Shawnee fire, police chiefs work as emergency managers for county during COVID-19

Elisabeth Slay
Shawnee Fire Chief was made an Emergency Management Director for the city and Pottawatomie County amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pottawatomie County Commissioners recognized Shawnee Fire Chief Rodney Foster and Police Chief Mason Wilson for their work as Emergency Management Directors for the city and county during their regular meeting Monday, May 4.

Foster, who was in attendance at the Commissioners meeting, was recognized for his efforts to keep people safe amid COVID-19 and he recognized Wilson, who was not at the meeting for his efforts as well.

According to Foster, for the last several weeks he has worked hard to provide the needed information and safety gear to protect people from spreading COVID-19.

"Mainly we decided to help the city as much as we could and the county as well," Foster said. "So really my job has mostly been trying to educate the citizens on what we can do to not get COVID-19."

Foster said he has worked closely with the Oklahoma Emergency Management to provide Pott. County first responders the necessary equipment to protect themselves.

"One of my main focuses is just to make sure everybody has what they need to protect their firefighters (and) their police officers," Foster said. "That has expanded to the jail and the Sheriff's Office."

In addition to the pandemic, Foster said he and Wilson have also been working on other emergency situations such as severe weather.

"Wilson has been instrumental in the new storm sirens we're installing...We're trying to make sure that infrastructure is brought up to the newest equipment," Foster said.

The firefighter also said he and Wilson are working on a notification system to inform people about any potential emergencies.

"We're just trying to provide the stuff that people need. We're learning our duties kind of on the fly...We try to do all we can to provide whatever help we can," Foster said.

Foster said though this is a challenging situation to manage, he's doing his best and hopes to continue helping the city and the county through this difficult time.

"I just want to make sure the people of Pottawatomie County are safe and we're doing everything we can," Foster said.

The fire chief said while the world is on the way to recovery, he's focused on handling the response to COVID-19 and getting through the uncertainty of the pandemic.