Ohio, Marshall EMA directors two of only few in state to receive Gov. Justice’s new honor

Marshall County

The Ohio County EMA director Lou Vargo was given the honor of ‘innovation’ for his work with technology and Marshall County’s EMA Director Tom Hart was recognized for perseverance as Marshall County has seen its share of emergencies in even this week alone.

MARSHALL & OHIO COUNTIES (WTRF) — Governor Jim Justice recognized six emergency leaders in West Virginia with the Department of Homeland Security award, two of which the honor hits very close to our neck of the woods.  And recognition from the governor is a first for both of them. 

The Ohio County EMA director Lou Vargo was given the honor of ‘innovation’ for his work with technology and Marshall County’s EMA Director Tom Hart was recognized for perseverance as Marshall County has seen its share of emergencies in even this week alone. 

The Governor says protecting Marshall County starts with perseverance, and with 20 years on the job, Hart has seen his share of natural disasters like flooding 

It really hits home when you see someone who has lost pretty much everything they have. So, that’s one thing that always sticks in the back of your mind.

Tom Hart, Director of Marshall County’s Office of Emergency Management

And in Ohio County, innovation has paved the way, that the state has taken notice. 

We’re taking that from out of the box software and turning it into West Virginia Emergency Management Program. I have a team working on that so I think that’s one of the reasons the governor looked towards me. 

Lou Vargo, Director of Wheeling-Ohio County Emergency Management

In a situation where every second counts, the camera system and the wide area notification system through the 911 center sends notifications out to crews fast. Which even helped in an emergency this weekend. 

The other night we had a big fire at Avenue Eats and that message from Chief Helms to the firefighters who were off duty to come in, he could do that through our new technology in our system.

Lou Vargo, Director of Wheeling-Ohio County Emergency Management

Adaptable, ready to go, from whether it’s flooding or a virus threatening West Virginia lives… 

It’s something different every day and especially with the pandemic things are changing on a regular basis. 

Tom Hart, Director of Marshall County’s Office of Emergency Management

Recently the EMA has been going hand-in-hand with the Health Department… and both agree – In an emergency, there’s more than one helping hand deserving of recognition. 

Even though it might have somebody’s name on it, I think it’s more of a community type effort.

In my 30 years, we’ve always worked well together. In Emergency Management, we don’t have boundaries, especially in the Panhandle.

Hart and Vargo

Both directors will be bestowed with ‘Freedom Pins’ and while the EMA directors humbly accept this huge honor, they say it takes a village to keep a village safe. 

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