Ellen Sam came to Kentucky for her graduate studies. Little did she know she would stay for over 30 years, holding numerous positions with different organizations.
Sam grew up in New Jersey and studied at the University of Kentucky where she obtained her graduate degree in Animals Sciences.
“I was undecided in the direction within that field and sidestepped into another area of interest, law enforcement, while I contemplated directions in my field of studies,” Sam said.
What was originally just a sidestep to decide the direction she wanted to take in animal sciences; ended up being a 30-year long career. Sam was able to combine her love for animals while also fulfilling her interest in policing. She served as the first female canine officer at the Lexington Police Department (LPD). Sam’s last assignment was supervising the LPD’s Mounted Unit, which consisted of horses, her first love.
In 2010, Sam sustained a work-related injury with the risk of needing to retire from LPD. With that possibility in mind, Sam searched for a new job and ended up talking with the Emergency Management Director, Pat Dugger. She asked Sam to become an Emergency Operations Center Coordinator if or when Sam retired. From there, Sam took the job.
“My primary interest is in ESF-11, Agriculture,” Sam said. “It turned out a good fit especially since as of that time, the current coordinators strengths were not in animals, especially companion animals.”
Sam is also a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member as well. After researching in the office, she realized that the Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control or LFACC did not have an abundance of CERT team certified staff.
“I had proposed the concept of training an animal response team, comprised of CERT members, to both Nathan Bowling, Chief of LFACC and Shelley Bendall, CERT Coordinator,” said Sam. “Five years later, we had our first training sessions for CERT.”
Sam hopes for the following trainings to see more EOC coordinators in attendance. According to Sam, she foresees the same ones coming, but hopes that more will come to help develop proficiency in reporting an actual event.