Parish OEP Director receives top state award

Staff reports
Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Rick Webre is shown holding the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association’s “President’s Award 2011.” Webre received LEPA’s highest award during the recent Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association Conference held in New Orleans. The Association presented the award to Webre for writing the curriculum and certifying examination for a new Statewide Emergency Manager Training Program.

Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Rick Webre recently received the President’s Award 2011, which is the highest award given by the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association (LEPA).

Webre received the award in May during the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association Conference held in New Orleans. The President’s Award is given to an individual in the statewide emergency management industry for providing outstanding service to the state of Louisiana and to the local community.

“We’re very proud of Rick and are glad he’s part of our team,” said Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez. “Congratulations go to him on winning another award.”

Webre recently wrote the curriculum and certifying examination for a new Statewide Emergency Manager Training Program. He serves on the board of directors for LEPA and also chairs their training committee. The 90-day program combines training for the Louisiana Emergency Manager’s (LEM) curriculum, and for the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) Command College.

“What we did was merge the curriculum between GOSEP’s command college and LEPA’s LEM,” Webre said. “So now we accept each other’s credits. It’s a merged curriculum where you go through the command college and the LEM basic simultaneously. So when you’re done with the program you get two credentials. You get credentials from the GOSEP Command College and you get the LEM.”

Previously, emergency managers had to have two years of experience to get certified by LEPA, Webre said.

“So instead of submitting documentation that you’ve got certain training, you actually have to go through the 90-day program to get the credentials.”

Webre’s LEM curriculum consists of two phases, one online and the other a classroom phase. He said by completing the courses, 19 hours of college credit would be accrued.

“I noticed there was no basic credentialing body in the state that says that these are the basic things or critical tasks that you need to know to be an emergency manager,” Webre said. “And to be able to advise your parish president or your boss on what you need to do, what are the emergency management laws and the doctrine and regulations that you have to follow?”

Webre said he wrote and designed the curriculum for someone that was new to emergency management, but needed to get up to speed quickly. He also said those already in the field that were emergency managers or directors, could get readily available training for their certifications.

“You can still get the two-year certification after you’ve been in the seat for a while,” Webre said. “But prior to this, you had to be in the seat and you had to have so much experience and contributions to the profession. It just took you forever. If you’ve never had one of these jobs, you couldn’t get the training.”

Webre credits his time served in the military for realizing a need for this curriculum.

“When I was in the military, you had to go through training to get certain credentials before they allowed you to move into a higher position,” Webre said. “There’s nothing worse than being in this position without a background in emergency management and getting hit with an incident. That was the impetus behind this new type of training.

“There are critical things such as debris removal, the things that you need to keep your fingers on during a hurricane or any incident and this gets you up to speed. This is a way that you can get ramped up pretty quick just to get the basic knowledge that you need to function as an emergency manager.”