John Osbourn is the new director of emergency services for Calaveras County, following the late April resignation of the former director, Michelle Patterson.
The Emergency Services director manages the county’s emergency programs and staff, and coordinates budgetary, planning, response and hazard mitigation efforts related to disasters.
The recruitment process for hiring Osbourn included an initial application screening by Human Resources, a panel interview by four people, including both internal and external panelists and a final interview, according to Al Alt, the county’s current administrative officer. Osbourn’s starting salary is $102,523.20.
With more than two decades of experience serving as a first responder, Osbourn comes to Calaveras from Yuba County, where he worked as a private investigator for the past three years.
He briefly served as the police chief for the city of Williams in Colusa County north of Sacramento from 2015 to 2016, but he spent the majority of his career in law enforcement at the Marysville Police Department. Before attending a police academy in the late 1990s, Osbourn was a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician for several years.
Over his tenures, he has undertaken various emergency management roles during major floods and fires.
“My very first day as a police officer was the Yuba Sutter Flood of 1997, where we evacuated the entire town and the town next to us,” Osbourn said in his office Monday, his first day on the job. “It was one of the largest evacuations at the time. Since then, I’ve worked through field assignments and, ultimately, as a division commander. I took strike teams to assist inside and outside the county. That gives me a broader scope that I can bring to Calaveras in order to help the supervisors carry out their vision for what emergency management looks like here.”
More recently, Osbourn was on the frontlines of the Oroville Dam crisis and the Cascade Fire in 2017. He was also situated about 20 miles from the Camp Fire in Paradise last year.
“I think that helps me identify with our community residents that are still healing from the Butte Fire,” Osbourn said. “You can rebuild a road or replant the side of a hill that was burned, but the emotional scars and trauma that comes with surviving a major incident like that is something that’s not lost upon me, and I think I can identify better having lived that personally.”
A Nevada County native, Osbourn has a Bachelor of Science degree in emergency services management and a Master’s in Administrative Leadership. He is a graduate of the FEMA Emergency Management Institute and has earned certificates from the National Emergency Management Academy.
Osbourn said he thinks that his “varied background of experiences” will allow him to “adapt easily to the rural environment of Calaveras County.”
Reaching residents through the county’s alert system, CalaverasALERT has been a tremendous challenge for the department; roughly 14,500 people – just over 30% of residents in the county – are enrolled. With that in mind, Osbourn remains positive and fixed on creating a “culture of personal preparedness.”
“There’s 46,000 residents spread over 1,100 square miles of the county, and it’s my hope that I can help them become more resilient and prepared to face both small and large emergencies and be able to be resilient from those,” Osbourn said. “It starts with awareness and making small adjustments to how you conduct yourself every day, and you can use that as a building block to build a more resilient prepared community.”
He encouraged residents to sign up for CalaverasALERT.
“If you haven’t signed up for the text notifications, then we can’t reach you,” he said.
Beyond emergency coordination, Osbourn raises cattle, mentors children interested in agricultural careers and works with youth rodeo programs. He plans to eventually relocate to the county with his wife, Megan Osbourn, and their two daughters.
Osbourn said that his prior relationship working with Alt in Yuba County will serve emergency and communication services in Calaveras County well.