State Emergency Communications

Attendees joined state and federal emergency management and homeland security officials for a discussion on policy and technology developments related to preparing for and ensuring emergency communications to coordinate disaster response.

2012 National Conference

State Emergency Communications
December 2, 2012

Attendees joined state and federal emergency management and homeland security officials for a discussion on policy and technology developments related to preparing for and ensuring emergency communications to coordinate disaster response.

Speakers and Presentations:

 Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler, Kansas 

Chris Essid, Director, Office of Emergency Communications, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

  Download the Presentation: "Supporting Statewide Emergency Communications" in PDF (without audio) or as a Video (with audio)

 Brigadier General John Heltzel, Director, Kentucky Division of Emergency Management and Deputy Commander, Kentucky National Guard 

  John MaddenDirector, Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and President, National Emergency Management Association 

Speaker Biographies:

Senate Majority Leader Jay Emler
Sen. Emler has represented the 35th District in central Kansas since 2001. For more than 30 years, he and his wife Lorraine have lived in rural McPherson County where he practices law and she is a registered nurse. Together, they operate a small family farm.

In January 2011, Emler was elected Senate Majority Leader. During his time in the Senate, Sen. Emler has served as chairman of both Ways & Means and Utilities. He currently is chair of Confirmation Oversight and Vice Chair of the Committee on Kansas Security. He additionally serves as a member of the committees for Commerce, Utilities and Ways & Means.

Sen. Emler also served as a member of Gov. Brownback’s transition team. He currently serves on the Governor’s Council on Homeland Security and as a member of the National Council on State Legislatures’ Task Force on Homeland Security.

Prior to starting a law practice in McPherson, Sen. Emler worked as Vice President and General Counsel for Kansas Cellular. He also served 16 years as municipal judge for Lindsborg. Emler is a graduate of Bethany College where he earned a bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate. He later earned a law degree from the University of Denver College of Law. The Senator has also earned Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification through Hutchinson Community College, and he graduated in 2008 from the Naval Postgraduate School with a master’s degree in Homeland Security and Defense.

Chris Essid
Essid serves as the director of the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) within the Department of Homeland Security. He is responsible for ensuring the nation achieves interoperable emergency communications at all levels of government. He provides recommendations to the DHS secretary, National Security Council, administration and Congress in the area of emergency interoperable voice and data communications as well as leads efforts to implement the initiatives and achieve goals contained in the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP). The NECP serves as the policy framework to providing strategic direction at the national level.

Essid coordinates with the National Communications System director and Federal Emergency Management Administration administrator to ensure OEC supports response efforts when Emergency Support Function 2 (ESF-2) is activated to restore communications. He also coordinates with state homeland security advisors, elected officials and the public safety community to ensure DHS and OEC are providing services and developing policy to meet the needs of our stakeholders. 

Brigadier General John Heltzel
In July 2008, Brig. Gen. Heltzel accepted the appointment by Gov. Steve Beshear to direct the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management.  Within his capacity as director, Gen. Heltzel is responsible for coordinating all resources of state and federal government in the event of natural or manmade disasters and emergencies throughout the commonwealth.

Brigadier General John W. Heltzel received his Military Commission in the Kentucky National Guard from Eastern Kentucky University in 1979 graduating with a degree in Broadcast Communications. Gen. Heltzel served as one of the original state emergency operations center duty officers and was instrumental in the establishment of the initial Disaster and Emergency Services Operations Response Procedures Guide.

In 1982, Gen. Heltzel was selected to be one of 20 state employees to participate in a pilot program to train systems analysts to design and develop information systems for the commonwealth. In 1984 Gen. Heltzel accepted a full time position working for the Kentucky National Guard as the lead officer in charge of all Automation, Communications, Visual Information and Records Management. During his tenure with the National Guard, Kentucky became recognized as a leader in Information Technology and Communications Systems. General Heltzel has been influential in the development of several Automated Applications that have been nationally adopted.

Gen. Heltzel has served in leadership roles throughout his career; serving as commander at the battery, battalion and regimental levels. In 2001, Gen. Heltzel was selected by the Army and the National Guard Bureau as one of two officers to attend Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Gen. Heltzel completed course work at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and MIT where he received a Masters Level Certificate in Internal Security Studies. In 2002 Gen. Heltzel completed his studies in Advanced Information Management earning his Certification as a Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) from the National Defense University at Fort McNair. He left active full time service as the Department of Military Affairs chief information officer in 2006 to accept a position in the Kentucky National Guard as a General Officer.

In 2007, Gen. Heltzel was selected to serve as the Deputy Commander of Kentucky’s Joint Force Headquarters where he is directly responsible for the training of the Kentucky National Guard in support of the Homeland Security Mission. 

John Madden
John Madden has served his state and his country for more than 40 years. First appointed by Gov. Sarah Palin in January 2007, Mr. Madden continues under Gov. Sean Parnell as the director of the Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management for the state of Alaska. This followed a year as the deputy director for Homeland Security within the division. His state service follows a distinguished career in seven federal agencies.

Madden began his public service career at 17 with service in the U.S. Army, including 20 months in Vietnam. After his military service, he joined the U.S. civil service with the Department of the Navy. He worked in program and project management with the Naval Weapons Engineering Support Activity, Naval Electronic Systems Command, and the Joint (Navy/Air Force) Cruise Missile Project Office. After earning his degree in political science, he joined the Department of Energy as a program and policy analyst working on fossil fuels programs and alternative fuels.

In 1982, he elected to move to Alaska with the National Weather Service and supported its operations throughout Alaska. He next worked for the Alaskan Region of the Federal Aviation Administration as executive staff to the regional administrator. He also ensured continuity of operations for all FAA operations against all hazards. He supported FEMA in several exercises and served in several Disaster Field Offices, most notably in Puerto Rico and Florida in response to Hurricane Georges. He also served with the Transportation Security Administration as deputy federal security director for Anchorage International Airport and eight other Alaska airports.