MUSCATINE, Iowa–After spending several years working in dispatch, fire, and emergency medical work in the suburbs of Chicago, Chris Jasper wanted to move closer to the Quad Cities, where he grew up. In 2010, Muscatine County had an open 911 dispatcher position, and Jasper took it. For nine years, Jasper worked as a dispatcher and then as a 911 supervisor. In 2017 when a tornado hit the South End, Jasper filled in for the Muscatine County Emergency Manager, who had gone out of town. Jasper worked to create a shelter for displaced residents and helped the National Weather Service as they assessed the area to determine the severity of the tornado that hit and all the areas it affected. Jasper found he liked the work, and later moved up the ranks to the positions of 911 Director and Muscatine County Emergency Management Director.
In these roles, Jasper oversees three different departments, emergency communications (which includes the 911 call center and the county’s emergency radio and computer network), Muscatine Search and Rescue (a volunteer group which performs water rescues and assists other first responders with land operations as needed), and emergency management (a broad reaching department that works to mitigate hazards, plan for various situations, respond to disasters, and help with recovery afterwards).
Though Jasper wears many hats, he finds his career rewarding, both because of the collogues he gets to work with and the many different ways he gets to help people from across Muscatine County. “We have some great Public Safety professionals in Muscatine County, and it’s awesome to work side-by-side with them,” he shared: “I also like that everyday is not the same. I may be reviewing hazardous material response plans or may be at one of our tower sites trying to work on a generator. When I get up in the morning, I never know what the day may bring.”
Jasper has also found that he enjoys living in Muscatine and loves how as a smaller city, it has plenty of amenities while still allowing people to get to know each other well. “I enjoy getting to know my neighbors and community and having that ‘small town feel’ without being in a small town.”