After career with juvenile court, Zahn is new Emergency Management Coordinator

-Daily Freeman Journal photo by Joe Sutter Tim Zahn, of Webster City, started work here at the Hamilton County Courthouse last week as Emergency Management Coordinator.

Preparing for emergencies and coordinating with first responders throughout the county has been a big career change for Tim Zahn, Hamilton County’s new Emergency Management Coordinator.

For the past eight years Zahn has worked at the Fort Dodge Middle School as a juvenile court-school liaison.

“This is a big change for me,” said Zahn, who grew up in Webster City and graduated Webster City High School in 1988.

Zahn joined the Navy a few years after high school, and spent about 1990 to 1994 stationed in Little Creek, Virginia. After that he got his two year degree at Iowa Central Community College, originally planning to become a teacher.

But after school, he went to work at Woodward Academy, a place for youth who have been adjudicated delinquent, he said.

“I really enjoyed helping kids trying to turn things around, and make a better life. That kind of side-tracked me,” he said.

During the last five years Zahn was at Fort Dodge, he began working with the school’s emergency operation planning.

“That piqued my interest in this field,” he said.

Zahn started work just last week, and is spending much of his time learning his way around the office – “Getting familiar with things, meeting a lot of new people, trying to get up to speed as quickly as possible with the plans, and what needs to be done,” he said. “It’s been kind of a whirlwind, but eventually it will settle down.”

Every county has an emergency management coordinator, whose job is to prepare for floods, tornados and other disasters and make sure the emergency responders have everything they need. They also help with recovery after the fact.

But it’s not just weather issues that Zahn is preparing for.

“I have a lot of trainings to go to. My next one is at Iowa State. They’re doing a foreign animal disease training,” he said. “I’ll be going to that next week.”

On April, the National Pork Producers Council cancelled the 2019 World Pork Expo, as a precaution to avoid the spread of African swine fever into the United States.

“That’s probably the big one they’re going to be talking about,” Zahn said.

He’ll also be working with schools in the county.

“The big thing right now is working with the schools to make sure they have their emergency plans done,” he said. “They’re coming up on a deadline.”

As he learns the job, Zahn will figure out if there’s more work for him to do regarding the condition of the roads and other flood-related problems because of the conditions earlier this year.

Fortunately, he’s got help from the last coordinator, Dylan Hagen.

“The past coordinator was really good. He’s been helpful,” said Zahn. “He continues to be a resource for me.”

Hagen transferred about 20 miles west and became Webster County Emergency Management Coordinator back in January.

Zahn is happy to be in the area, where he still has a lot of family, including his parents, brothers, and sister-in-law.

“I have a large family,” he said.