New director for Clinton County Emergency Management Agency named

By Gary Huffenberger -

New Clinton County Emergency Management Agency Director Thomas Breckel and his wife Deborah.

New Clinton County Emergency Management Agency Director Thomas Breckel and his wife Deborah.

Courtesy photo

WILMINGTON — The new director of the Clinton County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is returning to his hometown of Wilmington following service in the military and experience in emergency management to shield populations during man-made and natural disasters.

Thomas B. Breckel, a member of the Wilmington High School Class of 1986, was selected from among 16 applicants for the position. He will start April 1, succeeding Michael Jones who passed away in January.

Contacted Friday, Breckel, 51, said he is amazed and humbled to be given an opportunity to be a stakeholder in his community.

He thinks one of the most rewarding things a person can do in their life is to come back to their community and be a part of any future success there.

If a natural or man-made disaster were to occur in Clinton County, Breckel hopes his experiences gathered over the years will enable him to ease the emergency situation.

Though he hasn’t begun the new job yet, Breckel anticipates one of the first things he’ll do is assess the local situation based upon current disaster preparedness plans. Similarly, he expects to make sure that disaster plans are current and updated based on what the current threats are here.

In addition, he wants to connect with first-responders and find out what their needs are, and subsequently assist them whether it be through obtaining grants, offering training opportunities or other opportunities to fill their needs so they can serve their communities better.

Half serious, he thinks one of his bigger challenges on the new job will be adjusting from a military mindset to a civilian mindset. Specifically, Breckel mentioned he will need to not use acronyms that the listener doesn’t know.

“In the military, we use acronyms like they are actual words,” he said with a chuckle.

In the cover letter with his resumé, Breckel refers to his 10 years of Emergency Operations Center leadership during high-pressure situations spanning aircraft mishaps, tornadoes, wildfires, flooding, typhoons and hurricanes, terrorism, and combat operations.

A highlight, his resumé states, was leading multiple emergency management work groups for four air bases, and overseeing 17 separate operational plans.

From March 2011 to January 2014 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina, he led base recovery for a hurricane, a tropical storm and two floods, his resumé states. A U.S. Air Force (USAF) certificate attached to his resumé states that Master Sergeant Breckel’s “expert knowledge of recovery operations helped facilitate the reopening of the [Seymour Johnson Air Force Base] airfield within 24 hours of Hurricane Irene’s passing. As a result of this natural disaster, he pioneered an Emergency Management Facebook page to disseminate real-time data and updates.”

At Osan Air Base in the Republic of Korea, Breckel managed pre-storm planning for Typhoon Kompasu in 2010, identified key decision points for senior leadership, and coordinated recovery operations that ensured base situational awareness, according to a separate USAF certificate.

Breckel received an associate’s degree in emergency management from the Community College of the Air Force in 2008.

Clinton County EMA was created almost 30 years ago in December 1989 by a joint county-wide agreement among the county commissioners, the eight municipal councils in the county, and the 13 boards of township trustees.

The purpose of the agency is to coordinate disaster preparedness plans, emergency response communications, and the management of resources needed during disaster situations.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

New Clinton County Emergency Management Agency Director Thomas Breckel and his wife Deborah. Clinton County Emergency Management Agency Director Thomas Breckel and his wife Deborah. Courtesy photo

By Gary Huffenberger