Green new emergency management director for Finney County

Stephen Green has spent the majority of his life in Florida, but now he lives in Garden City as the new Finney County Emergency Management director.

Born in Alabama, Green moved to Florida at a young age because his mother worked for NASA.

He was a "space brat," Green said.

"Like a lot of us in that area we migrated from other areas because our parents were associated with the space program."

Green, 61, graduated from Rockledge High School in 1976. Following high school he took a six-week course to become a certified fire fighter for the state of Florida.

After getting certified, Green returned to Rockledge and started with the Rockledge Fire Department as a fire fighter at 18 years old.

He worked there for eight years, progressing to a lieutenant, became an EMT and was certified as a paramedic.

Wanting to work for a larger department that "provided advanced life support opportunities so I could build my skill set as a paramedic," Green then started working in Seminole County in central Florida.

"I worked there for a couple of years as a fire fighter paramedic, gained a ton of experience working at real busy stations," he said. "They were a very dynamic fire department, very ahead of their time, so it was a great opportunity."

After a few years in Seminole County, Green was approached by a private entity at Kennedy Space Center to work in their emergency services as a fire fighter paramedic.

This was right after the Challenger accident, Green said. The entity was looking to expand its scope of rescue operations.

The job was a multi-dimensional fire department that provided emergency response for the space center and surrounding areas.

They also provided assistance to hazardous operations for space shuttle components such as maintenance, recovery, launch, landing and astronaut rescue.

"From a fire fighter paramedic I advanced up to a captain and a battalion chief," he said. "About 10 years into it we consolidated not just from the Kennedy Space Center, but also from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station."

From there the job expanded and they provided even more services, Green said. On top of providing support to the space center they were performing fire suppression and rescue and advance life support for 25,000 to 30,000 people, and provided support to a military and a government airport and a military sea port.

"You learned an incredible amount," Green said.

After 20 years there, Green was approached by Chevron, an oil company, to go overseas and build an emergency response structure and crisis management team in Bangladesh.

In addition to building the response structure, Green built the curriculum at the company’s fire training center in Bangladesh.

Green’s next project was in China, also with Chevron, where he was the lead safety in commissioning a safety plan for the crisis management team.

"I built the training requirements ... and started developing some emergency management components," he said.

Afterwards Green returned to Florida. He thought he was going to retire, but realized he wasn’t ready.

"I just had too much going on, thought I could really add something to an organization and had the opportunity to come here and interview for this position," he said. "It was a pretty dynamic process, the county put a lot into it to pick the right candidate and I was fortunate enough to get it."

Green said he’s excited for the opportunity to be in Finney County and Garden City.

"I think we have a real window of opportunity here to really build on the legacy and foundation of the county and the emergency management and safety entities in the world," he said.

Green said one of his first-year goals is to create a safety culture.

"Our focus is disaster preparedness and emergency response, focusing on the safety of our residents, our visitors and our first responders," he said. "That's going to be our focus as well as building a safety culture that all of our personnel goes home safe each and every day."

He also hopes to bridge partnerships with those in the private sector and refocus the county’s objectives as it comes to emergency management and safety and reinvent some of them.

"I want to meet the challenges that were presented to me during the interview process by our leadership, our council members, our political members," he said. "They have a distinct vision and it's the right vision, so I want to make sure that I meet those objectives and maybe take it a little bit further."

Green said he got into emergency management because it’s how things progressed in his career — opportunities presented themselves and he took advantage of them.

Coming out of high school, Green said he was looking for a direction and he saw the opportunity to get into the fire service.

"July 5, 1977 was my first day on the job. Within 30 minutes on the job I was blasting down the street in a fire truck with lights and sirens, going to a car fire and I was hooked at that moment; I knew that was going to be my career," he said. "It’s been an incredible experience and it’s just evolved since then."