The Maine Emergency Management County Director's Council named Searsport Emergency Management Director Almon "Bud" Rivers as its Emergency Manager of the Year for 2013.

This annual award, which was presented at the Maine Preparedness Conference on April 22, goes to one EM director from across the state and is awarded on the criteria that the recipient:

"1. Made an outstanding contribution to emergency management in 2013 and; 2. …managed, created or facilitated significant programs in or projects within their area of responsibility that resulted in, or has has the potential to result in savings of life, injury or property from the impact of disasters or emergencies."

Rivers was nominated by Waldo County EMA Director Dale Rowley for a host of reasons including his extraordinary time commitment. That commitment actually led to Rivers being one hour late for the meeting at which he won the award because he had been at a fire call the night before.

"This year alone Bud has attended 12 exercises, 10 training courses and nine local EM director's meetings," Rowley stated in his nomination letter.

Rowley also highlighted the work Rivers did serving the town during the DCP LPG tank application process and his work taking over leadership of the County Decon Strike Team.

"He did not let politics or emotion enter into his decisions and activities [regarding DCP's application]," Rowley stated. "His superior understanding of the science and engineering of the proposal and its risks and benefits was sounds and fair."

Rivers is no stranger to risk and benefit analysis, having spent four decades of his professional career working in the nuclear power plants and hazardous chemical facilities.

"I once told one of my bosses this is something I'd do if no one is paying me," Rivers said. "Now I am."

Including all the exercises and time spent working on the towns' emergency preparedness plans, Rivers estimates he has volunteered more than 700 hours in the last year. One of his main focuses has been to increase public education and improve outreach.

One system Rivers has worked to initiate is an emergency alert phone system that sends a text message or voice mail in an emergency situation, which you can sign up for at the town website. Rivers says he also spends a lot of time in the schools to help teach the children about emergency preparedness.

In order to be prepared Rivers also evaluates the risks posed to the people of Searsport from the businesses and transportation routes within Searsport. Rivers says he has helped the town draw up plans in the event of disasters at Mack Point or for hazardous chemical leaks from trucks on Route 1.

"The hazards are already here," Rivers said. "Part of my job is getting the message across that I know what they are, I care and I can protect the people of Searsport."