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Erickson Begins New Role As Emergency Manager

 

November 26, 2020

Alex Sloan

Rachelle Erickson in Shawnee's Emergency Operations Center.

Rachelle Erickson's family may not have started out in Oklahoma, but she said at this point, it's pretty much the family home.

Originally from Kansas, Erickson lived through stints in Georgia and Iraq, before finally settling down in Oklahoma.

"Growing up, my father opened his own auto-repair shop, called Richard's Repair," Erickson said. "So we all worked in the auto shop."

She said working in the shop would prepare her for her later career in the Air Force. When she took the ASVAB, Erickson said she was quickly identified as having mechanical talents.

"I joined the military, and ten months in, my father passed away," Erickson said. "So that was the toughest thing I've been through yet."

After her father's passing, the shop went out of business. But slowly, most of her family began relocating to Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Erickson was in Georgia, where she was stationed for most of her Air Force career. When she wasn't on deployment, that is.

"I have a go-getter attitude," Erickson said. "I'm always shooting for the bigger and better things."

This attitude served her well during her time in the service. Erickson said she specialized in fuel logistics, and quickly rose through the ranks.

So, I'm used to sitting around a lot of older, knowledgeable people in my profession," Erickson said.

She said she looks to her elders for their guidance and wisdom, and tries to apply the lessons they have to pass on to her.

After eight-and-a-half years in the military, Erickson decided to leave the service to start a family. While stationed in Georgia, she met her husband, Will.

The couple made their way to Oklahoma, where Erickson would eventually begin working for the City of Shawnee as a dispatcher.

«When I was nine months pregnant with my first child, I applied to be a dispatcher," Erickson said. "And right after I had her, I started."

She worked in dispatch for the city for five years, before being officially hired on as the city's new emergency management director during last Monday's City Commission meeting.

Her last shift as a dispatcher was on Nov. 22, and she begins her new role as City Emergency Management Director on Nov. 30.

Erickson said she's taking the week on leave to spend time with Will's daughter from a previous marriage, Roxie.

Will and Rachelle have also had two children, 5-year-old Riley, and 2-year-old Tripp. Erickson said both of the young kids attend North Rock Creek Schools.

Once her week of leave is complete, Erickson said she's ready to dive right in to her new position.

"Starting out, I'm going to finish all of my certifications required by the state statutes," Erickson said. "That needs to be done within the first year, and I'm already halfway done with those."

In the meantime, she said she's working on making connections throughout the city, and the other government bodies that the Emergency Management Director interacts with.

"They're going to be hiring a Pott County Emergency Manager soon, so we'll be working hand-in-hand," Erickson said.

She said she's already began meeting with the CPN Emergency Manager, as well as county and local health officials.

"It's just all about connections," she said.

Erickson's first task as Emergency Management Director is to finish the oversight of the Shawnee debris collection, following the ice storms earlier this month.

But between her time spent in the military, and her time spent as a city employee, Erickson said she's confident that she's ready for whatever this new position has to throw at her.

«When I have a job in front of me to get done, I get it done," Erickson said. "Don't look at my gender or my age and think I'm inexperienced, because I've dealt with this in the military."

 

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