‘We can do this’: Alice Busch behind emergency response efforts in MultCo


Busch is division chief for MultCo Emergency Operations

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Alice Busch’s skills have been put to the test over the past year.

As division chief of operations for Multnomah County’s Emergency Operations Center, she’s played a significant role in not only getting vaccines in citizens’ arms but responding to natural disasters like wildfires and landslides. She even coordinated the response effort during a Legionnaires’ disease breakout last year at a Portland nursing home.

But this is merely a snapshot of what she does.

“I’m on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said. “Usually that’s not so bad (because) there’s not usually a lot going on that exceeds everybody else’s capacity. But these past 15 months have been a pretty long, long, long 15 months.”

Alice Busch works behind the scenes on emergency response efforts throughout Multnomah County. (KOIN)

Throughout all the disasters and emergencies seen on the news, Busch has worked behind the scenes on the response effort, keeping her up until the wee hours of the morning.

“In fact, when the landslide happened in our Eagle Creek burn area, I had gone to bed at 3:30 in the morning because I was working on the Legionnaires outbreak, and I think I was in bed for five minutes before I got the call for the landslide and that was a long 48 hours. But that’s not usual.”

Busch, who has been in emergency management for 30 years, said landslides are a common issue with significant impacts on human life.

Today, Busch is overseeing COVID-19 vaccination distribution in Multnomah County.

“I’m coordinating this, yes, but you see all the other people working here, right,” she said.

After all, Busch can’t do her job alone. It takes a lot of other people, too.

Busch said she is honored to be nominated as a Remarkable Woman, but is also quick to make it clear that it’s not all about her, and that other women have influenced her to be the woman she is today.

“I think there was a turning point for me several years ago, when I first met Marissa Madrigal who was COO of the county at the time, and she was a young Latinx woman and I’d never seen someone that looked like me in that high of a position of power,” she said. “And I was like, ‘Oh we can do this.’ And I know it might sound silly, but it really is important, I think, to see people like you doing important things and it makes you reach for the stars for a bit.”

KOIN 6 and Portland’s CW want to recognize the great contributions women have made to our nation and local communities. Remarkable Women is part of a nationwide Nexstar Media initiative to honor the influence that women have had on public policy, social progress and the quality of life.

Throughout Women’s History Month, KOIN 6 and Portland CW will highlight four local women who inspire, lead and forge the way for other women. It’s not just about one day or one month — it’s about what they do, day-in and day-out.

One woman will be named our area’s Woman of the Year and win a $1,000 donation to her charity of choice! From the more than 100 local winners, one woman will be selected and named Nexstar Media Group’s Woman of the Year.

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