Ready for the Next Emergency:  Ryan Deatherage

By AAK, Sara Jane Richter

Ryan Deatherage and I go way back:  he was an English student of mine at Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell in the early 1990’s. He was a good “kid”: a good worker, a good student (except in art appreciation), and a good young man. He’s only improved with age.  The Bethel Acres, Oklahoma native came to Kingfisher in 2004 and took his current position in 2023. He and his wife Jill met while in college and have three children:  Aubrey, Amy, and Andrew.  

He now serves as Kingfisher County’s 911 Director and Assistant to Deputy Emergency Manager, but by the end of March 2024, he’ll serve as the county’s Director of 911 and Emergency Management. He does not come to this position without the proper training, skill set, and attitude.  

He will helm a staff of six full-time dispatchers and one part-time dispatcher; his assistant will be Libby Sieger. Deatherage considers the youth of these eight people advantageous as they are willing to adapt to new training and equipment. The office will embrace new 911 equipment and technology soon, ensuring that Kingfisher County prepares for the future. 

One of the elements of implementing this new mapping system equipment is standardizing 911 addresses—the most vital component of the 911 world. EMT responders must know the exact location of a call’s origin to ensure proper timing and support to citizens and their property. Such updates have not occurred since 2016. Knowledge is key in the world of emergency management.

Deatherage wishes to maintain the department’s efficiency and success based on the 24-year tenure of current Emergency Manager Steve Loftis, with whom Deatherage has worked since coming to Kingfisher. He’s learned from the best with Loftis, so Deatherage knows what the department needs and how to handle a budget and adopt and adapt new technology. He seeks to continue fostering public support for the department and to search for grants to supplement the budget, training, and equipment.  

He knows that an EM position relies on good communication—within the department, community, and state; thus, he is willing to learn tips and techniques from other state emergency managers. He is used to learning from the best, too, for while in the Panhandle, Deatherage worked with two strong influences in the field: Justin Carnegie of Goodwell and Arnold Peoples of Texas County.   

An emergency manager’s job is not simple or easy. He must continue taking classes and attending seminars to improve his skills and stay current in the rapidly changing world. The position requires that the manager collect information regarding emergencies and disasters, respond to such emergencies, manage state resources, and work with others who need assistance within the state system.  

Emergencies involve fires, floods, explosions, threats of violence and terrorism, earthquakes, hazardous materials, accidents on land and water and in the skies, search and rescue, utility service disruptions, building collapses, biological or ecological calamities, and Mother Nature’s extremes. Emergency directors must quickly learn of disasters or threats, coordinate responses to such, and implement rescues and recoveries of people, resources, and property. This position is not for the faint of heart.

You can trust Ryan to do a fine job and continue to enhance and secure available equipment and needs for all the residents of the county. He is persistent and determined, which makes it fortunate that he doesn’t give up easily. He is dependable and creative, which makes him a good choice for this position. Deatherage may have an easy-going personality and a ready smile, but he’s all business and will continue to serve Kingfisher County in a most professional and competent fashion. However, just to be on the safe side, don’t bring up Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Picasso, O’Keefe, or Chihuly in conversation. Photo by Libby Seiger