Chris Pope: NHTI Alum at Hub of NH Homeland Security
Surveying the work stations, computers, giant monitors and other apparatus that adorn the state-of-the-art Incident Planning and Operations Center, Chris Pope reflects on what it really takes to fend off the threats to his fellow citizens’ safety.
“It takes a lot of people with a lot of experience, expertise and skills—and commitment,” says the 1979 graduate of the Paramedic Program at NHTI-Concord’s Community College. “From volunteers to first responders to the Governor, New Hampshire is blessed with people who are deeply dedicated and passionate about coming to the aid of their friends, family and neighbors when catastrophe strikes.”
As the Director of NH Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM), Chris works at the epicenter when bad news hits. Whether natural disasters like the 2005 Alstead floods or the tumultuous 2010 tornado, or fortifying against the threat of manmade disasters such as a nuclear accident or bioterrorism, Chris oversees a complex network of local, county, and state resources, integrating them delicately with assistance from the feds, contractors and volunteer efforts.
“It’s a lot of moving parts,” he says. “But it’s a challenge and very personally satisfying, not only to see the results, but to work with people at all levels coming together to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Appointed Director of HSEM (the state-level equivalent of the Federal Emergency Management Agency) by Governor Lynch in 2006, Chris learned his trade from the ground up. He started as a firefighter and paramedic, working his way up to Chief of the Concord Fire Dept. where he managed 117 employees and a dispatch center responsible for 20,000 emergency calls each year, and led the development of the Emergency Management Master Plan for Concord.
Chris graduated from St. Paul’s School in Concord and attended Bucknell University, before recognizing his passion for firefighting and emergency medical services. After completing the State firefighter recruit academy, he entered the paramedic program at NHTI in 1978.
After graduating from NHTI and completing his National Registry Paramedic certification, Chris earned his B.S. in Public Safety Administration at Granite State College and an M.A. in Security Studies (Homeland Defense and Security) at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He then focused on specialized training and education to prepare him for his current role. With a diverse educational background at outstanding institutions, Chris looks back at NHTI as having set a solid foundation.
“It was at NHTI, as a young adult, that I first truly understood I could directly apply what I was learning in the classroom to an actual work experience,” Chris recalls. “And it was at NHTI where learning became fun.”