Emergency Management Coordinator has medical background

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


While Marissa Reisen?s goal when she attended college was to investigate causes of death, her job as the Washington County Emergency Management Coordinator for Washington County has her working with life.

Marissa Reisen grew up in Muscatine, attending the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, majoring in anthropology coupled with a certificate program in forensic death investigation. She said the school hadn?t run the program in a manner that allowed her to become a death investigator. She lived in Milwaukee for a couple of years before moving back to Iowa to work at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics emergency room. She also worked at IDT in Coralville before returning to college to earn a master?s degree in emergency management. She interned with B.J. Dvorak at Mercy Iowa City with the emergency management program. She said that she was working at West Liberty Foods when the Washington County job was posted.

She and her husband Chad have two children, Fianna and Spencer.


What brings you to Washington County?

I have always wanted to come back to a small town. Muscatine is a big town compared to Washington, but after living in Milwaukee and I lived in Waco, Texas, for a semester, and Salt Lake City. Small towns are where it is at. I am a much more smal- town kind of girl.


Since you have been in Washington County, what do you think?

I?m enjoying it. I love the job. I like the people I have been working with a lot. Everyone is really supporting and eager to do what they can to support emergency preparedness in Washington County.


How did you get into emergency management?

My husband is a former Marine and he is very prepared for anything that can happen. After a le down ? I had wanted to go into forensics for 10 years when I graduated with my degree and was ready to do forensic science and found out I wasn?t where I wanted to be. Seven years after I graduated I went back to school. It just made sense with what I had been doing in the meantime. I was working in the ER and got my EMT in there. It seemed to make sense. I gave it a shot.


What should everyone know about emergency preparedness?

You are never as prepared as you think you are. Everyone thinks of the big things you need to do. There are a lot of small things you can do. Having three days of supplies is what the government preaches. Some people live paycheck to paycheck and can?t afford that. I have a handout that is 20 weeks to preparedness. It is little things you can do every week. It doesn?t have to be that extreme. You don?t have to have a bunker in your backyard.


Why did you want to become an ME?

It started in eighth grade. My godmother worked for a book publishing company. I was a big Nancy Drew fan growing up and she got me a Patricia Cornwall book, The Body Farm. I read the book and thought that was cool stuff. In science class we watched The Forensic Files from the Discovery Channel and it was science and mystery. It really sparked my interest. When I graduated high school in 2001 there was starting to be an influx into that kind of program. I had a hard time finding a college program like that.


What are some of your hobbies?

With two kids I mostly just deal with kids and kids stuff. I chase them around. I am a big baseball fan. We go to Milwaukee and go to baseball games. I love to read. Leaders are readers.