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In 2005, Mr. Friend started working in Emergency Medical Services, in San Diego, California. During this time, he responded to his first disaster, Hurricane Rita in 2005 and the San Diego Fire Storm 2007. In 2008, he became a Specialty Firefighter with the US Forest Service “Prescott Hotshots,” spending over 1,800 Hours on emergency/disaster incidents across the USA, including Hurricane Gustav in 2008.
After completing his BS in Global Security and Intelligence, he began contracting overseas with King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which treats over 1 million patients annually. He became the first Emergency Manager and then Director for the hospital & was nominated to consult on the CBRN Committee to draft the CBRN National Action Plan for the Kingdom. From 2015 through 2019 he received 5 international awards for Emergency Management and has spoken professionally in 6 countries at over 40 events. In 2017, he was recognized by the Physician to the President of the USA for his support for multiple Presidential visits to the Kingdom including President Barack H. Obama & President Donald J. Trump, while also conducting planning for the late and the current King, Salman Al Saud.
In 2018, he led the first Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) accreditation of a hospital in the world and was 1 of 40 executives chosen to attend FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute Executive Leadership Academy. During this time, he served in the role of Adviser for the Saudi Arabian Government for Emergency Management. Due to his experience with the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) in Saudi Arabia, he was requested to serve as the State Emergency Operations Center Chief of Staff for the State of Maryland for the response to COVID-19 and is currently on the steering committee for the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), through US State Department to protect American interests in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Friend is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), maintains his National Registry EMT and holds a Masters Degree in Emergency Management & Homeland Security. He is currently the Deputy Director for the Illinois Department of Health and is responsible for the Office of Preparedness & Response.