Montgomery County

Montgomery County emergency management job stays in the family

Dealing with emergencies runs in the Schwabrow family.

Dealing with emergencies runs in the Schwabrow family.

When Dwight Schwabrow retired as Montgomery County emergency management director with plans to move to the state of Florida, his son Adam stepped up.

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors recently chose him unanimously from three candidates to fill the $25,000-a-year, part-time position.

“Growing up, my dad was always responding to emergencies as a cop and in the fire department,” Adam Schwabrow said, “I saw all that and decided to follow the same path.”

From a young age, he was drawn to jobs that demanded a certain calm under pressure. At 18, he joined the Mohawk Volunteer Fire Department and started work as a part-time dispatcher for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office just out of high school.

Now at 31, he’s been a full-time Johnstown police officer for eight years, the Mohawk fire chief for three and the Montgomery County Emergency Management deputy coordinator for six.

“It’s just something I took to pretty well,” he said of his emergency-based career. “My father didn’t get upset easily. He was always good under pressure, and I think I got that from him.”

The position of emergency management director is less action-oriented than his full-time job. He explained the job consists mostly of preliminary emergency readiness; communicating with fire, sheriff’s and highway departments to maintain organization; mitigation; and post-disaster cleanup and paperwork.

He’ll start officially Nov. 1, but some threatening weather has him working early. The National Weather service in Albany is tracking Hurricane Sandy over the Caribbean. Early forecasts predict it will hit the coast somewhere between the New Jersey and Maine.

“There will be some impact, but we don’t know yet how much,” he said, pointing out that in the next few days the forecasts will be much more precise and accurate.

In the meantime, he and interim emergency management director Rick Sager are working together to stay in contact with area emergency responders.

It’s a stressful way to start the job, but, true to form, Schwabrow seemed calm discussing it by phone Thursday.

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