Just days before Hurricane Idalia threatens Florida, McCrane retires as emergency management chief for Sarasota County

Search underway for his successor

(Editor’s note: This article was updated the evening of Sept. 1 to correct the date that Ed McCrane began service in the U.S. Army.)

Ed McCrane makes a point during a May 2019 presentation to Siesta Key Association members. File photo

Some Sarasota County residents watching updates on Hurricane Idalia this week likely found it odd that Rich Collins, director of the county’s Emergency Services Department, was offering remarks instead of Emergency Management Chief Ed McCrane.

As noted in an Aug. 22 county news release, McCrane has left public service after 40 years, 18 of them with Sarasota County.

On his LinkedIn account, McCrane wrote, “I am currently serving as the Director of Emergency Management for @USA UP STAR, A Global Disaster Response firm based in Greenwood, Indiana. I will be working remotely from the Sarasota/Bradenton area.”

The county news release noted, “McCrane was appointed Emergency Management Chief on Oct. 21, 2005, when Sarasota County’s Emergency Operations Center was activated for Hurricane Wilma.” From that point on, the release continued, McCrane “worked to coordinate improvements across the division,” including bringing on board several new staff members. The release said he built up the Emergency Management team that led the county through Hurricane Ian in 2022.

McCrane served at the federal, state and local levels throughout his public service career, the release pointed out. He also was “an ambassador to our community as a disaster preparedness educator.”

McCrane provided hours of presentations and informative discussions to community residents about emergency response and disaster preparedness, the release explained. “These efforts have educated not only the Sarasota County community and businesses, but local governments and partners across the state.”

McCrane was an annual presenter at Siesta Key Associations (SKA) for many years, drawing crowds of members eager to hear not only about Emergency Management recommendations and procedures, but also to hear McCrane’s anecdotes about his own experiences.

For example, in May 2019, when McCrane was discussing Hurricane Irma’s impact on the county in September 2017, he noted that he was allowed three hours the day before Irma’s arrival to head to his own home so he could put up his storm shutters. When he reached his house, he said, he learned that his neighbors across the street already had taken care of that work for him.

When he went over to thank the neighbors, McCrane added, he offered to help them with their preparations, but they said they had no shutters. He asked where they planned to stay, and they told him they would stay at home.

McCrane said he then invited them to stay with his wife and dog.

By that night, he continued, he believed 10 adults, three children and five dogs were gathered in his house, waiting for Irma. “I think they’re buying hurricane shutters now,” he added of his neighbors.

Emergency Services Director Rich Collins addresses the County Commission in June 2020. News Leader image

“In the county news release, Emergency Services Director Collins said, “It is an honor to have worked with Ed during his time at Sarasota County,”. “The outreach he has done leaves a legacy here and has helped our community be better prepared,” Collins noted in the release. “We look forward to a continued partnership with him in his future endeavors and wish him all the best.”

During his time with Sarasota County, McCrane served either as incident manager or part of the Unified Command team “for eight tropical storms, three major hurricanes, the H1N1 (Swine Flu) pandemic,” the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill in 2010, the aftermath of the 2016 Siesta Key tornado strike, and the COVID-19 pandemic, the county news release added.

Further, McCrane had served in the past as the West Florida Region 4 coordinator for the Florida Division of Emergency Management, as well as coordinator of Florida National Guard support to civil authorities in Central Florida “during times of a major or catastrophic disaster and/or civil unrest,” his LinkedIn account notes. The latter effort won him the Florida Distinguished Service Medal, the county news release pointed out.

“He also supported disaster recovery efforts of counties throughout the state, most recently in Lee County after Hurricane Ian,” where he coordinated with local governments and support organizations, the release said.

“He proudly served his country in the U.S. Army and is a retired Master Sergeant,” the release continued. His Army career began in April 1981 and ended in April 2003, his LinkedIn account says.

The Emergency Management staff “will work toward a seamless transition” in hiring the next chief of Emergency Management, the release added.

During the search for McCrane’s successor, the release said, Emergency Services Director Collins; Scott Montgomery, an Emergency Management section chief who retired in June 2021; and Emergency Operations Manager EJ Landrith “will ensure the continuity of operations.”