Dallas County EMA keeps on top of technology, disasters

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 16, 2004

Not everyone knows his way around a computer network. Mark Smedley is one of the few who does.

Smedley, the information technology specialist with the Dallas County Homeland Security Office and Emergency Management Agency, started his position April 5. Since then he’s been meeting courthouse employees, learning the ropes and fixing everyone’s computer. &uot;That’s a constant problem all networks have,&uot; Smedley said.

Smedley also assists the EMA when a disaster, such as tornado, occurs. Smedley’s duties include writing and updating emergency plans as well as attending classes to learn more about emergency preparedness.

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As the weeks progress Smedley will continue working on the courthouse’s computers, but he’ll also help EMA director Brett Howard with homeland security issues. &uot;And again, that department is evolving and changing,&uot; Smedley said. &uot;Right now, my time is full with IT work.&uot;

Smedley, a Selma native, is a graduate of Dallas County High School, where he played football. He graduated from The University of Alabama with a computer science degree and a minor in electrical engineering.

After graduating, Smedley moved to Huntsville and began working with a start-up library automation software company. &uot;The software allows you to have your card scanned and check your book out to you,&uot; Smedley said. &uot;All the things a librarian would do, the software lets you do it for you.&uot;

Smedley moved into the defense industry afterward and began working on prototype weapons for the Army, including a fiber optic guided missile and an advanced kinetic energy missile. He also worked on an extended air defense simulator. &uot;It was the simulator to simulate everything,&uot; Smedley said.

Smedley’s stint with the defense industry gave him a chance to work with NATO in the Netherlands for two years. &uot;We did simulations of tactical defense,&uot; Smedley said. &uot;We showed NATO their vulnerability to ballistic missiles. It’s the same stuff homeland security does now.&uot;

Smedley worked as a private consultant upon returning to the United States and spent much of his time on the road. &uot;I had been traveling a lot, and I wanted to return to this quality of life,&uot; he said. &uot;I’ve got horses and I enjoy the outdoor activities here. It’s a smaller place, an easy commute and I like the people. Everybody’s pretty friendly in Selma.&uot;

Smedley is a deacon at Northside Baptist Church where he and his wife, Kathy Kilmury Smedley, teach a young adults class and a class for boys. They have four children – Andrew, Owen, Katie and Jim.