New emergency management coordinator ready to serve Cass County

Published 8:44 am Wednesday, September 8, 2021

CASSOPOLIS — A new face in Cass County government is working to ensure the county and its residents are prepared for anything that might come their way.

Kayla Malcom, 26, of Elkhart, was recently hired as the emergency management coordinator for Cass County. Working under the direction of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office, the emergency manager provides essential functions including directing and coordinating the development of

the Cass County Emergency Action Guidelines, identifying agencies included in the disaster

relief force, and coordinating the recruitment, appointment and utilization of volunteer personnel and ensuring the program meets requirements for state and federal aid.

“An emergency manager helps prepare the community for any hazard in the county,” she said. “Specific to Cass County would be severe weather and right now, COVID. We prepare for events like that, respond to events like that, help our law enforcement and first responders, and coordinate with them the best ways to prepare, respond and recover.”

Malcom not only works with local law and enforcement and first responders, she also works with agencies such as the American Red Cross to aid families and individuals affected by disasters such as fire and other emergencies.

Malcom has been in her position for just over a month. In that time, she has been working with outgoing emergency manager David Smith to learn the tricks of the trade and make connections in Cass County.

“It’s been awesome to have him here with me, and he has been very supportive,” Malcom said. “Things are going really well so far.”

Prior to taking her new position, Malcom earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Most recently, she has worked as a paralegal.

She said an internship as an emergency management assistant on the east side of the state solidified her interest in the field, so when the job became available in Cass County, she knew she had to take it.

“I have family in law enforcement, so I was always kind of drawn to this field, the criminal justice and public administration world,” she said. “Emergency management kind of encompassed all these fields I was interested in — law enforcement, fire, EMS, Red Cross — all these different agencies. [As emergency manager], you are kind of the connection between police and fire and dispatch and Red Cross and all these different agencies and hospitals. You are kind of working with everyone, and that really intrigued me.”

Now that she is getting settled into her new position, Malcom said she is happy to be in Cass County.

“It’s good, and it’s different,” she said. “I think it’s a great step in my career. Everyone I’ve met so far has been great.”

As she continues in her position, Malcom said she wants to help raise awareness in the county about the need to prepare for emergency situations. As September is National Preparedness Month, she said this month is a great time to start.

“The most important thing is to have a conversation with your family, like where are you going to evacuate in a fire?” Malcom said. “Even just small conversations like that can make a big difference in case of an emergency.”