While he may by Mendham and Chester Patch's Person of the Year and hailed by many for his efforts during Hurricane Sandy, Mendham Township Coordinator of the Office of Emergency Management Evan Thomas is not super human.
And with that in mind the Mendham Township Committee voted to appoint Brookside Engine Company firefighter Nick Witczak to the deputy coordinator position at their meeting last week.
Witczak himself was in attendance initially, but had to leave on a fire call before the vote approving him was cast. But being on the go is nothing new for the Deputy OEM coordinator, who has been a member of the Brookside Engine Company since he was 16.
"I got involved with the Brookside Engine Co. 1 as a junior member. I had many friends through my family who are members of the department and so they encouraged me to join," Witczak said. "I had always been around the emergency services field as my father is a police officer in Morris Township, so joining a fire department felt very normal me."
According to Witczak, the members of the fire company were great at acclimating him and credits them as a great organization. And it was through them, that he found the first aid squad.
"I had attended the fire academy during high school and the Mendham Township First Aid Squad took note of me being very active with the fire department and asked if I would go to EMT school as well and become a member of the Mendham Township First Aid Squad," Witczak said. "Just under a year later I finished EMT school and began volunteering with another great organization, the First Aid Squad."
Witczak has been with the fire department for over five years and the first aid squad for three.
"Both have led me to currently pursue my bachelors degree at the University of New Haven in fire science administration," Witczak said. "Its been a a life changing and amazing experience thus far."
And it was only a matter of time before the service minded Witczak crossed paths with the Office of Emergency Management.
"I have known Coordinator Evan "Buzzy" Thomas since I first joined as a member of the Brookside Engine Co. 1 and I lent him some of my energy to help with emergency management," Witczak said. "I had received my CERT team certification during my freshman year of college in Connecticut at the University of New Haven which helped me gain some more insight into the workings of the service of emergency management and FEMA and CERT team operations."
According to Witczak he was able to put that knowledge to good use when Hurricane Irene and the October snow storm struck back in 2011.
"I was able to help with some planning aspects and few operational aspects," Witczak said. "After that I became much more involved with him and OEM especially doing preplanning of any potential disasters i.e. blizzards, severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, long term power outages, etc. In the start of the fall we had begun working towards appointing me as a deputy coordinator for emergency management, and thats when Hurricane Sandy hit and things took off from there."
As Deputy Coordinator Witczak hopes he can get residents to volunteer for the CERT team as well as sign up for updates via the Everbridge
Emergency Notification and the OEM's Facebook Page and Twitter feed.
"I am hoping that we can bolster and expand some of our OEM assets and resources as we continue to grow and help our fellow residents," Wiczak said. "Its critical that we are all on the same page. If we are successful in our planning we will be successful in our recovery and operations."