For Utah County Emergency Manager, a career as first responder is challenging and rewarding
Peter Quittner has lived in Santaquin with his wife and two children for 10 years, and he’s the kind of guy you want to have around during a disastrous event. Quittner is the Utah County Emergency Manager and is responsible to plan for, respond to, and help the community recover from emergencies.
Quittner runs the Utah County Emergency Operations Center and has been with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years. He is also part of the bomb squad, where he has served for 10 years. He previously served as a member of the SWAT team for eight years. Quittner was recently honored to be recognized by Utah State as Emergency Manager of the Year.
Normally, Quittner spends much of his time preparing to respond to every type of emergency imaginable. But this year, he keeps busy making sure the Emergency Operations Center has plenty of personal protective equipment to dole out to various facilities scattered throughout Utah County. Since March, the Spanish Fork emergency center has distributed more than $2 million worth of PPE supplies in response to the current pandemic.
For Quittner, the most challenging thing about his job is that he has to be trained and prepared for literally everything.
“Whether it’s training or equipment, it all boils down to the tools you have in your bag,” he said.
Despite its challenges, Quittner emphasized that being a first responder is highly rewarding as well. He recalled that during his patrol days, he got called out to a case that involved the abduction of a little boy. The boy was found the next day, but Quittner was responsible for securing the crime scene until detectives could come and process it.
During his shift, a car approached the scene. Quittner stopped the driver per procedure. He questioned the driver and got a weird feeling about the situation. It turned out he was right to trust his intuition, as the investigation process revealed that the driver was the kidnapper and had come back to visit the scene.
Quittner said that after the abductor was taken into custody, between six and eight additional children came forward and said the abductor had tried to kidnap them as well.
“Knowing that I made a difference, a real impact, and this person was taken off the streets who was going to harm a lot more people was really rewarding,” he said.
Over the years, Quittner has worn a lot of different hats. He started his career in a jail, then worked patrol for several years, then joined the SWAT team and bomb squad before becoming the Utah County Emergency Manager. He even spent some time as a firearms instructor.
But no matter what responsibilities he holds at any given time, he has dedicated his life to serving his community and making it a safer place. (Peterson is a Serve Daily contributor).