Matt Nutt has been involved in public service all of his life. Being in the Boy Scouts, Nutt, who attained the rank of Eagle Scout, learned what it meant to be a public servant.
Now, as a system administrator for the Department of Public Safety, he's making sure emergency response teams throughout the state are able to communicate with each other when they need to.
Nutt works in the Missouri Interoperability Center on East McCarty Street. That's home to the statewide public safety interoperable communications system, known as the Missouri Statewide Interoperability Network (MOSWIN). MOSWIN is a network of communications towers, base stations and communications software. It went operational in January 2013.
State officials said this is one of the most valuable pieces of equipment they've put in place since 9/11, because before that tragedy, there was a lot of fragmented communication systems across Missouri and law enforcement, fire services and 911 centers could not talk to one another.
"I try to look at where there may be foreshadowings of trouble that we need to get ahead of so the first responders don't have issues with communication," Nutt said. "I worked on grants that helped fund what eventually became MOSWINS and a lot of us here in this office have been involved in different aspects of it from the beginning."
Nutt said hospitals and local health departments are also part of the MOSWINS network.
"Emergency responders can be in a pretty broad net," Nutt said. "A hospital emergency department might have a radio so they can talk to ambulances bringing in patients. Health department officials may need to communicate about the coordination of vaccinations. We also include critical infrastructure pieces, such as Bagnell Dam. They have a way to talk to first responders in case they have an issue there."
Nutt said they have put a lot of energy into making MOSWINS successful.
"A lot of what we're working on now is to add capacity — additional coverage in areas where there's more agencies having access to it," Nutt said. "Currently there are over 47,000 radios across the state that can use the system. It's growing and that's a good thing, but obviously we have to be out in front in case of a problem."
Nutt said there are times where the MIC staff and the system are put under stress, such as the May 2019 tornado in Jefferson City.
"During the tornado, we were working to make sure resources were available, but we also made sure that we stayed safe," Nutt said. "There's six of us that work full-time, supporting the whole state. We try to help cover each other. For the most part, because the system is built to public safety standards, we haven't had major issues and we have redundancy built in. It's an animal we have to keep constantly monitoring."
Originally from Southwest Missouri, Nutt became actively involved in the Boy Scouts, especially the honor programs such as Order of the Arrow.
"Up until recent years, I was very involved at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico," Nutt said. "They see (24,000-28,000) people come through in a three-month window. The Scout leaders teach how to hike and campers learn how to take care of themselves in the outdoors."
Nutt said he likes to see young people develop leadership skills and "spread their wings."
Changes have taken place in Scouting in recent years, in particular having girls be able to join. Nutt said people often ask him how he feels about this.
"Philmont has been co-ed for years, in both their staff and participants," Nutt said. "So we've been doing that for a long time. It's a program I've learned a lot from, and I want to give back."
"We have a saying out West — Scramble and be flexible — and that's pretty applicable to what I do at the MIC," Nutt said while laughing. "A lot of things I learned in Boy Scouts and what I've done with young adults you can bring back to what you do every day. So it's a full circle for me. Paying back your community through a different avenue."