Tom Helmer has worn many hats in his 30 years with the Putnam County Sheriff's Department. He recently donned one more in service of the people of the county.
In addition to his duties as a captain for the Sheriff's Department, Helmer was recently named the Emergency Management Agency director by the Putnam County Commissioners.
Helmer has served on the EMA advisory board for more than 20 years and served as the board president for the past half decade. His experience made him an obvious choice for the commissioners.
"I think it's a very needed service for the county -- you have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best," Helmer said.
Kraig Kinney presented two finalists to the commissioners at their Nov. 7 meeting -- Helmer and Steve Walters of the Cloverdale Township Volunteer Fire Department.
The commissioners ultimately decided on a longtime county employee.
In his time with the Sheriff's Department, Helmer has served as a reserve, full-time deputy, sergeant, eight years as chief deputy and even four years as sheriff. He's been a captain for the last three years.
Helmer said there is no concern about the part-time EMA position conflicting with his other duties. In fact, applying was actually Sheriff Steve Fenwick's idea, he said.
"When the position came up the sheriff asked me if I'd be interested in it. At the time I wasn't even thinking about it," Helmer said. "As of right now, I'm the supervisor of the other supervisors. I've got enough faith in the rank and file to do their job when need be."
Given his background in both law enforcement and the EMA, Helmer gives his new department a nice mix of knowledge.
"If an emergency happens there need to be a representative of law enforcement inside the emergency operations center. I have that background where I know what's expected from different venues," Helmer said.
As EMA director, Helmer hopes to form and strengthen partnerships within the county so responders won't be scrambling for answers following a disaster.
He wants to make sure suitable shelter locations are designated and ready for an emergency. He emphasized the need for agreements with school corporations for transportation when needed.
"A lot of that is on file, but it needs to be updated," he said.
Additionally, Helmer wants to see agreements with private industry should heavy equipment or trucks be pressed into service.
In his capacity as EMA director, Helmer also wishes to remind residents of the availability of weather radio. The county EMA still has approximately 30 radios available.
Preference for the weather radios is given to residents of mobile homes.
For more information, contact the Putnam County EMA at 653-5727. Residents are reminded the EMA recently relocated from the Putnam County Courthouse Annex to office space at Putnam County Hospital.