9.3 OK-First: 20 Years of Partnership with Oklahoma's Public Safety Community

Thursday, 14 January 2016: 12:00 AM
Room 255/257 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Matthew R. Butzer, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Norman, OK; and J. Hocker, C. A. Fiebrich, and G. Kitch

OK-First: 20 Years of Partnership with Oklahoma's Public Safety Community

Matthew Butzer, James Hocker, and Chris Fiebrich Oklahoma Climatological Survey/Oklahoma Mesonet

Gayland Kitch City of Moore, Oklahoma

Since its inception in 1996, the Oklahoma Mesonet's OK-First outreach program has been a key weather information and training resource for Oklahoma's public safety community. Over that time more than one thousand public safety officials have successfully completed more than 250 OK-First classes and applied concepts learned in those classes to countless high impact weather events. With the program turning 20 years old in 2016, it presents a wonderful opportunity to look back and reflect on the program and its impact on making Oklahoma more WeatherReady.

Among OK-First's more than 500 active participants includes Mr. Gayland Kitch, emergency management director for the City of Moore, Oklahoma and OK-First participant dating back to 1997. Since becoming a part of the program and over the last 15-20 years Gayland's community has been impacted by countless severe weather events and more violent tornadoes than perhaps any other community on earth. An interview with Gayland focusing on his community's use of OK-First will be conducted and key points from the interview will be presented.

The presentation will continue with an overview of the 20-year history of OK-First. What began in 1996 as a program specifically for Oklahoma emergency managers became a program that serves any Oklahoma official that relies upon critical weather information to keep their jurisdiction safe – such as law enforcement officials, firefighters, health officials, tribal nations, schools, non-profit disaster relief organizations, and so on. The keys and challenges of successfully running an educational outreach and data provision program will be discussed

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