Storm Response Team

Brandon Copic - Executive Director & Founder  Email Brandon
At an early age Brandon was interested in weather after experiencing an F1 in Temperance, Michigan in 1997 his interest in weather skyrocketed, as well as his fear of nighttime storms. That fear became an intense curiosity and Brandon begin studying meteorology early on in life to educate himself on the science behind the storms in order to get over his fear. In 2010 Brandon started pursuing his fear passionately through storm chasing. Brandon has built a strong relationship with national networks such as The Weather Channel, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, etc through his work in the field. Brandon has covered, and responded to multiple violent weather events such as Category 4 Hurricane Laura ('20), El Reno, OK Tornado ('13), Lee County, AL EF-4 ('19), and the Chapman, KS EF-4 ('16) just to name a few. After covering the devastating Category 4 Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, LA Brandon did search and rescue for a few hours afterwards, and had to reluctantly leave the area to return home to work at his full time job. After this experience he decided he wanted to pursue his passion of helping others full-time and thus the ChaserWx Storm Response Team was born by combining his passion for storm tracking and helping others by creating a RAPID Storm Response Team to help areas impacted by natural disasters within minutes to hours of a natural disaster occurring.  When not at work Brandon loves nothing more than to relax with his loving fiance Valerie, and their 1 year old son, Cooper. 

Russ Aikman - Board Member & Emergency Response Training Officer  
In late 2020 Russ was approached by Executive Director, Brandon, to discuss if Russ would be interested in joining the ChaserWx Team with the objective of Disaster Relief, and Russ was happy to join the operation. Russ knew early in life that he wanted nothing more to help people and with all his experience so far Russ has more than accomplished that goal. Russ is a United States Air Force Security Forces Veteran, a former Police K-9 Sergeant and K-9 Trainer, currently he is an active EMT, as well as a certified Firefighter. Russ continues to serve his community through his involvement with the American Red Cross, and through his own business Buckeye CPR Training Inc. Russ is a certified Public Information Officer through FEMA and is certified in Incident Command through FEMA as well, IS 100,200,700,800 ICS 300, 400 as well as G290/G291 Basic PIO, and E388 Advanced PIO. Russ has been deployed on over 30 active disasters, and is excited for his future with the ChaserWx Storm Response Team. Russ has worked closely with the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, as well as county EMA's, and volunteers countless hours at the American Red Cross. When Russ is not working Russ loves spending time at home with his beloved K-9 family members Duchess (aka Moose), and Loki.

Kayla McKenna - First Aid & CPR Instructor, Field Operations 
Growing up Kayla always enjoyed watching thunderstorms outside her window. Watching lightning crawl across the sky was her favorite. In Kayla‚Äôs teen years, she found a new interest in snow living in the snow belt of Ohio. She saw first had how fast several inches to feet of snow can fall. As an adult Kayla became more interested in severe weather and the devastation natural disasters leave behind after the unexpected tornado outbreak on August 24th 2016. Becoming more aware of how powerful and destructive Mother Nature can be lead Kayla to want to learn more about storms and the science behind them, and how to help those who have been so deeply impacted by these natural disasters. This lead to her role with the ChaserWx Storm Response Team in early 2020. Kayla is a certified First Aid and CPR Instructor with a passion for nature, the outdoors, and helping others, and is very excited for the opportunity to help others through the ChaserWx Storm Response Team's field deployments through the 2021 Severe Weather Season and Beyond! When Kayla is not working she loves nothing more than hiking and spending time outdoors.. 

Adam Benner - Communications Officer, Field Operations
Growing up in the small town of Oak Harbor, Ohio Adam grew up with an intense curiosity for severe weather an natural disasters starting with a tornado that struck Oak Harbor on June 24th, 1998. The damage it caused and impact it left was not something Adam could get out of his head and he quickly became interested in the science behind the storms and the damage they cause. Studying storms little by little as he grew older Adam began pursuing his passion literally and began chasing storms in 2012. With the field experience Adam has attained through chasing he is excited to utilize this during field operations. Adam's role is a vital one in the operations with the team during the event of natural disasters Adam is in charge of linking up with local emergency management to be the vital bridge between our operation and local authorities during a natural disaster to allow the ChaserWx Storm Response Team to be used in the most efficient way possible in order to help save lives. 

Katie Miller - Medical Specialist, Field Operations  
Katie first discovered her love of weather when she witnessed her first tornado at four years old. As she got older, she was obsessed with the weather, most particularly severe weather, and how it impacted communities. As a teenager, she dreamed of being able to study weather, but life had different plans, leading her into the medical field where she graduates in May 2021 as a Medical Assistant. A local Tornado Outbreak on 8/24/16 reignited Katie's passion for weather, Katie decided to get back to her passion for weather. The college she studies at was narrowly missed by less than a mile from a large, violent tornado, and she realized that her knowledge and quick thinking helped get many people to safety that day as she had been watching the radar that day and helped campus security clear the building into the storm shelter. It was this moment she felt called to follow her dreams of chasing storms and helping those affected by natural disasters. This lead to her finding others who shared her passion, which lead to her meeting Brandon Copic, and joining the ChaserWx Storm Response Team. 

Austin Hespe - Meteorologist, Field Operations  
Growing up in the small town of Defiance, Ohio Austin as a kid knew he had an intense passion and curiosity for weather that most kids his age did not, anytime weather was changing, Austin was looking out the window watching the lightning or admiring the process of a storm developing before his eyes. His passion for the weather was fueled even more by the variety of storms that impacted Defiance through his childhood. The curiosity on how storms worked and why some storms would impact people more severely than others led him to Ball State University where I he has pursued a Bachelor's degree in Meteorology, with a minor in Emergency Management. Going to Ball State opened  his eyes to the world and his heart to a passion of wanting to help those during times of disaster. Our country and our world have been affected by ever-worsening natural disasters fueled by climate change. Austin is fueled by his passion to not only obtain a better understanding of the weather but how we can mitigate the destruction of these worsening storms, and be on the front line helping those who are affected with the hope of saving lives. Austin is excited to graduate from Ball State University in the Spring of 2021 with his degree in Meteorology, and excited to use this knowledge to help those in need.

Ben Kessler - Board Member & Emergency Management Specialist

Benjamin Kessler is a 37 year old father of 3 wonderful children, Khloey 8, Landyn 7, McKenzie 5. Ben has had a passion for weather his entire life, at first it started with snow storms, sharing the infectious passion witnessing Jim Cantore from The Weather Channel, Jim has such intense passion that inspired Ben tremendously. Ben's passion for storms increased with the release of the movie Twister, and that's when the idea of being a chaser was first born into his mind. Ben's first real taste of was a local event that happened on 6/5/2010 and the last deadly tornado to hit NW Ohio, seeing the destruction afterwards really hit home and with it narrowly missing his grandmother by less then a mile she credited her time getting to the basement on me calling her 15 minutes ahead and that's when it truly hit me that I needed to explore it more. The following spring I became a spotter for the local weather office out of Northern Indiana, since then Ben has traveled tens of thousands of miles pursuing his passion. On 8/24/16 Ben pursued a tornado outbreak and seeing intense the damage in Celina Ohio He I realized his true calling of wanting to work in disaster aid or become an EMA, so he decided to pursue, and successfully achieve a master's degree in leadership with an emphasis on disaster prep and executive fire leadership and further that by receiving his second masters in business administration. Brandon has been a huge contributor to the desire to help people and loved the idea when he called me wanting to get the ball rolling on helping those so severely impacted by natural disasters. Ben is excited for what the future holds for team ChaserWx and all the good our operation will be able to achieve helping others and saving lives!