The Blog

From an experience trip to Emergency Manager of the Year

Andrew Friend’s resume is a little different. It tells the story of a unique career and extensive capabilities specializing in strategically dealing with life-threatening situations.

Andrew Friend, MA, CEM (Certified Emergency Manager), is an experienced emergency management official with considerable experience in the Middle East, most particularly the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. His extensive background in Fire and Emergency Medical Services gives him a holistic perspective in Emergency Management.

What was supposed to be a two-year stint to gain experience in international disaster management ended up changing the way Saudi Arabia perceived emergency management. “I just wanted to do my part to help increase the resiliency of the region,” says Friend.

Yet, in a major reform that led to an Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) accreditation, Friend – along with the stakeholders at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center – created a Comprehensive Emergency Management Program that set international standards.

When required, this hospital treats the Saudi king and the royal family, as well as heads of state. Through Friend’s efforts, it became the first hospital in the world to be EMAP-accredited. It also received another special award for being the 100th accreditation internationally.

Further fuelled by his passion and purpose in the emergency management field, Friend has been honored with six international awards since 2014. He was recently presented with the Emergency Manager of the Year Award for the USA for his efforts during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. This highly-valued and sought-after award is given by the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), the most prestigious association for emergency management in the world. “COVID-19 has tested our institutions and leaders, and some have not been up to the task,” wrote Governor JB Pritzker, “Andrew has passed with flying colors.”

Friend was also recognized with the 2021 William Ryan Honorary Award for Excellence by Juvare LLC, a company which provides software solutions for emergency preparedness, critical incident management and response. This was for his “heroic” work with the Illinois Department of Public Health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now focusing his efforts on the fluctuating situations brought about by COVID-19, Friend continues to advocate for increased resiliency, overall public health, and immediate responses to unexpected emergency situations.