EMA Director Martin keeps Pike County 'Storm-Ready'
Joshua Martin ensures that Pike County is prepared for emergency situations through his role as Emergency Management Agency (EMA) director. One of his most important tasks has been getting the county Storm Ready Certified through the National Weather Service.
“As of Dec. 16, 2018, Pike County has officially became a Storm Ready County and will continue to move forward with making it as safe as possible during severe weather,” Martin told West Central Reporter.
A native of Pleasant Hill and resident of Nebo, Martin became Pike County EMA director in 2015 after holding various roles in the field. He has been a firefighter and captain for the Pleasant Hill Fire Department, assistant fire chief for the Spring Creek Fire Department, EMT-Basic and then paramedic for Adams County Ambulance, and EMT-Basic and then paramedic for Pike County Ambulance.
“I first got into the fire service and EMS because of my dad, who spent 35-plus years on the fire department and 20-plus years as an EMT,” Martin said. “With my experiences on the fire department, I began getting involved in things like ground search and rescue, severe weather-spotting, water rescue, flood responses, etcetera. As time went on, my passion for those grew stronger and at one point before my wife and kids came along, that was all I did.”
In addition to being EMA director for Pike County, Martin has also been ambulance director since 2017. He said that while working in emergency management can be overwhelming at times, his overall experience has been profoundly rewarding.
“I have an excellent support system in my county board, along with my Region 6 IEMA coordinator,” Martin said. “The experience as a whole has made my relationships that I had in the past with other public safety offices stronger, and I have worked to try to build those relationships between departments. My favorite part about the position is that you just never know what may happen next. I have always been an adrenaline junkie, as my history in Fire/EMS may imply.”
Martin recalls an evening in December 2018 when he was getting ready to go deer hunting and he heard a dispatcher tell a deputy on the radio that there were reports of a tornado headed toward Nebo.
“With severe weather being not just part of my job but truly a very strong passion of mine, I left the house to seek out this supposed tornado,” he said. “I encountered the tornado approximately three miles from my house and followed [it] for approximately 30 miles, while communicating with Pike County 911, activating outdoor warning sirens, dispatching fire department, etcetera.”
Martin looks at his achievements working for Pike County as a team effort.
“A big accomplishment that I had a hand in for Pike County was the implementation of a county-wide phone alert system,” Martin said. “Prior to that we had no way of mass notification for things outside of Severe Weather. Pike County EMA along with the Pike County Sheriff's Department joined together and purchased the Hyper-Reach Notification system. We haven't done much on the system as far as normal everyday notification, but it does a great job for immediate emergencies and notification automatically.”
Martin hopes to continue to make Pike County and the surrounding area safer, more resilient and at the ready in the event of an emergency.
“Another goal of mine has been to get a group of volunteers established for Pike County EMA to help offset some of the struggles as far as response goes,” Martin said. “It can be very difficult to be in multiple places at once, which is what I have found is needed frequently during flooding.”
Martin graduated from Pleasant Hill High School and went on to complete the John Wood Community College Fire Science Program and the John Wood Community College Paramedic Program. He is currently enrolled in the St. Louis University Emergency Management Program.
During his spare time, which Martin says has been “few and far between” since taking on the position of ambulance director, he enjoys hunting, camping and spending time with his family.