IU Emergency Management and Continuity fills three positions at IU Bloomington
When Ken Long became director of emergency management and continuity for IU Bloomington earlier this year, he had a task to complete that would make his new job a whole lot easier – fill the vacancies that would take his team of, well, one, to a team of four.
He pulled together staff with diverse backgrounds and experiences, something he expects will bring “fresh and different methods to how we approach what we do, how we relate to and work with people.”
“I’ve got young people around me, experience around me,” he said. “I intentionally did this for team capabilities. We complement each other – we don’t need to think alike. I need challenge -- I don’t need mini-me’s. What this does is help us with a holistic approach to reaching faculty, staff and students.”
IUEMC is part of Public Safety and Institutional Assurance. Its staff is dedicated to keeping the IU community prepared for various risks, whether manmade or weather-related, and resilient. Their work includes assorted drills and exercises, presentations, preparedness information (personal preparedness, emergency procedures), developing, reviewing and maintaining campus safety plans and much more. Business continuity planning is managed by coordinator Cinda Haff.
The three new staff members have been in place as of Oct. 17:
Steve Balko, assistant director, took the most direct route to emergency management. Balko received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice and public safety from IUPUI. He began interning for the IUEMC team on that campus in 2012 and then worked as an emergency management coordinator before coming to Bloomington.
“Once I started that internship, the writing was on the wall for what I wanted to do for my career,” he said. “I love helping people and organizations stay safer and better prepared for any number of emergencies and disasters.”
Balko had worked on the Bloomington campus for almost a month when this article was prepared. Asked if anything surprised him during his short time here, he said:
“While nothing crazy sticks out – I do appreciate the love that everyone shares for the university, and the way that folks seem to work together.”
Alison Sinadinos, a dancer since the age of 5, has a background in student affairs with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from Western Illinois University and a Master of Science in Student Affairs from Missouri State University.
She worked in Residential Programs and Services at IU for four years as an assistant residence manager in McNutt, Eigenmann and Forest Residence Centers and served as a residence director at Eastern Illinois University for two years before that. Safety and security is always a part of these positions, but she became even more involved during her time at Forest, helping with security and safety planning, crisis management and working with IUPD and its Part-time Officer residential program – and she liked it.
“I want to see what it’s like universitywide,” she said, “and to bring my knowledge of student development and residence life to EMC. It’s crucial to understand how students will react during emergencies.”
Sinadinos sees her and her colleagues’ roles in a “train-the-trainer” framework. They work with building managers to make sure they receive the training they need to help keep the people in their buildings safe. They give presentations to faculty, staff and students. Faculty, she said, can be particularly influential in how students react during emergencies.
“Students look to faculty as experts in their field and for the university. We ask the faculty to understand how to prepare for emergencies and how to react in those situations,” she said. “If students see faculty hide under their desks for an earthquake, they’ll do the same thing. If they see them pack up their bags and leave during a fire drill, they’ll do the same thing. They’re the experts the students look to in times like that. We’re the experts faculty look to.”
Jim Garlits earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University and began working in a factory after graduation because he couldn’t find a better paying job in journalism. He also pursued a military career on the side with the National Guard, which allowed him to continue going to school.
His path to emergency management involved some twists and turns as he watched the field evolve. Early in his military career, for example, he developed an interest in medical planning and operations, which is contingency planning – and in the early 1990s a precursor to emergency management.
He spent a year at Fort Hood in Texas as a battalion detachment commander. Ships would return from theaters of operation in Afghanistan and Iraq filled with broken heavy equipment. Garlits’s mechanics were tasked with figuring out how to repair the equipment to the point that it could drive off the ships, which opened his eyes to the world of transportation, logistics and resource management.
In 2009 he spent 15 months with the National Guard Bureau as team chief for the NGB-Joint Coordination Center, a 24/7 effort to monitor and provide assistance to guard units responding to emergencies. This involved moving people and supplies and then demobilizing them. Garlits retired in 2015 as a major after more than 20 years in the Indiana National Guard.
This isn’t his first stint on a college campus. He has also worked as a military science instructor and recruiting officer in Texas and Illinois – and he loved it.
“The kids are so alive and make you feel younger,” he said. “They keep you on your toes. But they’re also a vulnerable population – they’re so focused on their studies and social lives, which I respect. I want to be part of keeping the students safe.”
IU Emergency Management and Continuity is part of Public Safety and Institutional Assurance, which falls under the Office of the Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs and the Office of the Vice President for IT and CIO.