Haslam names Ohio official as new Tennessee Emergency Management Agency chief

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam talks about education and his budget to the editorial board at the Times Free Press.
photo Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam talks about education and his budget to the editorial board at the Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Gov. Bill Haslam today announced he has named a top Ohio official as director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.

Patrick Sheehan, 40, takes over as TEMA chief on June 15, the administration says in a news release.

TEMA coordinates overall state agency responses to major disasters in support of local governments. The office is responsible for ensuring the state's readiness to respond to and recover from natural, man-made and technological emergencies and when called for coordinates actions with the federal government.

Sheehan is currently the operations administrator for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency. He has led Ohio's Emergency Operations Center and the Radiological and Preparedness Branches since 2014 and, according to the Haslam administration, successfully managed the state's response to several declared emergencies including a 2014 Ebola event, a 2014 drinking water crisis in Toledo and a 2012 statewide long-term power outage and heat wave impacting 33 Ohio counties.

"Patrick was the top candidate in a nationwide search for a director to lead the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency," Haslam said in the news release. "His experience coordinating the responses to several serious statewide emergencies in Ohio is impressive and he will use those skills to help Tennesseans during times of crisis."

Sheehan said he is "excited to serve the people of Tennessee," noting "TEMA has a great national reputation, and I look forward to working with the TEMA team and Tennessee's county EMA directors to prepare for, respond to and recover from all disasters."

He joined the Ohio Emergency Management Agency in 2004 as part of the finance staff and was promoted to various agency leadership roles. As operations administrator he spearheaded the formation of an emergency management watch office to provide constant monitoring of emergency situations and immediate response operations.

"Patrick brings a wealth of emergency management experience and knowledge to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency," Tennessee Maj. Gen. Max Haston said. "We are indeed fortunate to find someone of his caliber to head TEMA."

Sheehan takes over the director position from David Purkey, who has divided his responsibilities over the past two years between TEMA and homeland security advisor and assistant commissioner of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security.