Salute Our Heroes: Riley County Emergency Management has a special person getting recognized for work that may be unseen

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 10:35 PM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - A Riley County Emergency Management Official has done a lot for the department that didn’t go unseen.

Laurie Harrison has been working as the assistant director for Riley County Emergency Management since 1999. She started as a 911 operator and just felt like a natural fit for her to move on to the public safety field.

“I love the emergency preparedness part of it just helping people prepare for those disasters and training and so that’s why I got into it,” said Harrison.

Laurie helps with preparing for disasters as well as mitigating, responding, and recovering from disasters.

“We run a lot of exercises within the counties simulation drills working with the plans emergency operations plans hazard mitigation plans so a lot of just stuff that people don’t see so it’s really an honor that people are recognizing working with emergency management,” said Harrison.

Harrison has been active in the Kansas Emergency Management Association since 2002 and has held numerous positions. Currently, as treasurer, she just received the 2023 KEMA Presidents Choice Award.

“I’m very honored for people to recognize my work because like I say a lot of what I do is never seen by many people. We’ve worked really hard in our office to make sure that we meet all the requirements for federal guidelines and state guidelines and so just seeing that that work is being honored,” said Harrison.

Director of Emergency Management Russel Stukey said having Laurie around has been instrumental for the department.

“Fortunate to have Laurie on our staff she’s been a long-time employee of Riley County and she has lots of institutional knowledge and what has worked in the past and what hasn’t worked in the past. She is not shy and she says what she thinks and you don’t have to worry about her holding anything back and so you know when you ask her a question you’re going to get the full answer,” said Stukey.

Since Harrison took this role there is one thing she loves more than anything else.

“So what I’ve really enjoyed most is mentoring and as I’ve been in this position for 24 years I’ve seen several people come and go through my department and its an honor to let those people grow and then move on and do their thing within the emergency management fields,” said Harrison.

Harrison has also received the Emergency Management Professional of the Year award and the Life Member award from KEMA.