, just before hurricane season was about to begin, Anne Arundel County’s Emergency Management Director, Preeti Emrick, sat down to talk a little about how her work.
Emrick grew up in Michigan and is a lawyer by education. But in 2008 she got her start in the field of emergency management in 2008 at University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security.
“I was able to work with a lot of local jurisdictions in the state of emergency management projects on health related public health related projects,” she said. “After about nine years there, I went to the University of Maryland Capital Region health, which is a hospital system and was their corporate emergency manager for two and a half years, so I oversaw three hospitals facilities, coordinating their emergency preparedness initiatives, the planning training, exercises.”
Today she works as the county’s go-to person for preparing for any and all public emergencies. Much of her work involves planning and meetings.
“I was looking for a higher position within government,” she said. “I wanted to kind of go back to my roots. Anne Arundel County’s great. Having worked in this county before it has a strong emergency management program. Coming back here was great to work with my partner and to continue the good work we’re doing.”
Emrick was looking at what responding to a hurricane disaster would look like during a time of pandemic, when she did the interview.
“So making sure we have coordination with the stakeholders developing the plan,” she said.
The director said she and her staff had been putting in long hours since the emergency had been declared. Back then she had expected a second wave of the coronavirus might arrive in the fall, and they were planning for it. Today reports indicate, the first wave of the virus is seeing a resurgence locally.
She said the long hours aren’t unusual for emergency management agencies, particularly those with smaller staffs. She said there were peaks and valleys in the workload due to managing the changing plans for opening and closing community elements. Managing a hurricane emergency was much different than dealing with an ongoing pandemic, she noted.
“With the hurricane, it's, it could cause a lot of damage, but it's almost like once and done, you're gonna moves on,” she said. “This (pandemic) is a continuation for many, many months and a resurgence so it's really tested our planning capabilities or resource capabilities, and how we could better address that.”
For her though, the long hours and demands of the work were all worth it.
“It does take up a lot of time, but it's, it's something really worthwhile--helping the citizens,” Emrick said. “We're doing a lot of great work and there's a lot of coordination work going here. Knowing that we're doing our best to keep the citizens of Anne Arundel County safe, helping them with their economic needs, their food needs, their services needs, that really is what it is about. So even the long hours, they don't matter.”