Routt tabs FEMA veteran to lead county’s emergency operations
February 13, 2017
Steamboat Springs — Routt County commissioners are expected on Tuesday to approve the hiring of David "Mo" DeMorat, a former U.S. Marine officer, and more recently, a planning manager with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as the county's new emergency operations director.
DeMorat replaces former long-time county director of emergency management Bob Struble, who retired in October 2016.
DeMorat confirmed Monday that his role with FEMA's Lessons Learned/Continuous Improvement Program involved reaching out to smaller agencies at the state and local levels to evaluate the effectiveness of emergency-planning exercises. County Manager Tom Sullivan said multilayered planning exercises are something local first responders are hungry for.
"So many times, at the national exercise program, we would come up with an aggressive exercise that might start with a table top exercise,' DeMorat said Monday. "We might do that in one county and then move forward with an operations-based exercise and include a functional exercise in which you have key personnel planning and activating emergency operations. There were no boots on the ground, but we were testing communications and decision making."
The next step, he said, would be a full-scale exercise, "as close to the real thing as you can get," including a decision as to whether or not an emergency management team should deploy.
Sullivan said a recurring theme that emerged among 14 local emergency officials from law enforcement, Yampa Valley Regional Airport and county staff, who participated in the process of interviewing candidates, was the desire for more training in advance of full-blown mock disaster operations here.
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DeMorat said he and his family are eager to return to Colorado from Washington, D.C., where he currently works. During his 23 years in the Marine Corps, DeMorat was stationed at NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs. He led planning efforts for the 2007 wildfires in Southern California as well as planning for the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
"I retired from (Norad), and for us, it's like coming back home. My family and I love Colorado," he said. We're looking, "for a little less hectic lifestyle compared to D.C. We average three to 3 1/2 hours in traffic every day."
With the position of emergency communication manager also turning over late last year, Sullivan sought and obtained approval from the Board of Commissioners to restructure the two departments into one Emergency Operations Department. DeMorat will now oversee emergency communications, led by Jason Nettles, and report to Assistant County Manager Dan Weinheimer.
DeMorat's educational background includes a bachelor's degree in operations management and a master’s in business administration.
Sullivan was expected to ask the Board of Commissioners, based on DeMorat's level of experience, to bring him in at $104,749, the fifth step of the county salary scale for his position. His salary could be increased after six months if performance goals are met.