La Plata County Emergency Management Coordinator Tom McNamara received a state award Tuesday for his work in the past year.
McNamara modestly accepted his award for Southwest Colorado Emergency Manager of the Year, an accolade awarded by the Colorado Emergency Management Association and presented at a county commission meeting.
“One thing I’ve said since I’ve been here: If we do our job, we don’t have to do anything,” McNamara said, referring to emergency preparedness.
McNamara joined the county’s emergency management team nine years ago.
His achievements since the August 2015 Gold King Mine spill include working with other entities to install a real-time emergency warning system to alert agencies if a mishap occurs that threatens the Animas River’s water quality.
Emergency Management Director Butch Knowlton said McNamara consistently brings his attention to more efficient ways to prepare for the worst.
“Tom learns about our vulnerabilities and comes up with solutions,” Knowlton said. “Our job is all about process, and Tom is really good at fitting into the process. The best knowledge we gained was going through Gold King, and there was a whole lot of process with that, if you remember.”
The county’s new drone program also was McNamara’s brainchild. He coordinates the program, which allows emergency management, search -and-rescue teams, law enforcement agencies and other county departments to use the devices for county business. The drones are expected to streamline rescue and emergency missions.
“What Tom does is largely behind-the-scenes,” Assistant County Manager Joanne Spina said. “Most folks don’t know the extraordinary work that goes on behind the scenes, which is all the preparation for maybe that one time a year when you might have to pull out all the stops. Tom is a master at that.”