Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration
Joshua Taylor: Emergency preparedness through divine intervention
Coming from a family of firefighters, Joshua Taylor was inspired to follow in their footsteps.
After working as an EMT and in various other emergency service roles, Joshua sought to become a leader in his chosen field. He enrolled in the Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration and feels well-equipped in his role of providing emergency response training, emergency response drills, and exercises that are implemented at the Savannah River Site.
Tell me about how you got interested in emergency management as a career.
It’s kind of a legacy story of how I ended up in this line of work, honestly. I had a grandfather who was a fire chief years ago. My dad was a captain in the fire department up north in New Jersey. He moved here years ago to start his own business down on Lake Hartwell. My dad left New Jersey and he bought a piece of property in Starr, South Carolina, and remodeled a convenience store with a bait shop and a restaurant in it. He ran that for probably 15 years. After he sold it he became a park ranger out on the lake. He liked the area so much. He was on the board of directors for the local fire department. My brother is a little older than me and is a paramedic. He joined the fire department at a young age as well. I always thought that it was great that we had that family history of public service.
When I was old enough, at the age of 14 I joined the volunteer fire department as a junior firefighter.
I always had in my mind that I wanted to get into agriculture. But God had other plans for me because I attempted to go to an agricultural college in southern Georgia when I got out of high school and it just wasn’t for me. I came back and gravitated towards emergency services. It was just where my heart was and I knew I could serve the people around me and help people around me with that career path, so I started as a volunteer and just worked in emergency services as a career.
I’ve worked through almost all aspects of public service you can think of. I’ve been in law enforcement, emergency communications, emergency medical services, emergency management, special operations technical rescue, hazardous materials—you name it, I’ve been involved with it at one point. It’s just something that’s always intrigued me and all of those different aspects gave me an opportunity to learn different things throughout the years.
Tell me about how you discovered Anderson University.
I got to a point in my emergency medical services career after I became an Advanced EMT that I reached the top of where I could be as an EMT without advancing my education. I was going to paramedic school at the time and felt things pushing me in another direction. One thing about emergency services: locally, you’re helping one person at one time in that aspect and once you start looking at the emergency management side of things, you go from helping that one person at that one time to being able to help whole communities and even states and even further nationally.
That’s part of what drove me to Anderson. It was honestly divine intervention. I ran into my old friend Dr. (Howard) Murphy (professor of Homeland Security) at the bagel shop on Greenville Street. I wanted to learn more about emergency management and get a degree in emergency management. We talked in the parking lot for about 15 to 20 minutes. He was asking how I was. We got into a conversation about what Anderson was doing. I told him I was getting ready to register for classes at another college and he said, “Please don’t do that yet. At least put it off for a day and come see me tomorrow.” And the rest is history. From there, I went in to talk to him and George Ducworth (professor of Criminal Justice) and got signed up in Anderson’s program and have been able to progress my career exponentially since.
Tell me about your job and how your Anderson University education benefits you professionally.
I work in the training division at the Savannah River Site for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions. I’ve taken what I’ve learned at Anderson and practiced locally taking it to a global level supporting the SRS mission: to safely and efficiently operate SRS to protect the public health and the environment while supporting the nation’s nuclear deterrent and the transformation of the Site for future use. I’ve been able to take that education I’ve learned from Anderson and applied that to the emergency preparedness aspect of emergency services training and response at the Savannah River Site.
Tell me about your job.
I was recently successful in obtaining a promotion as the lead of the Emergency Response Training and Evaluation Group. I have a number of talented individuals that I get the privilege to lead daily and work with and learn from. We provide emergency response training, emergency response drills, and exercises to the emergency response organization onsite at the Savannah River Site. Honestly, the fun thing that I tell people I do is I get paid to mess with people daily. We write emergency drills and exercise scenarios that test the capabilities of the emergency response organization. This allows for quality training to respond in case there is an emergency on site.
At the end of the day, what gives you the greatest satisfaction?
The biggest thing is knowing we provided the quality training and education to our emergency response organization and knowing they will be able to handle any emergency that may arise. We drill and exercise to test their capabilities. If there’s any adjustment that needs to be made, we come back and provide training, so I’m helping people to be the best they can be to keep the state of South Carolina and the world safe.
What would you tell others about the Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration?
First and foremost, they are going to get a quality Christ-centered leadership program. It’s going to provide them with the tools they need to excel in their career, to advance and to gain some more skills and abilities that allow them to go after what they’re looking for. If they’re looking to advance, to get involved in things on a larger scale, the Anderson name has grown and it’s carrying some weight these days. When folks talk about Anderson University they say, “Oh man, that’s a good school! They’re the largest private university in South Carolina.” When they see that and they know what kind of quality personnel they’re getting from those schools, it starts getting remembered and it can really help you move your career forward.
What advice would you give someone interested in a type of public service profession?
There are volunteer opportunities at all public safety agencies. If you’re in a position where you’re currently employed and think you may want to get into public safety/public service, I would look at those volunteer opportunities and do some ride-alongs to make sure it’s really what you want to do, because it’s really not for everybody. I really don’t like putting it that way, but you have to have a servant’s heart and be willing to put yourself in some positions that others won’t. You hear people saying it all the time: “Other folks are running away; we’re the folks who are running to it.” There’s something in our hearts and our minds that tells us it’s right for us to be going to it. It’s definitely not for everybody. The burnout rate these days is high, so you definitely need to make sure you have a heart for it before you get into it as a full-time career, otherwise you’re going to be miserable.
Anybody who decides to attend the Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration will have a wealth of opportunity. Even with my full-time emergency preparedness job, it has provided me the opportunity to partner with some like-minded individuals and be one of the founding members of a company, Etimos Group. We provide emergency services, emergency management, and preparedness training. We provide training and consultation to corporations and local government agencies across the U.S.
My education from Anderson has allowed me to travel the United States in the disaster response role and emergency medical services as a FEMA subcontractor. It also afforded me the opportunity to be on two different presidential medical teams, once for the inauguration of President Barack Obama and once for visits of President Donald Trump here in South Carolina. I am also proud to serve on Anderson University’s Alumni Board.
A wealth of opportunities awaits anybody that gets into Anderson’s Public service program.