Disaster planner dies suddenly: Wisecup a ‘bright light’ in emergency management

Jamye Wisecup

Jamye Wisecup

PORT ANGELES — An Emergency Management program coordinator who coworkers and friends said has been instrumental in preparing Clallam County for disaster died unexpectedly this week.

Jamye Wisecup died a day after she collapsed while giving a presentation to the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, said Clallam County Undersheriff Ron Cameron as he informed county staff in an email Thursday.

“Jamye was a bright light anywhere she went and so important to our department,” Cameron wrote in the email. “But, while time and experience can replace the void created by this loss in Clallam County Emergency Mgt., nothing will make up for the personality and happiness she shared with us and communities across the county.

“Even at the state level, this loss is resonating a deep sorrow with everyone connected with emergency management.”

Wisecup, 64, had served Clallam County since 2004. She died in a Seattle hospital after a medical incident. It was not clear Thursday what she died of.

Cameron said she had become known statewide for her wide knowledge of emergency management and for her dedication to preparing people for the worst.

Cameron said Wisecup is survived by her husband and two adult children.

Wisecup was involved in so many organizations or groups related to emergency preparedness that coworkers and friends struggled to list every one of them.

Cameron said most recently she had been working with high school students and leading an effort to determine how to care for pets and livestock after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake strikes, an event experts say will happen one day.

Cameron said her greatest accomplishment at the county was becoming the “heart and soul of emergency management and her ability to connect with her community,” he said.

“We wouldn’t be anywhere without people like her and especially the effort she put in to making people aware of our looming dooms and things like that,” Cameron said, crediting her for taking charge on the All-Hazard Alert Broadcast sirens in Clallam County, working with the county’s Community Emergency Response Teams and being involved with the community.

Friend and colleague Hollie Kaufman, former director of emergency management of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, called Wisecup an inspiration.

She recalled working on her Certified Emergency Manager certificate with Wisecup, who was always encouraging.

On Monday, Kaufman said she and Wisecup were involved in an exercise that simulated what would happen if people came in contact with an animal that had a contagious disease during a disaster.

“She was always like a fireball,” Kaufman said. “There are so many things she was involved in and really tried to do well. I don’t know how she kept things going.”

She said Wisecup was dedicated, loyal and always willing to find common ground with people as she worked to promote emergency management and emergency preparedness.

“She was my very dear friend and I’m going to miss her so badly,” Kaufman said. “I want people to know how dedicated she was. I so admired how she was able to do what she was able to do.”

Clallam County Commissioner Mark Ozias said he will remember Wisecup for how professional she was and how well respected she was around the state for her leadership.

“The reality is that Clallam County is one of the best-positioned counties in the state in terms of our position to respond to significant emergencies, most particularly the Cascadia Earthquake that will hit one day,” Ozias said.

Ozias said that while Wisecup spent much of her time working at the courthouse, much of what she did involved working with citizens, organizations and emergency responders.

“She really had a gift for engaging the community in a meaningful way in work that can be challenging to keep people involved in over a sustained period of time,” Ozias said. “She had a gift of doing that effectively.”

Ozias expressed his condolences to Wisecup’s family and friends.

“I think there’s no doubt the residents of our county have a lot to say ‘thank you’ for and a lot to be proud of,” Ozias said.

“She is someone who worked on our behalf and who represented our collective interests at the highest levels and to the highest standards of excellence.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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