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Interim emergency management leaders named in Dawson County
Lucas Ray
DCFES Lt. Lucas Ray was appointed as Dawson County's Deputy EMA Director last Thursday. - photo by Julia Hansen

Dawson County now has people to fulfill key emergency management agency roles after the Board of Commissioners’ Sept. 1 meetings.  

This story continues below. 

Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services Lt. Lucas Ray was appointed as the county’s deputy EMA director Thursday. Ray’s appointment follows the confirmation of interim DCFES chief Jason Dooley for the interim EMA director spot. 

Ray told DCN that he was surprised to be named the deputy EMA director and had to go back and watch the online meeting to hear for himself. 

“I hope to keep building on what Lanier [Swafford] and Billy [Thurmond] have started,” Ray said, referring to the county’s previous EMA leadership. 

“I hope to keep the citizens' trust. I hope that they trust me to make a fair judgment on the decisions I need to make at the [given] time,” Ray added. 

County Manager David Headley told the board that filling the EMA director position was key to ensuring that “any matching funds for a declared disaster are not lost.” 

In the event of a disaster, Ray would be able to assume EMA duties and let Dooley focus on fire and emergency services responsibilities. 

Ray, a 29-year veteran of DCFES, started as a volunteer at the old Station 1, which was located at the old jail. He has worked as a full-time firefighter for 19 years and has his emergency management certification for 14 years. Now, he handles logistics-related matters for DCFES. 

Ray has worked disasters ranging from Hurricane Katrina to multiple snowstorms. When training for such disasters, as well as emergencies like school shootings, Ray said one EMA goal is “to prevent downtime.”

That means working with Dawson County Schools, the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and DCFES to decide which personnel to contact and when, such as when it comes to deciding whether to keep schools open or shut them down, he said. 

Tools like forecasts from the National Weather Services are critical in comparing the weather predicted versus what Ray and his colleagues see on the ground and then determining how to appropriately respond.

“Pre-planning is everything,” Ray said. “If you pre-plan, you know what you’re going into as you go into it.”