Layne Stewart, director of Clay County’s Office of Emergency Management, was presented the Community Health Service Award at the Dakota Hospital Foundation Community Leadership Dinner held Thursday, May 23 in the Muenster University Center on the USD campus.
Layne is a native of Webster City, Iowa and moved to Vermillion to attend USD in 1988. He completed his bachelor’s degree in secondary education with content areas in earth science, biology and chemistry.
Layne has been a volunteer firefighter for Vermillion and Wakonda for 25 years and an EMT for 20 years. He has been with the Clay County Office of Emergency Management since 2003. He is a fire instructor and practical evaluator for the State Fire Marshall’s office. He has taught many firefighter, EMT, CPR, First Aid and ACLS classes over the course of 20 years.
He is a Stop the Bleed instructor providing education to school district faculty and staff throughout Clay County and has placed Stop the Bleed kits in all school buildings within the county along with the courthouse. He is hopeful that other locations, including USD, will soon follow.
Layne has been part of Clay/Union County POD (Point of Dispensing) since its inception in 2008. As a result of a POD exercise held in 2016 where representatives from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) came to observe along with other federal, state and regional agencies participating, he was asked to join a CDC work group on Medical Counter Measures (MCM) events.
He is in the process of setting up a mini POD in Union County to help alleviate some of the congestion in Vermillion, should such an event occur. He has also trained multiple classes on the Incident Command System and its use during MCM events.
Layne is married to Carmen Stewart, director of USD Head Start, and has three stepchildren, Sarah, John and Pat and two grandchildren, Cameron and Charlotte.
Presenting Layne the award at the May 23 banquet was Sheriff Andy Howe who also serves on the board of directors of the Dakota Hospital Foundation. Here are Howe’s comments during the award presentation:
“This year, I was hesitant to nominate Layne Stewart, not because I felt he was undeserving but because I know Layne to be the type of person who would prefer not to be recognized in this way. I work closely with Layne and don’t want to be on his bad side for calling attention to him. Typically, Layne is the person who organizes the event but somehow isn’t pictured in the photos,” Howe said. “In fact, while preparing for this presentation, a group of our board members were searching the internet for photos of Layne and although his name might be in the caption, it often read “Layne Stewart, not pictured.” But, Layne is very deserving of this award and I took a chance and nominated him.”
Howe described how Layne has served as a volunteer firefighter for 25 years as well as an Emergency Medical Technician for 20 years, participating in the training of other EMTs and firefighters.
“Additionally, since becoming the Clay County Emergency Management Director 16 years ago, Layne has developed Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plans and supervised annual disaster drills and training, all geared toward preparation for serious events,” he said. “Layne is instrumental in the ongoing planning and preparation of the Clay County Point of Dispensing which is designed to prepare for the quick dispensing of medication to the entire county in the event of a need for mass inoculation.
“During recent annual POD exercises, the exercise itself was used to dispense flu shots which served the purpose of the exercise for preparedness and also to protect the health of the community,” Howe added. “This was very valuable to help vaccinate the community for H1N1.”
He noted that Layne is also the Clay County Safety Officer and plans monthly safety training for county employees on topics such as safe lifting; slip, trips and falls; fire extinguisher use and fire safety; CPR and AED use; infectious disease prevention, etc.
“His efforts are directly responsible for the fact that Clay County received a Platinum Level Loss Control/Safety Achievement award from Safety Benefits, Inc. for the years 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017,” Howe said. “Although this award was presented to Clay County, it is understood that it was Layne’s work that won the award.”
Layne is often present at large scale incidents, assisting as necessary, he said.
“He has taken a leadership role in preparing a mobile command post for use by Clay County Emergency Services during incident response and works to maintain the readiness of the equipment. Layne is often present to assist in large training exercises involving law enforcement such as active shooter response training, often serving as an actor for role playing exercises,” Howe said. “Layne arranges other training topics such as in 2018 when he arranged for training on the state’s mass casualty response equipment including a mobile morgue and autopsy trailer for use in potential events such as a large plane crash.”
Layne has dedicated his adult life to the service to this community, primarily in a role that enhances public health and safety, the sheriff said.
“His personality is one that attempts to stay behind the scenes and invisible while he does most of the work. This list of Layne’s community-oriented work is far from complete; there is more, such as his work with the Stop the Bleed program, Junior Achievement, his valuable assistance to the Community Blood Bank efforts, and other volunteer efforts that many people are unaware of,” Howe said.