This article is part of a series focusing on individuals who dedicate their careers to serving the public in honor of Public Service Recognition Week.
Daniel Hahn has been the Emergency Management Plans Chief with Santa Rosa County in Florida for 10 years. He formerly served in the U.S. Army, retiring as an E-8. Daniel also teaches emergency and disaster management courses at American Military University.
We asked Daniel why he chose a career in emergency management and how his work helps others.
What inspired you to pursue this career?
I decided to get into emergency management because I wanted some excitement after my military career. I had a sense that anything with the word “emergency” in it must have occasional bouts of excitement, and I did not want to quit excitement cold turkey.
What do you wish you knew before going into emergency management?
I came into this field blind, so there was a lot I wish I’d known before I entered it. Right away, I found out about a long list of acronyms that put the military to shame. Understanding the sometimes unique language of emergency management would have been beneficial up front.
What is the most satisfying and/or enjoyable part of your career?
The best part of my job is interacting with the public. As the Plans Chief for a large county in Florida, I made it my specialty to focus on community resilience. To make a community more resilient to disaster—especially in a place that regularly experiences natural disasters—emergency managers must work to develop strong public-private partnerships.
Working with the public and the business community requires a considerable amount of outreach. The best part of my job is figuring out how to communicate with the public and inform them about what we’re doing. We need their help so our community can be ready for any type of disaster.
Is there a moment or incident that you reflect upon fondly as being highly representative of why you pursued this career in the first place?
I really enjoy being able to use my knowledge and share it with others. I love to present at conferences, because I want to share my experiences and knowledge as widely as possible.
Being the keynote speaker at the Kansas Emergency Management Association conference is something I consider a fond moment in my career. Speaking in Israel was not bad, either.
The pinnacle of why I pursued this career is probably best captured by when I became a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM). It makes me think of my favorite Tom Jones song, “Thunderball”: “He acts while other men just talk/He looks at this world and wants it all.”
What impact does your work have on American citizens?
The work that my agency does improves community resilience in this county, but it also has a larger impact beyond our immediate area. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many different areas and present at multiple conferences around the nation, sharing lessons learned and best practices from our agency. I have even traveled to Canada and Israel to give presentations, which really shows that emergency management is holistic and practically borderless.
What advice would you give others pursuing a similar career?
For those pursuing a career in emergency management, I would encourage them to apply for everything. It can be hard to get started in this field because it’s highly competitive, but do not give up.
Apply for different positions and be willing to relocate, so you can get the necessary experience. Contact me for advice or encouragement in your emergency management careers. I share everything and you can find me on LinkedIn.
For more information about Daniel’s career in emergency management, read some of his recent articles: