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Congratulations to our 2022 LEPA Award Winners!

Leadership Award

Mark Johnson, University of Louisiana at Monroe Campus CERT

Dr. Mark Johnson is a retired police chief who has been in law enforcement his entire career. He became the ULM police chief before going back to school to earn his Master’s degree and his PhD in criminal justice.

Dr. Johnson partnered with Volunteer Louisiana to train and develop the first Campus CERT (Campus Community Emergency Response Team) at the University of Louisiana in Monroe in December of 2021. He is a constant champion for expanding Louisiana’s emergency management capacities through skilled volunteer training.

Dr. Johnson saw the need for ULM to be a shelter site and wanted to make disaster training available to his faculty and staff. By doing this, he is assisting the entire state in disaster preparedness. The ULM Campus CERT team is now ready to stand and help the citizens of Louisiana run a shelter, help with light search and rescue, direct traffic and many other activities during a hurricane or other emergency. Since training the team, Dr. Johnson has been a positive support role model in discussing Campus CERT to numerous other universities in the state in an effort to help them create their own Campus CERT team.

Dedication Awards

Faith Willis

Faith Willis is a dedicated employee of the DOTD Emergency Operations Group. As the Assistant ESF-1 Lead, she is constantly engaged in revising DOTD’s ESF-1 plans and procedures. She is responsible for the department’s hazardous materials contract and coordinates for DOTD’s nine districts to properly dispose of the department’s hazardous materials by products from daily operations. Faith is also the department’s FirstNet coordinator and manages the FirstNet Portal to manage DOTD’s FirstNet users.

Aside from her required duties, Faith goes above and beyond with the courses that she teaches. She is a certified ICS instructor and routinely delivers several ICS courses during the year. She also is an instructor with the LSU NCBRT program and delivers courses around the country for LSU and the Department of Homeland Security. Faith is not required to teach these courses but does so out of true dedication to the emergency management profession.

United Way of Southwest Louisiana

Southwest Louisiana has faced unprecedented difficulties, with 5 federally declared disasters in less than 12 months and United Way of Southwest Louisiana has been there to meet the call each time. Providing assistance by continuously filling gaps in human services for families in the five-parish area when pandemic restrictions closed nonprofits. Pivoting to help when Hurricanes Laura and Delta took aim on the region. Rebuilding the lives of families continued through Winter Storm Uri and the May floods. Innovative strategies designed by the nonprofit allowed for swift responses and are continuing to build long term plans for addressing needs.

United Way of Southwest Louisiana has positively changed the lives of over one million community members in the five-parish area at a turbulent time these past two years. A few examples of their outreach includes:

  • Furniture for Families provided 180 tons of new items to more than 500 homes
  • 211 answered over 100,000 calls for help
  • United Against Child Hunger provided more than 24,000 meals for children
  • VITA free tax prep returned $4.4 million to families in SWLA
  • 1,250 Literacy Kits given to young children
  • 168,348 books provided to children under age 5
  • 3,000 families per day for 50 days received supplies through the Hurricane Relief Center
  • 60,327 hot meals provided during COVID response
  • 86 homes rebuilt with United Way funding
  • 543 families have rent and utilities current due to casework for the parish
  • Provided new uniforms for all children beginning HeadStart
  • 659 nights of shelter provided for recent storms and 3,728 hot meals provided for residents
  • 2,908 senior citizens delivered meals each week in 2021
  • Thank you United Way of Southwest Louisiana for your excellent response to the needs of your community.

Valor Awards

John Cowart

On August 10, 2019 at approximately 6:15pm, Mr. Lee DeRamus of Amite Louisiana was cutting his grass with a zero-turn lawnmower. His tire slid off the side of a bridge near his home. Mr. DeRamus fell about 15 feet into the creek below and was pinned down by one of the control arms of his mower. He was unable to move and was barely able to keep his head above water. His wife, Charlotte, frantically went to their neighbor’s house and asked for assistance. John Cowart rant to assist Mr. DeRamus. John found him in the bottom of the creek, exhausted from trying to hold his head above water. John was able to break the steering arm off the mower and retrieve Mr. DeRamus. The fire department, paramedics, and police arrived and was able to assist John in hoisting Mr. DeRamus from the creek. Fortunately, Mr. DeRamus only suffered minor injuries and was able to fully recover from the incident. John Cowart’s quick acting and assistance undoubtably saved the life of Mr. Lee DeRamus.

Kendall Vanardo

On March 5, 2022 Deputy Kendall was dispatched to a residence on Newman Briggs Road in Kentwood, LA when a911 call was received for an elderly male being attacked by a pack of dogs. When Deputy Varnado arrived at the residence, the dogs had already been restrained and she was able to locate the victim lying near a fence. The victim’s injuries from the dog attack were so severe, Deputy Varnado observed numerous exposed bones throughout the victim’s leg. The victim was bleeding so profusely, Deputy Varnado applied a CAT tourniquet to the victim’s thigh and was able to successfully stop the bleeding. The victim also sustained many severe flesh wounds to both of his feet, both arms, and head. Deputy Varnado, along with Acadian Ambulance, stabilized the victim. Although the victim had to have both legs partially amputated, members of the North Oaks medical team stated that if it had not been for Deputy Varnado’s training and intuition, the victim would have most undoubtedly not survived.

Later, Deputy Varnado was able to locate the owner of the dogs and place him under arrest for Negligent injuring. Because of Deputy Varnado’s thorough investigation, the District Attorney’s Office is taking her entire case file to the Louisiana State Legislature, in hopes of changing the law to provide for an enhancement to the negligent injuring law, which is currently a misdemeanor, whereas a certain degree of injury would allow for the charge to be enhanced to a felony, so future victims of like incidents would be served better justice.

Deputy Varnado is a very humble person who often exceeds expectations in the workforce of Law Enforcement. She is well respected amongst her peers and often-times volunteers to work in times of short staffing. She has served as a Field Training Officer in both Communications and Patrol throughout her career.

Deputy Daniel Haydel and Deputy Jamie Wolfe

Deputy Daniel Haydel was parked in his driveway after a 12 hour shift on January 27, 2021. A call came over his police radio that a pickup truck with children inside had gone off the road seven minutes from Haydel’s house and was sinking in the dark cold waters of New River Canal. He was out of his driveway and in the bayou in minutes.

Deputy Wolfe was still starting his shift to replace Haydel and rushed to the scene and into the water shortly after Haydel. The truck was submerged to its roof and the cabin filled with water.

Haydel took off his equipment and plunged into a bayou that was so deep that he could not touch the bottom. Once he was nearer to the truck and could hear the children inside, Haydel said he knew he had to act quickly and do “everything it takes to get them out.” With brute strength and adrenaline, Haydel broke open the truck’s back window and pulled the children and others out of the truck and handing them off to others in the water. Haydel later suffered a sprained wrist from his efforts.

First responders performed CPR once the children and others were freed from the water. All had a pulse once at the hospital.

Deputies Haydel and Wolfe and others, willingly put their own lives at risk to save others. Ascension Sheriff Bobby Webre stated “When you save another human being’s life, that is service beyond self because you’re normally putting your own self at great risk when you’re saving someone’s life and that’s what these men and women and first responders do.

Founders Award

Deano Moran

Deano Moran has been a driving force in helping the Louisiana Emergency Management Conference become a prominent source of information in Emergency Management in Louisiana. Deano’s vision of the LEMC was to become one of the premier Emergency Management Conferences in the South-Eastern part of the United States to rival the conferences of other states where the stakeholders of emergency management in Louisiana could collaborate. Deano took on the challenge with the determination to overcome the obstacles presented to him to make the LEMC become an event in which most of the rooms and vendor booths were sold out early this year and will likely continue with this success for years to come. One of the biggest challenges he faced was working with and convincing the LEPA board and GOHSEP to embrace the concept. In addition to the conference, Deano has been dedicated to serving the Louisiana Emergency Preparedness Association for two consecutive terms during the COVID 19 Pandemic. His leadership has supported the organization through the historical times of uncertainty to keep things functioning until the pandemic was beginning to subside.

He has worked with the LEPA board and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness to see his vision. He also has taken the lead on Navigating LEPA through uncharted waters of keeping an organization afloat through the first global pandemic that most of us have seen in our lifetime.

2022 LEPA President's Award

Pam Roussel

Since October of 2006 Directors from Region 3, past and present, have shared the great pleasure to have Pam Roussel serve as their Regional Coordinator. With her retirement now upon us, many wanted to take a moment to reflect on her great work and even greater impact she has had on each of us professionally and personally.

In her role as Region 3 Coordinator over the last 16 years, Pam has seen her share of emergencies, including but not limited to, Tropical Storms, Hurricanes, Industrial Accidents and a continued ongoing pandemic. She has been a selfless guide for several new parish presidents and directors as they began their long journey of navigating the tricky waters of politics and emergency preparedness. Pam’s superior knowledge and understanding of emergency management at the local, state, and federal levels, coupled with her professionalism and genuine care made her the center point of our success here in Region 3.

If you ask anyone who has had the great fortune of working with Pam, you will find more of the same kind words, comments, or stories of how they were positively impacted by her along the way. This is because Pam performed her duties and her responsibilities from the heart. Her humble and kind approach to help others find their way and reach success is a selfless characteristic that is hard to find in people today. Pam always understood that this is a “people business” and she always invested herself into those around her.

Awards, Accomplishments and Accolades are not a complete measurement of a successful career. A true measure is what you leave behind… How you impacted those around you during your time of service…. Your Thumbprint!

Pam’s thumbprint on all of us is her dedication, loyalty, integrity, love, care, passion, and the ability to inspire people. There is no doubt Pam Roussel will be leaving Region 3 better than she found it and we are all grateful.