Madison County’s Emergency Management Agency picked its volunteer of the year.
Andy McKellar, a longtime volunteer for EMA was presented with the agency’s inaugural award May 2. EMA held its first dinner to thank the agency’s team of 35 registered volunteers and honored McKellar for his service and dedication.
“Andy has been with us since the volunteer team began,” Director of Madison County EMA Tony Falconio said. “The team has changed a lot in the last few years and we rely on our volunteers heavily to respond to incidents and deploy equipment. We couldn’t do all that we do without them, and Andy is a prime example.”
In 2009, McKellar signed up for his first emergency management class with then-EMA Director Larry Ringering.
“At the end of the class, Larry invited me to join the Madison County Incident Management Team,” McKellar said. “The following year I helped him at another class, which led me to become an instructor myself.”
Since then, McKellar has become a certified instructor and has taught about 300 people across 18 Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes throughout the county. During the classes, which are free to residents, the program educates volunteers about disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.
“I truly enjoy seeing people get involved after attending CERT classes,” McKellar said. “When I first began teaching CERT classes, I was the only instructor; now three former students are also certified instructors and six former CERT students are on the EMA volunteer team.”
In addition to his volunteerism in Madison County, McKellar also puts in time with the Methodist Church Illinois Great River Conference Early Response Team and has been involved in recovery efforts in Joplin, Mo., and Haiti, among others.
Visit https://www.co.madison.il.us/departments/emergency_management to learn more about the County’s CERT team and other volunteer programs.