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From his familial roots in law enforcement to his experience leading regional emergency management teams, Kevin Guthrie embodies the idea of a humble civil servant. So much so, in fact, that when he was selected to lead the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM), it took days to track down the man who was simply referred to as “the local guy.”
Several years into leading the Division, Guthrie has settled into his role formulating the state’s response to natural and manmade disasters. From the Surfside condo collapse to the COVID-19 pandemic, Guthrie and FDEM lean on evolving technologies and the partnership of local, regional and state emergency response teams to coordinate responses in real time.
In this insightful conversation with SalterMitchell PR Founder and CEO April Salter, Guthrie shares how his experiences in law enforcement and local government led him to become the state’s top emergency response official.
Chris Cate: Welcome to the Fluent in Floridian podcast featuring the Sunshine State's brightest leaders talking about the issues most important to the people of Florida, and its millions of weekly visitors. In this episode, created by Salter Mitchell PR, our executive producer April Salter, the CEO of SalterMitchell PR, talks to Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie. In their conversation, they discuss Guthrie's background in law enforcement and his experience leading emergency response efforts at the local, regional, and state levels. Guthrie also shares about the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how technology is expediting Florida's disaster recovery. Enjoy the show.
April Salter: Well good morning, Kevin. It's such a pleasure to have you here today on Fluent in Floridian.
Kevin Guthrie: Thank you, April. I'm happy to be here. Thanks for inviting me.
April Salter: Sure, sure. So Kevin, you are one of the most interesting people in state government. You have one of the most interesting jobs, and I think a lot of people are just amazed at how much gets done in the department, and frankly, over the last four years, you've just had quite a run of it.
Kevin Guthrie: Yeah, well, as much as I'd like to take the credit for it, I do captain the ship, but there is absolutely no way we would be as successful as we are without the men and women that make up the division here. We brought in a really team mentality, trying to push people forward, make sure that they are delegated the proper authority and responsibility they need to get their job done, and really try to empower them to get the things done that they need to do. That's something that I think was probably missing from the division, at least from a local level, before I came here. I thought that that was missing, and certainly when I got here I discovered it was missing.
So we've been very, very successful in that vein over the last year, just simply empowering people and giving the necessary authorities and responsibilities and then standing behind them. I think that's another thing. Once you give your employees the ability to, and you empower them, you got to be able to stand behind them and say, "Yes, you made the right decision and I'm going to back you as like I should."
April Salter: So you started off as with a career in law enforcement. Talk a little bit about what that was like.
Kevin Guthrie: So I came out of high school, I graduated. Like most 17, 18 year olds, I had no clue what I wanted to do. I was being highly recruited. This was 1987, '88. I was being highly recruited to go into the military. I had... Especially US Navy was barking up my door. By the time I got to high school, I had some decent math and science scores. So I was being recruited to go into nuclear engineering, specifically probably subsurface warfare. So for those that do not want to know what I'm saying, Navy submarines is basically what I was being recruited into. That was the same time that movies like the Hunt for Red October came out and you see the Tom Clancy film and the Hunt for Red October and just the mere thought of being exposed to nuclear or radiation under the water, I was like, "I think I need to do something else."
So I enrolled in college, went to music... Or went to school for music education and I was there a semester and I went from loving music to hating music. And it was very interesting when music started to become what I was going to do for the rest of my life, and when I say I hated it was a fun anymore. It was a job and it took that something away. So my father was a police officer in Jacksonville, Florida. My grandfather on my mother's side was a volunteer fire chief and the Guthrie lineage going all the way back to even across the ditch over to Scotland, I have a lot of sheriffs, law enforcement, even one Supreme Court justice that worked for King James himself.
April Salter: Oh my goodness.
Kevin Guthrie: So that law-type thing was in my blood. So my father came and said, "Well, you've given college a try. Things are not working out there. Go to community college and oh, by the way, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is hiring people." So I went that direction, got hired by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and then worked there from 1990 until 2013, 23 year career there. I had enough time that I could run out almost about eight months of time. So I went obviously into emergency management. I will say the last... I did quite a few things, traffic Traffic Police Academy instructor, motorcycles. I did quite a bit of things, but it was my last eight years that really set me up for what I was doing here. And that was in about 2005 ish, I went to the emergency preparedness unit for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and decided that emergency preparedness was... I was actually in college or working on a master's degree in emergency management, homeland security.
And I was kind of picked to go into the emergency preparedness unit for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. It was created, I was the first person that ever worked in it. And now it's got quite a litany of individuals that have done very well in the emergency management arena and have gone out and done a great job for not only the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, but for emergency management in emergency management across... Not an organization, but the profession.
April Salter: So Kevin, you referenced in an earlier conversation that you were kind of plucked up and put into the chief of staff role at the Division of Emergency Management. How did that even come to pass?
Kevin Guthrie: Yeah, so that's a great question. And in 2017, Hurricane Irma hit the Keys and one of the things that the Division of Emergency Management here in Tallahassee is still dependent on is we're a small organization. So we depend a lot on what's referred to as mutual aid or the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which is state-to-state mutual aid. What ended up happening in Hurricane Irma, for those who recall Hurricane Irma, the last county it went over were was like Pasco-Hernando, Citrus, before it exited back out into the Gulf of Mexico. I was obviously in Pasco at the time as the assistant county administrator. We didn't have a whole lot of damage. We had a lot of vegetative debris. We got that picked up probably about five, six days and we were back on our feet. I got a phone call from the director at the time saying, "Hey, would you be willing to come up on mutual aid to the state EOC and help us out with the response?"
I said, "Absolutely, be delighted to," got it approved. So I did six weeks while up here helping out with technically the recovery side of the house. I got some of the recovery individuals at the time on the same page, kind of created an incident command structure for recovery and just what's our objective today? Let's work on that objective, get that solved, what's the next objective for tomorrow? And really brought, I would say, more process and leadership to that specific role than anything else. So a year goes by, and there is a individual here, the State of Emergency Response Team Chief, Leo Lishet, he was in that situation with a drop and whatnot that he had to exit and he had to leave because of Florida State statute. So I got a phone call saying, "Hey, would you consider coming up here?" And this was like September. "Would you consider coming up here for the lame duck session of Governor Rick Scott and take on the chief of staff role? We can't promise you anything in the next administration. We don't even know who the next governor's going to be."
And I said, "Well, that's a pretty tall ask. We're going to have to run that by the county commission and whatnot." So the chairman at the time and the county administrator discussed it and allowed me to take a leave of absence from the Pasco County Board of County Commission as an assistant county administrator. They held my position open for me so that if things didn't work out, I could come back to Pasco County. So I came here as the chief of staff in September of 2018 and filled in just waiting on the next administration to come in and take over. Funny story is we go through that entire time and right up until a couple of days before me, well actually not even a couple of days before me meeting you, after I had met you, April, I'm getting ready to pack up and go back to Pasco County because I have not heard anything from the administration.
I did an interview that I will say I don't think necessarily went well in my mind. When I left there, they said, "Well, we're looking for somebody else that could do blah, blah blah." So I was thinking, "I'm going back to Pasco County." So the Friday before inauguration Tuesday, I've got a U-Haul out here, a small U-Haul truck, and I pack it up my office, I'm packing. I've already packed up the executive apartment that I was in for the three months I was here and I'm getting ready to leave, but my phone rings and it's Shane Strum with Jared Moskowitz on the phone.
And I said, "Hey, how are you doing?" They said, "Hold for the governor." So the governor-elect got on the phone and said, "Hey, we want to officially offer you this position." I said, "Well, I've just got to ask one question." I said, "I was literally getting ready to leave the parking lot and head back to Pasco County to my house there," and the governor dropped the line, but Shane Shrum and Jared told me, "Yeah, you were not on anybody's organization chart. You were a fill-in staff and you weren't on anybody's organization chart by name." And they said, "We knew that we wanted to keep this local guy for the next administration, but-"
April Salter: Didn't know his name.
Kevin Guthrie: I was known as the local guy. So that's how that came to fruition. I ended up having to go back and sell my house at Pasco County with a realtor that I've known for years, and she got the house sold in about 30 days. And I moved up here to Tallahassee and that is how I came to that position. It's quite interesting story but it was temporary, obviously. I filled in for give or take about three months, maybe three and a half months, and then the governor and chief of staff, Shane Strum, asked me to take on the deputy director role here at the division.
April Salter: So you came into the picture as Hurricane Michael at the state level... Hurricane Michael hit October 10th, 2018. You were right there in that transition period. And you have had basically nonstop emergencies since then. And it's always a crazy job as emergency management director, but who would've ever thought a pandemic? Can you talk a little bit about maybe when you first began to realize that this was going to be kind of a defining event in all of our lives? Talk a little bit about that.
Kevin Guthrie: So we knew that something was happening and myself and my predecessor, we picked up the phone. If you recall, Oregon, Washington were the very first that were starting to see issues. And we picked up the phone and we called the, then I think it was the Washington director, and said, "If there's one thing that you can give advice to anybody else across the country, what is it you would do?" And he says, "Protect your nursing homes, protect your ALS, protect your hospitals. You've got to do everything within your power to protect those." So I remember myself and Jerry going down and talking to the governor about that. And the governor said, "Yeah," and out of that, and I'm not saying this was our idea by no means, but out of that birth the we're going to protect Florida's most vulnerable. So we saw the data that was coming out of the Northwest, we knew that that was going to be a problem because obviously we have so many ALS nursing homes and whatnot down here.
And it was because of the governor's leadership and the way that he went and wanted to protect those that were 65 and above. And then if you remember the tier approach that we took, we went down to 55 and above. We started with protecting that most vulnerable population. And I think that's probably what became the defining moment for Florida, within this microcosm, within the bigger global pandemic is the things... Yeah, sure. There was a lot of people that passed away and died as a result of that, my mother being one of them. But it's one of those things where that leadership and the way the governor came out and said, "Guys, we are going to do everything in our power. We're going to put our focus, we're going to put our money, we're going to put our own protecting those that cannot protect themselves."
And I think that really became a defining moment for Florida inside of that global pandemic. But at the same time, I remember the day that we were maybe two, three weeks into the response. And I just remember Dr. Rivkees at the time making a comment. He says, "We're going to be here for a long time. And I remember Jared Moscowitz-
April Salter: We won't be out by Christmas.
Kevin Guthrie: I remember Jared Moscowitz specifically asking a question, "Well doctor, what do you mean a long time to find a long time?" And he says, "I think we're going to be here for 18 months to two years." And I just remember looking around the room and our group, our senior leadership team, almost like the wind coming out of their sails. And I said, "Okay, well there's some things that we're going to have to do to," because at the time I was the state emergency response team chief and deputy director.
And I said, "All right, change the mentality from this is a sprint to this is a ultramarathon and we're going to have to rotate people through here. We're going to have to rotate people we've never rotated into the state EOC, but this is a good training time as well as a development time." I will say we are unlike any other organization in state government. Nobody comes to a job saying, "Hey, I want to work 84 hours a week and I want to work 507 days straight." Said no person ever as I continue to sit here and do this job, but it's certainly a mentality. We did lose a lot of people during that timeframe. When I say lose a lot of people, a lot of people came into the division and left the division during that time. Our average tenure here at the division is only about 18 months for any employee.
About 65% of our employees turn over eight every 18 months because of the demands that are put on them. And when I say that it's just... That's the nature of what we do. Disasters do not, whether it's a pandemic all the way to a CAT five hurricane, they do not stop and take weekends off. They don't stop at five o'clock in the afternoon and they do not take weekends off. So it takes a special person to work here at the division. And we've got a really good executive team here, a really good core leadership, senior leadership team that have been in place for a while now. I think it's the best senior leadership and executive core team that's ever been at the division. And I've been doing this, specifically emergency management, since '05. And I will say since '05, in my opinion, this is the best core leadership team that's been here.
April Salter:I think it's easy when you live in Florida to become a little bit complacent because the storm's going to hit the Keys. "Oh no, the storm's going to hit Daytona Beach. Oh no, it's going to hit." It's really hard as a Floridian to live with that sort of uncertainty all the time and to then take the necessary steps. What have you found to be the most effective way to educate people about actually taking action?
Kevin Guthrie: I struggle with this every year. Do you do more publications? Do you do more mass media? Do you do more social media? What is it you do? And the reason I get frustrated with this is we have the gamut of everything in Florida. I mean, we're working on stuff right now. For instance, Pine Island as an example. Pine Island gets their information from the Eagle, which is a weekly or biweekly paper that comes out. And that's how they get their news. That's how they know what to do. So we've taken out some ads and things like that on things to do in a recovery. Whereas you go to maybe an Orlando or Miami, if you're not doing everything on social media, you're going down the wrong path. And we've got everything in between. I remember in 2010, I responded with a group of people over to Hamilton County for an 500-year flood event that hit North Central Florida.
What was the number one way we communicated with people in that disaster? The church bulletin, because they were just in an area where there was no media coverage. They fell in that ring between Tallahassee, Valdosta and Jacksonville where nobody really cared that much about Hamilton County. And in Madison County, we had to get very, very creative. We did a lot of billboard. And when I say billboard, it's not actually billboards, it's more like traffic [inaudible 00:18:01] boil water notice. Sunday after that flood was Easter Sunday, everybody went to church. So we did pulpit-type stuff. So I say all that to say this, I think the most effective communication is going to be anytime that we can get real and personal with it, whether that's personal inside of Facebook Lives or video streams or something like that, things where people can see it, they can hear it. We get more senses involved in it, is what's going to keep people engaged.
That for an elderly communication or elderly group, 75, 80 or plus is probably going to be your mainstream news media at those 5:00, 5:30, 6:00 shows. I know my dad, he's 77, 78 years old now, but he watches News for Jax every single day, all day. So that is what [inaudible 00:18:54]. My mother-in-law and father-in-law down in Winter Haven, they watch Bay News nine all day every day. But that's that generation. We have to be able to adjust our communication set for all of those.
Chris Cate: The Fluent in Floridian podcast is brought to you by SalterMitchell PR, a communications consultancy focused on helping good causes win. We provide strategic insight and guidance to organizations seeking to make an impact in the nation's third most populous state. Learn more at smprflorida.com. Now back to SalterMitchell PR CEO April Salter's interview with Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie.
April Salter: And you're so right and kind of preaching our tune, which is when you try to communicate in Florida, we have so many different diverse populations from language, from backgrounds, from where they get their news, what's important to them, what the cultural values are. We're a very vibrant state. And Madison to Miami is just so different in how they need to be communicated with in order to take action. One of the things that has really fascinated me is the technology and the way things are changing so that we know we can gather more information, react more effectively. Are there any innovations that you're seeing that are really exciting to you?
Kevin Guthrie: Absolutely. And again, I could probably do a 40-hour show on this. So one of the things that I'm... I'm going to go back to 2005, '06 When I was with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. It's actually 2008. We had a tropical storm hit us, Tropical Storm Faye. Dumped a whole lot of rain on Florida and I was the guy that was responsible for starting the project worksheets for reimbursement of everything that we'd spent, millions of dollars [inaudible 00:20:47] sheriff's office, but I was the guy responsible for getting all that stuff together. And I realized for the first time ever, and I had been doing this now for three years, but for the first time ever I just realized that of all these incident command courses that I had been teaching over the last three years, there was not one form that actually collected the data that you needed to apply for reimbursement.
And I said, "That makes no sense." So we recreated a form inside of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and we just made it a simple Excel spreadsheet to where it would total time and total some mileage and things like that at the bottom of these sheets and somewhat started automating. And I said, "If I could ever get myself into a position where I can make a real effective change, I'm going to engage technology. I'm going to engage some innovation." Because I felt even back in '05, '08 that somebody had forgotten to bring emergency management along to the technology conversation. I will say this and I'll fast-forward so that we don't go into everything that we're doing here at the division, but over the last three years here at the division, we have engaged technology at a rate that's never been done before at the division.
When I got here, we used to do everything in pen and pen and pencil. The only thing that we really had automated, to be honest with you April, was our emails. I mean, everything else was just pen, paper, pencil. We put some stuff in LAS/PBS for our budget. And if you've worked with LAS/PBS, that is a very antiquated system to put your budgets into. But we started engaging technology, we started innovating the things we did, we started focusing on process improvements and process management. So let me fast-forward to today and just give you a example between Hurricane Michael four years ago and Hurricane Ian this year. Hurricane Michael, it took us well over 13 months to get to $500 million paid out. For Hurricane Ian, we paid out over $500 million in the first 100 days.
April Salter: It's so important to people as they're trying to recover, my goodness.
Kevin Guthrie: Right. And we did that through innovation and technology engagement. Now, when we do something in the field, we collect it digitally in the field, which fast forwards all of that pen and paper. We can do machine learning. We can look for anomalies, like did Kevin Guthrie work more than 24 hours in a given day at multiple different sites? These are things that we were having to comb by hand, but now our systems could just automatically flag, "Hey, here's a person that worked more than 16 hours in any one given day. Let's look at that person to make sure that that was there." Or, "This person worked in Mexico Beach and in Panama City for 16 hours on the same day, we know that's physically not possible."
So that helps decrease the claw backs down the road. So now we're not just getting it right from the beginning, we're also getting it right and not having somebody come back three, four years down the road and say, "Hey, I need that couple of hundred million dollars back from the [inaudible 00:23:53]." So we're engaging that technology to be better on the front end, to be faster on getting people their money, and it's certainly paying off and we see that now.
April Salter: Yeah. So Kevin, there's so many things we could talk about. You've touched on the pressures on an individual, and of course there's pressures on the family as well. How has this job affected your family? How do you balance that?
Kevin Guthrie: Yeah, it's very difficult. And I will say for my wife, I'm recently married. I actually got married during the Surfside event on a weekend. I had to leave Friday. Very, very quick story. Mayor Kava was like, "Kevin, you know, seem down today." And this was Tuesday of that week. And I said, "Well, mayor Kava, I've just got a lot on my mind personally." And she's like, "Well, what is that?" I said, "Well, I'm supposed to get married Saturday at two o'clock and we're in the middle of this." And I said, "I've got a very, very loving wife and understanding wife," I said, "but I don't want to push this wedding back because of what's going on. I want to make sure that I go through with this." And I'll tell you, Mayor Kava, she was very, very sweet. And she says, "Kevin," she says, "If we have to marry you on Miami Beach and I'm the one officiating it, I will do that for you."
So ultimately we didn't end up needing to do that. I left on Friday night, went up, got married Saturday, came back Saturday night back down to some-
April Salter: Oh my goodness.
Kevin Guthrie: But I'll say, and this just doesn't go with emergency management, maybe emergency management, especially with the longer term responses, but I would say any public safety official, it is very, very difficult to be in a relationship, to be the father, the son, the daughter. And I've been all of those things. I've been the stepfather to an 18-year old for the last three years. I've been the... I'm sorry, two years. I've been the son of a police officer, the grandson of a fire chief. I've been the husband. And it's very, very difficult to be in any of those as when you're involved in a relationship with a public safety official. I think that I've had people ask me in the past, "Why do you have to do that? Why can't somebody else? You're at the top of the food chain now, if you will. Why can't somebody else go and do that?"
Well, I believe that presence is a mission, ownership is a mission. And I am not going to ask any of the 180 or 198 permanent employees of the Florida Division of Emergency Management to give up their weekend and go out and work away from their family. And I'm not down there with them. So that's a personal thing for me. It's a lot of the leadership books and leaders that I've been around for my entire career that you've got to be there. You can't speak one thing when your mouth and then just go and do something else. You have to show leadership. You have to be there. You have to be present. And if you're not there, then you're not going to get men and women to follow you into that.
But it is very, very difficult. I'm very, very thankful. One of the things that when I started dating my now wife, I was already obviously in the vein of emergency management. I told her there was going to be days, weeks, and sometimes months that I may be gone. And she's very, very understanding. Does she want me to be at home? Yes. But I told her, I was very open with her about what might happen in the future and she understood it, and I just happened to be home this last weekend. And she's like, "I can't complain about you being gone and helping 21 and a half million people with their biggest problem that they're having. She said, "You told me it was going to be like this." And she's very, very supportive. My dad being a former law enforcement officer himself, he understands. My brother's a current law enforcement officer, he understands. So I've got a very, very understanding family.
April Salter: Kudos to your wife. She's as much of a public servant as you are, given everything that she's dealing with as well. So as you think back then, you've mentioned leadership a number of times, is there somebody in your career that you feel had a big influence on you that was a mentor and maybe still is?
Kevin Guthrie: Yeah, so there's a couple of people in that vein. And I will say this, probably one of the most influential people that has helped me with my leadership career actually came towards the end of my career, or... I say the end. When I got to Pasco County, Michelle Baker was the assistant county... I'm sorry, Michelle, if you hear this, she was the county administrator in Pasco County. She's the one that hired me for the job that I was hired there. But one of the things, she was very, very notorious for just having sit down chats, nothing about work, nothing at all. And she says, "If I was to ask Kevin Guthrie what made you the leader that you are today?" And I was like, "Well, I'm not really sure." And it made me start thinking. She says, "I want you to go back and think about that."
And then I came back to her a few weeks later and I said, "You know what? I went and did what you said. It started from my childhood about people that have influenced me to do the things that I do today." And she says, "Maybe you should consider writing a book about those individuals." And so I have started writing a book and I've got about 35 individuals that from past, and I say past, my mother's the first chapter in my book, but my very first little league baseball coach, Kevin Green, instilled some things in me about if you want it, you have to earn it. And that's the big thing that I took away from Kevin Green. And you go all the way through to just recently, Governor DeSantis has... I don't want people to think that he and I hang out on the weekends. We don't do that.
But one of the things that I've certainly noted about Governor DeSantis is that he is not afraid to take on a challenge. And I think as a leader, you have to be that leader that says, "I'm not afraid to take on a challenge." It may not be popular, it may not be what is politically correct, but challenges are worth taking on and making sure that we're doing what we're supposed to be doing. So throughout the course of that book, I've got high school teachers, college professors, government leaders, friends, absolutely friends, that are in this book that have helped guide and shape me into what I am today. And at the end of the day, if I had to sum up what I'm looking for in a leader is you've got to be, again, presence. You got to be there. You cannot lead and not be present. You got to be present.
Number two, it comes down to what I call the four Ps. You got to be focused on people, those people, and you need to know what your purpose is, that will drive performance. If you're invested in people, they know what their purpose is, what their organization's purpose is, what their personal purpose is, and what my purpose is in life, then that's going to drive their performance. Performance has to be done with the last P, and that's passion. You have to be passionate about what you do. If you're not passionate about what you do in life, go find something you're passionate about. Because if you're passionate about what you do, you'll never work a day in your life.
April Salter: Well those are great and I just can't wait to read the book. I bet it'll be terrific. So thank you for sharing that.
Kevin Guthrie: It's a process that's been about five, six years in the making, but we're going to get there eventually.
April Salter: Yeah, absolutely. Kevin, thank you so much for your time today. We always close out the show with four pretty straightforward questions here. What is your favorite place to visit when you do get downtime? Or what is the dream of going to visit?
Kevin Guthrie: Yeah, I've had quite a few places that I'm very fortunate to drive all over the state and I get to see a lot of Florida's pristine beauty, and I've been very fortunate to see that. I am a big fan of just getting off the beaten path. I think one of the favorite places that I've been to in Florida and I love to get to is Green Swamp in Eastern Pasco County. It's a preservation land and there's some RV hookups out there, and I just really enjoy getting away from it, probably because my cell phone doesn't work there. So that might be one of the biggest reasons I like going there. But it's certainly nice to be able to get away, get out into nature, and see what Florida still has to offer.
April Salter: That's awesome. How about your favorite sports team?
Kevin Guthrie: Well, that's got to be the Florida State Seminoles, of course, through thick and thin. You've got to be able to sit... Yeah, absolutely. You got to support them. Right now, the Jags are doing a pretty good job, and I've been with them since '96, so we'll see what happens if the Jaguars can beat Kansas City this weekend. But I doubt that they will. I have faith, but not a whole lot of faith there. But Florida State is definitely... I've stuck with them through thick and thin during the good, the bad, the ugly. And Coach Norvell's is doing a great job over there right now.
April Salter: Yes, he really is. It's been fun to watch the resurgence. We talked a little bit about leaders that you admire. What is an issue that you think deserves a little bit more attention than it's getting?
Kevin Guthrie: So in the vein of everything that we've talked about here, I would say emergency management in Florida has always been seen as the hurricane team. We have got to stop that mentality. Emergency management is a arm of public safety, and we've got to get to a point where we're treating it like public safety. And what I mean by that is sheriffs have a tendency to be funded at a higher level. Fire rescue departments tend to be funded at a higher level, but local emergency management agencies, specifically at the cities and counties and even at the state, are not funded as if they're a public safety agency. On your worst day in Florida or in your city, who are you going to call? You're going to call your local emergency manager to come and handle that situation and see it through to its completion. And we've got to get to a point where we start treating emergency management like public safety. And that's one of the things that I've taken on as a personal goal to try to change that narrative and make sure that we're funding emergency management at appropriate levels throughout the state.
April Salter: Great. Well, Kevin, thank you so much. I know you're very busy and you're doing a fantastic job for the state of Florida. I think all Floridians are grateful not just to you, but to all the people who work so hard on emergency management. Certainly this year we've seen in the last few years, we've just seen how important it is and we really appreciate it.
Kevin Guthrie: April, I appreciate you and I appreciate you helping us get the message out. Thank you.
April Salter: Great. Thanks so much.
Chris Cate: Thanks for listening to the Fluent in Floridian podcast. This show is executive produced by April Salter with additional support provided by Heidi Otway and the team at SalterMitchell PR. If you need help telling your Florida story, SalterMitchell PR has you covered by offering issues management, crisis communications, social media advocacy, and media relations assistance. You can learn more about SalterMitchell PR at smprflorida.com. You can also learn more about the Fluent in Floridian podcast and listen to every episode of the show at fluentinfloridian.com or by searching for the show using your favorite podcast app. Have a great day.
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