Hamilton County is looking to hire an executive director of emergency management after Tom Sivak resigned from the position on Jan. 15. Sivak took a job working for emergency management for the City of Chicago.
“My wife’s family is there,” he said. “I’m excited to go up and serve the residents there. I’m happy to serve whether it is in a community or organization.”
Sivak’s job responsibilities include administering, maintaining and developing procedures for use before, during and after disasters occurring within the county. In his two and a half years at the helm, he has faced several natural disasters including the April 2013 flooding, tornadoes and the polar vortex of 2014. Sivak said each has provided the emergency operations center with a baseline.
“It gives the department an opportunity to build that threshold,” he said. “We didn’t activate a lot, but we can build off of that when we are engaged.”
In addition to having a better understanding of when to activate the emergency operations center, Sivak said the county has focused more on planning 12 and 24 hours out.
“We’ve seen disasters and unfortunate events that have helped us grow stronger,” he said. “It’s hard because there are a lot more things that have to continue to be built upon, like the private-public partnership and strategic planning.”
Sivak said he is proud of how the public, private and nonprofit sectors have come together for emergencies.
“Schools are more engaged than ever before, non-profits are more engaged, there’s more engagement with elected officials and transparency,” he said.
The county is doing a national search to find Sivak’s replacement.
“I hope they build off that foundation and continue to grow,” he said. “We’re stronger than where we were two and a half years ago but we cannot be complacent.”