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Johnson, Brinkman promoted to key St. Louis County emergency management positions

Two individuals who played critically important emergency management roles for St. Louis County during situations including the COVID-19 pandemic, construction of Line 3, multiple flooding events including the 2022 flooding in the Rainy River Basin, and other natural disasters have now been promoted.

Duane "Dewey" Johnson has been promoted to Emergency Support Services Administrator, a role that oversees the Emergency Management Division and 911 Emergency Communications.


Johnson has worked for the county since 1995, starting as a 911 Emergency Communications Specialist. In 2015, he took on the role of Emergency Management Coordinator, a position that was reclassified in 2020 as Emergency Operations Manager. He is the former fire chief and town supervisor in Grand Lake, and has served as president of both the regional and state-wide Emergency Management Associations. He was honored as the Emergency Management Professional of the Year in 2022 by the Minnesota Homeland Security Emergency Management Division.

"To know Dewey is to be impressed by his calm demeanor, his incredible coordination skills, his commitment to serve and his genuine niceness," said Sheriff Gordon Ramsay. "It's been said that Dewey accomplishes more by accident than most of us can do with major effort. He is so highly respected by all who know him, and we are all better served with him in this role."


Meanwhile, Josh Brinkman has been promoted to Emergency Operations Manager. Brinkman started as an intern trainee with the Sheriff's Office in 2019. He was hired as a planner in 2020, serving both the Sheriff's Office and Public Health throughout the pandemic, before shifting focus more solely towards Sheriff's Emergency Management. In this role, he will be responsible for creating emergency plans, connecting and working alongside partners, finding solutions to potential hazards, and directly responding to emergency situations.

Brinkman holds a degree in Emergency Management from North Dakota State University, and previously served five years in the Marine Corps as a Military Police Officer. He also is an auxiliary member of the St. Louis County Sheriff's Volunteer Rescue Squad. "Josh has already established trusted working relationships with so many of the emergency response agencies in our county and region," said Ramsay. "He is a quiet leader and a strategic thinker, and if anyone can fill the big shoes left by Dewey, it is Josh."

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, through its Emergency Support Services, is responsible for disaster preparation, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts across the county's 7,000 square miles, to provide better safety for all residents and visitors. To learn more, visit

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