A question and answer interview with Parish of Ascension Director of the Office of Homeland Security, Rick Webre.
How did you become interested in your chosen career?
Hurricane Katrina. I was still on active duty in the Army when Katrina hit but I had sent my family home to Ascension Parish ahead of me before I retired. When I came home to check on my family I saw all of the activity at Lamar Dixon and the surrounding area. That sold me. Emergency management is somewhat different than my law enforcement-military background but the systems used to manage it are similar.
What do you enjoy most about your position, and what do you enjoy least?
I enjoy facing new challenges and there are a lot of them. When I have to develop a concept, obtain approval for execution and funding, bid it, and coordinate with contractors to meet milestones and objectives on a public safety project is what I enjoy most. Also, the parish president provides me with the needed resources an assets to accomplish my objectives. That makes my job easier and rewarding. What I enjoy least is that during an emergency there is always critically constrained resources. All resources have to be prioritized and leadership must be advised of this so they can make sound decisions. It’s tough to do and sometimes the decisions aren’t popular.
What does a typical day consist of?
There is not really a typical day. There are cyclical milestones that have to be accomplished throughout the year. These are planned for and prepare the office for incidents that the parish is subject to, such as a hurricane, winter storm or flooding.
Is there a specific achievement that you are the most proud of?
Yes, my staff. They are professional and always seek self-development. Two of them have recently been awarded Louisiana Emergency Management credentials and have completed the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director’s Course. I’m proud of them.
Any advice for someone wishing to follow in your footsteps?
Yes, if you are just out of high school take as many online courses from the Emergency Management Institute as you can. They are free and will familiarize you with the systems and processes used to manage emergencies at the federal, state and local levels of government. Volunteer at your local fire department. This will give you experience operating on a live incident scene and you can receive really good training. Many colleges, universities and Vo-Techs are offering credentials in Homeland Security and Emergency Management.