GRIC Emergency Manager named Emergency Manager of the Year

September 7, 2018


Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


At the 2018 Arizona Emergency Services Association (AESA) Annual Conference, Office of Emergency Management, Emergency Operations Director Robert “Bob” DeLeon, was recognized for his leadership as the “Emergency Manager of the Year” on Aug. 23. 


The nomination came as a surprise to DeLeon, who credits the OEM staff for the honor. 


“I wasn’t aware I was nominated…a couple of days before the conference I was asked if I was going to attend the conference or, because I hadn’t signed up yet and I had another meeting scheduled that day,” said DeLeon. 


The prerequisites for the Emergency Manager of the Year are open to county, municipal emergency, and tribal representatives, who are dedicated to serving their community within public safety preparedness.  Each nominee is evaluated through a selection board that reviews their information and background before a decision is made. 


DeLeon is no stranger to emergencies, and he has been on the scene since 1980 when he started as a firefighter/paramedic with the City of Mesa and the City of Scottsdale, and as an emergency manger. 


He was nominated by a peer emergency manager, but due to the closed nomination process, he was unaware of their identity. 


DeLeon says that OEM has a dedicated team of workers as well as the support of the Community. “We all work together, we take parts and components of various plans or activities and then we meet once a week to talk about what we are doing to coordinate with each other,” he said. 


He said emergency management is a year-round job that requires close coordination with Community departments on a variety of events and activities related to the public. 


“We are not just busy during the monsoon season, we are working on developing plans, we are working on training, which is out of [this] office…one of the things we do is work with external partners around training like the National Incident Management System,” said DeLeon. 


DeLeon said with training and collaborations, OEM is prepared for a variety of emergency scenarios.  OEM is unique among emergency management offices because they facilitate the rehabilitation of homes damaged by severe storms with Community departments along with GRIC infrastructure.  


“We don’t just work with the Community departments, we work with the hospital, the casinos, that’s all part of it….but most of all we need to continue to work on emergency plans for each of the entities and their facilities,” said DeLeon.