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315 West Main St.
P.O. Box 7800
Tavares, Florida 32778

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For immediate release - May 18, 2005

Interim tag removed from Emergency Management director

TAVARES — Two days of hurricane training kicked off Tuesday for Lake County agencies and municipalities with a welcoming announcement as Jerry Smith was named full-time Director of the Lake County Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management Division.

Smith was acting interim director of the Division since last November when Butch Whitehead resigned from the position. Formerly the interagency resource coordinator for the Department of Public Safety, Smith was hired by Lake County in 2004.

A longtime resident of Lake County, Smith has more than 20 years of military experience with knowledge of nuclear, biological and chemical warfare. He is currently assigned as a reservist to the U.S. Air Force 45th Medical Group based at the Patrick Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach.

Previous work experience for Smith includes 15 years of working with emergency medical services as a paramedic supervisor, a paramedic administrator officer and a flight paramedic.

Gary Kaiser, Director of the Department of Public Safety, made the announcement during the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) hurricane training activity, which began Tuesday morning. He said the process of finding a replacement was not easy as more than 50 applications were received for the open position.

Replacing the venerable Whitehead will not be a simple task. Known for his cool demeanor, Whitehead led the Lake County EOC in effectively responding to the community’s needs during the hurricanes of Charley, Frances and Jeanne. His consistent performance earned him the nickname of “storm hero.”

Kaiser said out of the dozens of applicants, Smith has many of the same qualities, such as being an effective facilitator of the EOC mission and an excellent communicator to other County agencies and municipalities, which are critical to successful EOC operations.

“I am excited about the opportunity to work with the community to enhance our capabilities to respond to emergencies,” Smith said.


Contact information:
Christopher Patton
Communications Coordinator
Office: (352) 343-9609; Cell: (352) 455-0445

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