Allen County EMA director resigns

Apr. 26—LIMA — After 10 years at the helm of the Allen County EMA, Tom Berger is resigning to take a position at the statewide level.

Berger will complete his service with the county emergency management agency May 1 and will be taking a position with Ohio Homeland Security dealing with protecting critical infrastructure. OHS is a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

In looking back on his tenure in Allen County, Berger spoke fondly of the relationships he built.

"It's been an absolute pleasure working for the Allen County commissioners," he said. "The past and present administrations have been great to work with, and the support has been phenomenal. The police, fire and first responder community in our county is, in my opinion, some of the best in the state and they made my job extremely enjoyable and they have been easy to work with in emergency training exercises."

Prior to working with the Allen County EMA, Berger worked at Allen County Public Health in an emergency planning capacity, experience that helped him when dealing with the recent COVID pandemic.

"We were doing emergency planning and planning for pandemics," he said. "So I kind of had a leg up on other EMA directors in the state. I knew the plans and had done some exercising with a pandemic, working through H1N1, and then Ebola was coming on board as I was transitioning to the EMA."

Working through the pandemic will be one of the most memorable experiences Berger will take with him from his time at the EMA, he said, as well as the three years of preparation for this month's solar eclipse.

The Allen County commissioners have named deputy EMA director Jared Gesler as the agency's interim director and will conduct a search for a new permanent director.