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Barton Emergency Management graduate reflects on pandemic
barton Teri Smith feature
Teri Smith is the organizational emergency preparedness and safety manager at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. She earned an associate degree in emergency management from Barton Community College in 2012.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started making its way across the world, Organizational Emergency Preparedness and Safety Manager Teri Smith of Lawrence Memorial Hospital was ready to handle the situation. While she was a seasoned Emergency Manager with years of experience, Smith had also decided to get her associate degree in emergency management from Barton Community College in 2012 and earned her bachelor’s in emergency management from Kansas Wesleyan in 2014 to help bolster her knowledge base. The combination of her education and her experience proved very valuable during the pandemic. 

Smith coordinated a detailed plan for keeping her community safe and was able to participate in collaborative thinking that produced a framework for safety and support for her specific situation and others tasked with protecting the general public.

“My education made sure I was up-to-date on the latest developments in the field, and my experience and expertise as an emergency manager has been profoundly valuable during the pandemic,” she said. 

Director of Hazardous Materials, Emergency Management, and Occupational Safety and Health Lindsay Holmes said the program at Barton provides students access to professionals that have navigated emergency situations.

“Our students have the luxury of learning from instructors currently working in the field of Emergency Management,” she said. “They have the opportunity to discuss real-world experiences and learn from instructors that have their finger on the pulse of current emergency management procedures.  The program is guided by an advisory committee that is made of experts from across the region.”

Smith said the need for emergency managers is growing. 

“Hazards and vulnerabilities for people are ever-changing over time and disasters are increasing in not only frequency but also intensity,” she said. 

The ability to help others is also a driving factor in her choice to be an emergency manager. 

“It’s a very satisfying career,” she said. “I have the opportunity to promote safer, less vulnerable communities, protect lives, property and the environment.” 

Barton’s program is designed to provide training and formal education for those entering the emergency management field as well as those currently in the field who require additional training and education. A large percentage of these professionals serve as part-time emergency managers with their full-time position being law enforcement, emergency medical services. The course is also ideal for professionals that lack formal education and training in this field. A student may receive credit for work experience, military experience, military schools and civilian education. 

Smith said it’s essential for people pursuing a career in Emergency management to be as well-rounded as possible. 

“It’s important for them to not only get their education but to volunteer for emergency organizations if they can, find a mentor, participate in internships and obtain other certifications from other state and national associations in emergency management,” she said. “Be flexible and don’t hesitate to do this. It’s very rewarding.” 

For more information, contact Director of Hazardous Materials, Emergency Management, and Occupational Safety and Health Lindsay Holmes via email at holmesl@bartonccc.eduor telephone, 866-452-3724, or go to emanagement.bartonccc.edu