“During a disaster is not the time to exchange business cards,” goes an old saying in emergency services, and no one takes that to heart more than UC Davis' new campus emergency manager, Benton Best. He took up his post in October and since then has been forming relationships with departments across the campus — reviewing and preparing action plans with fire, police, UC Davis Health and more.
"Everyone I meet here is so proactive in their approach to safety, and I’m grateful to bring my ideas to a table where everyone is eager to prioritize preparedness,” he said.
A 13-year veteran of emergency management, Best came to UC Davis from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, where he served as a division chief, and he was the emergency manager for Tioga County, Pennsylvania, before that.
Having moved more than 20 times, throughout six different states, he has had the grand tour of emergency services across the United States. He said he has picked up best practices along the way and looks forward to sharing what he's learned.
Among other titles, Best is certified as a firefighter, emergency medical technician, amateur radio technician and CPR Instructor. He considers himself a lifelong learner, so working for an educational institution seemed appropriate, especially one like UC Davis.
"There's a lot of groundbreaking stuff happening here at UC Davis and there's an opportunity for emergency management to be in lockstep with that," Best said. "I’m excited to take what I’ve learned over the years and see how they plug into the existing systems here.”
Plans for UC Davis
Something Best is looking forward to the most in the upcoming months is improving continuity of operations — ensuring that researchers can maintain essential functions in case disaster strikes. He and a planner will be consulting with departments and units to update more than 200 Continuity of Operations Plans, or COOPs, in the coming months.
"I feel very fortunate to be doing this kind of work at a world-class university — I get to do what I love while learning about cutting-edge research," Best said. "It’s rewarding to give researchers the peace of mind of preparedness so they can focus on the important work that they do.”
Best has set up recurring office hours, via Zoom, in support of anyone working on a UC Davis Emergency Action Plan, or EAP; Continuity of Operations Plan, or COOP; or other emergency management-related plan.
- Office hours — 11 a.m.-noon every Tuesday
- Zoom Meeting ID — 828 352 3499
Tahila Aghily is a writer on the communications team in the division of Finance, Operations and Administration. This article was first published on the Safety Services website.
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