Since his senior year in high school, Scott Ruf has found his calling in emergency service work.
His passion for the business has taken him from New York to Washington state, with Indiana somewhere in between. Ruf has worked in many aspects of emergency services, from administrative duties to field commander for a regional SWAT team.
He was on the scene following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He’s dealt with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and wildfires.
Ruf’s newest responsibilities have landed him in Lawrence, as director of the Douglas County Emergency Communications Center. Barely a week into the job, Ruf took some time to explain the ins and outs of the business as well as his plans for the county agency.
Where was your last assignment?
Ruf: I just left Washington state in the city of Kennewick where I was captain for staff services and division commander.
How long have you been involved in this kind of work?
Ruf: I’ve been involved in public safety since ’86-’87. When I was younger I worked in the fire service. I got involved in something that landed me in communications and it was a pretty good gig, and I got good at it. In this type of work if you become a really effective and well-rounded public safety administrator there are a lot of opportunities around the country. You pretty much build your own career.
What brought you to Lawrence?
Ruf: To be honest, I get bored occasionally. Well not bored, but I look for opportunities. I was looking for my own emergency communication center and all things being equal, I had come out here a couple times and really liked the area. On a personal level, you have a major university here in KU. I have a master’s in public administration, but I always wanted to pursue my doctorate or Ph.D. and they have both those programs here. I’m motivated more by opportunities than by money, and being single makes it a lot easier to make those decisions.
What are your job responsibilities?
Ruf: I oversee the day-to-day operations of this communication center: the administrative duties, budget, personnel, the communications infrastructure. It will all be evaluated based on need and, of course, money. It’s only my sixth day so it’s just getting my feet wet. I think I’m up to my chest as far as things getting wet. My role right now is to come in and do a top to bottom assessment and process review of everything.
Do you have to familiarize yourself with the community and visually bind yourself to what happens on the radio?
Ruf: I’ve always taken that approach because I have to understand both sides. It helps. It’s important that we’re not just stuck in a room, that we’re accessible out there.
Where do you want this communication center to go?
Ruf: I want it to be one of the best, top-notch professional facilities of its type in the state, if not the region and the country and that takes time. It takes people. It takes money. So there’s going to be some challenges ahead.