Dowless to lead emergency services in Bladen County
By: Alan Wooten – Bladen Journal
ELIZABETHTOWN — Bladen County’s emergency services leader during two hurricanes 23 months apart has departed.
But with its recent hire, the county will still have someone intensely familiar with how Matthew and Florence delivered impact. Nathan Dowless was in the emergency operations command center for both, a volunteer worker more than happy to help out.
“The last two hurricanes, he called and asked if I would help as a volunteer at the EOC,” Dowless said of Bradley Kinlaw, the former director of emergency services. “So I was familiar with that for both of the last two hurricanes. Bradley is a friend.”
Dowless succeeds Kinlaw, who served the county nearly 10 years before departing for a position in Harnett County. The two have a lengthy history: Dowless has most recently sold fire trucks and equipment in a 14-county region, and he and Kinlaw knew each other growing up and served in the same volunteer fire department.
In his role, Dowless will oversee functions of emergency management; emergency medical services; Geographic Information Systems/E-911 addressing; planning; building inspections; and the office of the fire marshal.
“I’m settling in pretty good,” Dowless said. “I have a lot to learn. I came into a lot of hurricane stuff and I’m trying to learn about it, the lay of the land so to speak.”
He knows the job is about more than hurricanes and disasters. State level contacts are key, and he’s got Kinlaw a phone call away.
“He told me if you keep the best interests of the citizens of Bladen County in mind you’ll do all right,” he said. “He really cared about the county. I truly care about this county, and the citizens in it, and what we do. This is my way of giving back, or helping out the best way I see fit.”
Dowless, who grew up in the Abbottsburg area of Bladenboro, was a fire training coordinator at Bladen Community College for about half a decade.
“I think Nathan is a great asset to lead the Bladen County Emergency Services team as he has a known passion for public service to the citizens of Bladen County,” Kinlaw said. “The relationships that he already has with the emergency services team, partners and stakeholders in the county will prove to be invaluable during his journey. I have no doubt he will work that well with the team to take the customer service, level of service, response capabilities to record levels in their mission to serve the citizens and visitors of Bladen County.”
County Manager Greg Martin shares similar beliefs.
“Nathan brings a passion for emergency services, and, by having established relationships and an understanding of the community, he will be able to hit the ground running,” he said. “Nathan has a track record of success in previous positions and we are confident that the citizens of Bladen County will be well-served by Nathan’s leadership in this important role.”