Emergency manager retires after nearly two decades

EMERGENCY MANAGER RETIRES — Warren County Emergency Management Director Mike Daniels retired from his position on Dec. 23. Daniels spent 18 years helping local emergency agencies plan for and respond to a variety of emergency scenarios, including 2020’s pandemic response. Adam Rollins photo.
Adam Rollins
Staff Writer

The Warren County government said farewell in December to an employee who has been working for nearly two decades to help keep county residents safe and healthy in times of emergency.

Emergency Management Director Mike Daniels served his last day Dec. 23 and has now entered retirement. He served in the position for 18 years, starting in December 2002. Balancing duties as response planner, inter-agency communicator, training coordinator, and funding grant writer, Daniels has aided the response to a number of weather- and health-related emergencies during his time.

“I worked to help the county be in the position to respond to any kind of disaster or emergency, by developing emergency response plans ... and that entails working with the first response agencies and the cities so that we’re all on the same page and working together in the event we would have an emergency,” Daniels explained.

The core of that job, he said, is being an effective communicator. Especially in a developing situation, making sure agencies are working together fluidly and quickly responding to new needs is vital, Daniels said. He described his role as being the “resource office” — someone who makes sure the front line responders have the information and tools they need to work effectively.

“What I’ve liked most is working with the citizens and the various response agencies, especially the health department. During this COVID response, we’ve been working very closely together,” Daniels said. Organizing training exercises with other agencies, from tabletop planning for train derailments to a real-world simulation of a bus crash, has been a regular part of the job as well. 

Trying to keep those agencies pulling in the same direction during actual emergencies could also sometimes be a challenge of the job, Daniels added.

Major emergencies Daniels has assisted with include multiple virus outbreaks, damaging floods and severe winter storms.

“The worst would have been back in 2016, we had the ice storm that came through, and I-70 became a parking lot. 911 was receiving a deluge of calls from people who were stranded on the highway, who were running low on fuel,” Daniels recalled. “We activated the Emergency Operations Center. We brought people in manning the radios, answering (non-emergency) phone calls 911 was transferring in.”

Warren County Health Department Administrator Ruth Walters said Daniels has been a close collaborator in the pandemic response this year, as well as in years past. Daniels helped coordinate resources and response to the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak as well, Walters said.

“As in all real-life events — ice storms, shelter set ups, H1N1, tornadoes, floods, and this year’s pandemic response, he has gone above and beyond for the community and residents of Warren County to ensure their well-being and safety,” Walters commented.

Presiding County Commissioner Joe Gildehaus said Daniels’ many years of experience will be hard to replace. He commented that Daniels had a large role in shaping the county’s emergency response capabilities and equipment, and that one of Daniels’ strongest assets was his ability to secure funding for emergency preparedness.

“His grant work is very good. ... He kept track of that to make sure he got dollars back to the county and emergency management,” Gildehaus complimented.

The county is currently seeking a replacement for Daniels with the help of a committee of emergency agency heads, Gildehaus said. They hope to have a candidate selected by early February. Until then, Sheriff Kevin Harrison is the acting emergency management director.

“We want to congratulate Mike and wish him the best in his retirement,” Gildehaus said.


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