High pressure, emergency situations are something Ryan Nicholls, Greene County emergency management director, is no stranger too. “Immediate response is probably the most exciting, with high pressure, incredible stress and overwhelming challenges colliding quickly; however, good protocols address most anything.”
It is in immediate response situations that Nicholls reverts back to the training he received while a student in the Bachelor of Science nursing completion program (BSN-C) at Missouri State. “Most challenges initially appear overwhelming. When you break it down, assess the parts, define your diagnosis and outline your treatment plan, anything is fixable.
Nicholls is responsible for overseeing the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) – the nerve center of response in community disasters. The community-based BSN-C program encouraged Nicholls to see the bigger picture of community.
“I learned about community nursing. My vision expanded to helping individuals from
an individual level to a community level,” said Nicholls. “The teaching skills engrained into me that even though the clear right/wrong answer is easier, it is often not the norm.”
While Nicholls was completing his degree he worked in the Neuro-Trauma Intensive Care Unit (NTICU) at Cox Hospital.
“The principles learned during the two years I was completing my BSN-C easily applied to the public work I unknowingly was preparing myself for,” he said.
After graduation Nicholls began to work with the Greene County Emergency Management director who guided his learning processes. Nicholls wrote emergency disaster plans after the tornado outbreak in 2003 and began his graduate studies in emergency management.
Nicholls began working in emergency management for a smaller community while also doing contractual work of disaster planning. It wasn’t long before he found himself in Mississippi after hurricane Katrina working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He learned of the open emergency management director position in Springfield.
Since the spring of 2006, Nicholls has been involved with every disaster in the Springfield area and is amazed by the differences.
“I leave one disaster thinking that great lessons have been learned to be applied to the next disaster and then realize the next disaster is almost as unique as the first,” said Nicholls. “The January 2007 ice storm was the greatest ‘career moment’ I have had, applying all knowledge and skills to the greatest scale known up to that time.”
With each new disaster Nicholls relies on solid nursing principles to help him solve tough problems.
“Patient assessment, diagnosis and treatment easily apply to community assessment,
diagnosis, and treatment. Emergency management works a lot with mitigating bad things from happening, educating prevention measures and preparing for emergencies when the inevitable occurs,” said Nicholls. “As a public servant, good community care is vital to success.”