Medford’s Emergency Management Coordinator is leaving, what’s next?

Medford, Ore. — Larry Masterman is Medford’s first full-time emergency management coordinator. He’s been in the position for nearly 4 years. But next week, he’s leaving his post, and the city has yet to fill the role. Tonight, we’re learning what that means for the city’s emergency preparedness efforts.

“I got to really start with a blank slate and build a program, and that’s been really exciting.”

As Medford Emergency Management Coordinator, Larry Masterman reflects on his time in Medford, he’s thankful.

“This is the most collaborative region I’ve ever worked in,” he says.

Masterman has been instrumental in ensuring that the city, and it’s residents are prepared for whatever hazard may come its way.

“We had the snowstorms in January that almost broke a record, we’ve had high temperatures, we’ve had the smoky weather,” Masterman says, “and course the big one, the item that’s most likely to give us hundreds or thousands  of  causalities is that big Cascadia earthquake.”

“His function is critical,” Medford resident, and Professor Emeritus Eric Dittmer says of Masterman, adding that a gap in the position he currently holds could be detrimental.

“What if we had a real emergency?,” Dittmer asks, “And a lot of people are saying when we have a real emergency maybe in our lifetime; how would you react effectively without an emergency management program?”

That’s a scenario Medford Fire-Rescue Chief Brian Fish acknowledges could become a reality for the city any minute of any day.

“Obviously the headlines over the last few weeks around the country [show] things happen,” Chief Fish says, “and so we want to be prepared, and we want to make sure we get the right person for the position and to do that we’ve got to make sure we understand it really well.”

Fish says right now they’re learning all they can before posting the job, and the future of the position will ultimately be decided by he and the city manager.

As for Masterman he says it’s his hope that it happens sooner rather than later.

“If we’re really lucky 99.99% of our work is before the emergency,” Masterman says, “it’s training our people training our community. To continue those, if we don’t get that position filled soon, some of that will lose it’s momentum and we may not be as well prepared in February as we were in October.”

There is funding in the current budget for the position. And, while Chief Fish couldn’t provide a timeline for how soon it will be filled, he says he’s putting together a plan that he will present to the city manager soon. In the interim, Medford-Fire Rescue will take over any immediate responsibilities.

Interested in learning which hazards Medford is most at risk for? Click HERE.

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