Jeffers impressed by county’s current level of preparedness

Keith Jeffers

Photo by Rick Nichols
Keith Jeffers in his office at the so-called “Ambulance Barn” in Oskaloosa.


by Rick Nichols
It didn’t take long for California native Keith Jeffers, hired Sept. 21 to replace Mike Baxter as the Emergency Management director for Jefferson County, to give the diverse operation he will be overseeing the proverbial “thumbs up.”
“It’s very exciting to come into a county as prepared as this one is,” Jeffers told the paper last Thursday afternoon during an interview in his office in Oskaloosa. “It looks like it’s got a lot of resources and capability available and ready to go.”
Raised in Orange County, Calif., Jeffers, 53, has been in the emergency management profession for the past seven years. From April of 2008 until September of 2012, he was Bourbon County’s director of Emergency Management and in that capacity “deployed to several local disasters,” according to biographical information made available to the paper for publication.
It was during that same period of time that Jeffers also found himself temporarily serving as a Deputy Branch Director for Critical Infrastructure with the State of Louisiana’s Emergency Operations Center following the arrival of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike (2008), then as an Incident Management Team Planning Section Chief in the wake of flooding along the Missouri River in 2011.
During his years in Bourbon County, Jeffers served as vice chairman of the Southeast Kansas Regional Homeland Security Council. He was the chairman of the council’s Planning, Geographic Information System and Grants committees and the co-manager of the IMT Committee.
Prior to being hired as Baxter’s successor, Jeffers was a Training and Exercises Specialist for the Kansas Division of Emergency Management for three years. He was based in Salina, the home of Crisis City, while with the KDEM.
According to the agency’s website, “Crisis City is a multi-use, fully functional training complex for local, state, and federal responders, Emergency Management professionals, public and private industry safety professionals, and military operations in support of civil authorities.” The facility opened in October of 2009.
Jeffers told the paper that his top priority at this point is making sure all of the county’s Emergency Management plans have been updated as need be before they’re due to be reviewed by the appropriate outside agencies. He also revealed that “major exercises” that will involve the general public are in the works, but he didn’t offer any details. These training-related activities won’t be held until sometime next year, he said.
Jeffers appears eager to do everything in his power to provide the county’s volunteer firefighters, ambulance service personnel and law enforcement officers with whatever equipment and learning opportunities they need to be as successful as possible in the performance of their often-demanding duties. “I’m here to support the existing emergency responders,” he remarked.
Jeffers is both a Kansas Certified Emergency Manager and a Master Exercise Practitioner. He earned the latter title by successfully completing the MEP program offered by FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute. The program, according to the aforementioned biographical information, consists of a series of three courses “focusing on advanced exercise design, conduct and evaluation practices in each phase of the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program.”
Candidates for MEP certification are assigned to an Exercise Planning Team and then “challenged to demonstrate their expertise at all levels of exercise design and conduct through in-class and take-home proficiency demonstrations,” drawing upon lessons learned through on-the-job experiences in the process.
After graduating from high school in 1980, Jeffers joined the Navy and was in the service for six years. He served as a Submarine Sonar Supervisor Petty Officer First Class and qualified for the duty of Supply Officer while on board the U.S.S. William H. Bates, a fast attack nuclear submarine. He was assigned to the sub for four years, seeing action during the 1982 Lebanon War.
Jeffers’ resume also includes a three-year stint as office manager for the Linn County Extension Service and stops in Santa Ana, Calif., where he was a Subdivision and Relief Title Officer for First American Title Insurance, and Pasadena, Calif., where he was a Technical Writer and Quality Assurance Auditor for DataTape Inc. DataTape produced black box recorders.
For 10 years, Jeffers was the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operations Officer for the Scottish Rite Masons in Fort Scott.
Along with his wife, Liz, Jeffers owned and operated Jeffers Electronics in Blue Mound and Playpen Daycare in Fort Scott.
Mrs. Jeffers, a native of Junction City, currently provides home health care in Salina, but she was an Emergency Medical Technician-Intermediate at one time.
The couple have two sons, Kyle, 22, and Graecin, 10. Kyle lives in Monument, Colo., where he is pursuing a career as a physical therapist. Graecin is involved in 4-H and will be moving to Jefferson County with his parents in the near future. The family enjoys raising peacocks, chickens and turkeys, so they are looking for a place to live that comes with a few acres.
Away from work, Jeffers, a former 4-H leader, finds pleasure in gardening, cooking, photography and birding.

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