“You need to be able to handle it in the dark with your eyes closed.”
That’s the way Emerging Leader Joe Gregory views safety training. “When we come on the scene, people need to know what to do,” he says. “You should be able to handle the situation in your sleep.”
Now thefor the Carmel Area Wastewater District, Gregory remembers his days as a sheriff’s patrol deputy where response to emergencies was not only common but required quick and effective action. Before that, he worked in sheet metal and other trades—activities which also required safe practices.
Gregory joined the Carmel staff as an operator in 2011, and was promoted to his current position in 2013. In just four years, he’s made an impression and achieved results.
He takes a no-nonsense approach to safety and compliance. “My experience in law enforcement was really an eye-opener,” he says. “We trained for all kinds of emergencies and catastrophes.
“I believe in the same kind of training for wastewater,” he says, adding that his team knows how to repel upside down—which could be necessary in some confined space recovery situations. “We approach it from a serious standpoint.”
Gregory treats haz-mat training in the same way, teaching crews how to respond to spills, and helping the district add trailers and full rescue training equipment to increase readiness to respond.
As focused as he is on internal needs, he is just as committed to external projects. His nominator Ralph Stevens points out that Gregory recognized a lack of advanced vocational training at the local level and took the lead in remedying the issue.
“Gregory has made a huge impact on the safety and industry specific training available in the central coast region, interagency cooperation and educational opportunities available throughout the Monterey Bay,” said Stevens. He organized a training series which is offered free to local agencies.
Gregory is also responsible for the District’s public outreach program. He has built relationships with local groups including the Carmel Middle School and Carmel High School, as well as the local Monterey Peninsula College and the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
His appreciation of education is apparent in his own training, which includes over 27 industry specific licenses and certifications, including Licensed Safety Professional, Certified Safety Manager, an OSHA certified trainer and a Grade III wastewater treatment operator. He was also awarded the Students and Young Professional Person of the Year award from CWEA.
“Gregory has exhibited outstanding leadership capabilities,” said Stevens. “He has accepted every opportunity to assume a leadership role within our agency.”