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Making an impact in the field of emergency management

The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Emergency Manager of the Year, Andrew Friend, is heavily focused on evolving COVID-19 related scenarios.

IAEM recognized Andrew Friend for managing natural disasters and helping communities deal with the worldwide pandemic.

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 work with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

In September 2020, as the Deputy Director for the Illinois Department of Public Health, Friend was the Deputy Incident Commander for the state agency’s response to COVID-19.

He shifted strategies and concentrated on increasing the capacity of healthcare providers to administer vaccines, as an alternative to having the state’s residents visit the mass vaccination sites.

Friend directed and managed the state’s mass vaccination program, which ranked first in the country as at 31 December, 2020, with more than 150,000 vaccinations administered. By the end of May 2021, his system had resulted in more than 11.1 million vaccinations.

One of the things that was really remarkable about Andrew’s plan in Illinois was the focus on access for a lot of providers to serve underserved communities,” says Akshay Birla, VP of Marketing at Juvare, the sponsors of the awards and provider of software for emergency preparedness and response. “The leadership Andrew demonstrated was just phenomenal,” and that Andrew’s experience with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia helped him “to bring that wisdom and knowledge” to the USA.

In 2019, Friend became an adviser to the Saudi Government for emergency management, and was one of 40 chosen to attend FEMA’s Executive Leadership Academy at the Emergency Management Institute in Maryland. Due to the strength of his experience in responding to the MERS-CoV Coronavirus outbreak in Saudi Arabia, Friend was invited to fill an emergency post as the SEOC Chief of Staff with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency in early 2020, making him one of the key command staff for the state’s pandemic response.

Since 2014, Friend has garnered six international honors and has spoken professionally in five countries at more than 45 events. He has an MA in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, is a Certified Emergency Manager, and serves on the steering group of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.