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Missouri disaster agency head gets full-time appointment

Missouri disaster agency head gets full-time appointment

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JEFFERSON CITY — A key player in Missouri’s ongoing fight against the coronavirus has been named the director of the State Emergency Management Agency.

In an announcement Wednesday, Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten named James Remillard as director of the department. He had served as interim chief since the April retirement of former director Ron Walker.

“As Missouri has faced an unprecedented public health and emergency management crisis in 2020, Jim Remillard’s vast experience, strong leadership, and calm demeanor have been essential to both SEMA’s outstanding responsiveness and the work we’ve done across state government,” Gov. Mike Parson said.

SEMA, housed under DPS, is tasked with preparing for, responding to and recovering from all emergencies — from natural disasters to potential cybersecurity events to other potential catastrophes

Remillard, 56, a former captain in the Missouri State Highway Patrol, has worked to double the agency’s medical response team from 163 members to more than 440.

That effort has resulted in the team staffing over 200 medical missions and 240 logistical missions, including working at a temporary field hospital that was set up in a Florissant hotel early on in the pandemic.

Under his direction, SEMA has ordered more than $62 million worth of personal protective equipment, as well as shipping nine rounds of PPE to emergency responders, the agency said.

The department also has shipped more than 8.6 million cloth masks and more than 233,000 rapid antigen tests to Missouri elementary and secondary schools.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Jim Remillard has been providing critically important leadership on everything from acquiring and distributing PPE and vastly expanding the Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team to working directly with vulnerable populations to support their needs,” Karsten said.

During his patrol career, Remillard coordinated response to disasters with local police, fire, EMS and emergency managers. His responsibilities included developing a statewide Patrol Hazardous Exposure Control Plan and responding to flooding and severe storms, including the 2011 Joplin tornado.

Remillard, a native of Washington, Missouri, retired from the Patrol in 2019 and joined SEMA as deputy director on June 1, 2019.

Walker spent more than 40 years with the Department of Public Safety as a member of the highway patrol before moving to SEMA in 2014. He was named director of the agency in 2018.

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