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So you want my job? - Emergency Management

Posted: Thursday, Apr 18th, 2013

Editors Note: This is a new series of articles that will appear weekly, or biweekly, depending on availability. The stories will all be called “So you want my job,” and will feature someone and their profession. The purpose of the story is to give the reader an idea of what each person and their profession entails. It also allows people, such as students, to have a better idea of how a job actually works. This may help students get excited about professions and seek out the same, or similar, jobs. I hope you enjoy it, there will be many more. If you are, or know, a person that would like their profession to be profiled, please call the Redfield Press at 472-0822 and ask for Derek Keeling.

What is Emergency Management?

It’s a full time job of patience, uncertainty, and various challenges.

The technical definition states that: Emergency management is a public authority field, a group of professions, and an interdisciplinary research field that deals with the processes used to protect populations or organizations from the consequences of disasters, wars, and acts of terrorism.

In walks Larry Tebben, a man with a superhero sized stature and a knack for preparing for the disasters no one wants to happen.

Tebben has been a Spink County resident since the year 2000, when he moved here from Ledyard, Iowa. He worked for nine years as a South Dakota Developmental Center youth counselor. Tebben has also worked in the field of risk management, so when the Spink County Emergency Management position became available, Tebben jumped at the opportunity.

Tebben wanted to be the Spink County Emergency manager because of the challenges. He also notes that he had the skill set to match the job.

Tebben is required to take courses on Emergency Management directly from South Dakota Emergency Management. He also takes classes through the FEMA website. Tebben takes not only the required courses, but also other courses to further his knowledge, ensuring that he is prepared to handle any emergency that comes down the pike.

So how does one become an Emergency Manager?

According to Tebben, Emergency Management has become a course taught at the university level.

What does an Emergency Manager do?

This is a complicated question, with an even more complicated answer. In a nutshell, the Emergency Manager is a person who prepares an area, or county, for disasters and emergencies. Tebben acts as the man on ground zero, answering to local officials and reporting what is needed to higher agencies on the local, state, and federal level.

Tebben ensures that proper equipment is available in the event of catastrophe. His job is crucial in the event of a critical situation. Tebben handles every kind of emergency and disaster, from floods, tornados, fires, and more. If it’s an emergency, Tebben is on the case. For example, if someone’s house burns down, Tebben makes sure that the family receives help from agencies such as the Red Cross.

Tebben mentions that the best part of his job is, “being able to help the community to harden their ability to withstand disasters.”

As satisfying a job as Tebben has, he notes that it is not without sad moments. The worst part of the job, according to Tebben, is search and rescue, and personal home fires.

Being ready for an emergency means that at any moment you might be called in to help. Tebben is on-call. His family is used to the possibility of him leaving at a moment’s notice. The Tebben family is very busy in the community with volunteer work, sports, and other activities. Due to a flexible work schedule and vacation time Tebben is able to still do those family and community activities.

Tebben notes that the biggest misconception about his job is that he is the person who cancels school or issues travel restrictions. In truth these decisions are made by other officials. The Emergency Manager only makes recommendations.

One of the most memorable moments Tebben has had is when he was checking weather, as part of a severe storm. After he pulled over his pickup due to visibility, the straight line winds were bouncing his pick-up back on to the highway.

Tebben was reminded of how small Spink County is when he was attending a Floodplain Management Class in Maryland. A floodplain permit in large counties costs up to $10,000 or more and took months to get. When asked how much it costs in Spink County, Tebben chuckled and said, “$25 and is usually issued that afternoon.”

So is Tebben a superhero? Super? Probably not. A hero? To many, yes he is, although he doesn’t feel this way. Tebben feels that the real superheros are the police, the fire department, and the EMTs.

The Emergency Manager has a big part in keeping you and the community safe. So overall, Tebben is a superhero of sorts. A kind of day-to-day superhero that flies a tad bit more under the radar then say, Superman or your local firemen. So next time you see Mr. Tebben, thank him for his service and fine work.

For the complete article see the 04-10-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 04-10-2013 paper.

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