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Disaster Central
MCNY's Emergency and Disaster Management Blog

A Conversation with Kay

December 30, 2010

By Matthew Ricci-

MCNY President Vinton Thompson, Dean Humphrey Crookendale, and Program Director Ali Gheith, welcomed a small number of students and faculty members from the MPA in Emergency & Disaster Management (EDM) program, who had the pleasure of being part of an intimate conversation with Kay Goss, CEM—the former Associate Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Ms. Goss made herself available to members of the program to give the opportunity to share the work of our faculty and students, and give some feedback to how we can further develop our program.

Those in attendance included Professors Chuck Frank, Mick Maurer, Lorraine Motola, and Johnny Velez. The students in attendance were Bibi Leslie, Matthew Ricci, and Dilshad Jafarly, who were joined by alum Matthew Khaled, CEM. All were very grateful, not only for her having taken the time, but in her approachable demeanor and thoughtful advice – backed by years of pioneering the professionalization of the field.

At FEMA Kay Goss was in-charge of the National Preparedness, Training and Exercises Directorate, a position she held from 1994, when appointed by President Clinton, until 2001. She is currently the Senior Advisor for Emergency Management and Continuity Programs at SRT International, and has served as an adjunct professor at many institutions, including the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Ms. Goss who is very enthused about international programs also teaches at Istanbul Technical University (ITU) in person and via distance learning. Additionally, Ms. Goss is the Chair of the Education and Training Committee and member of the CEM Commission of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM).

The conversation started with an explanation of MCNY’s history as a program, starting with the creation of the curriculum after the 9/11 attacks, up to present day. Faculty and students discussed the program’s long term aspirations, history of overseas class projects in Israel, and future projects in Chile, England, and other countries. Ms. Goss shared the enthusiasm in further developing the program, and offered her own anecdotes about the history of education and professionalization in emergency management. The discussion was also about the successes of our six (6) international students that were brought over from Haiti to obtain an advanced degree in emergency management to implement academic concepts and theories in a practical setting once they return (to Haiti) with new skills and tools to help in the recovery effort and other phases of Comprehensive Emergency Management.

Ms. Goss also took the time to connect with each student in the room, beginning with very helpful advice of how to approach our Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) credentialing. She gave excellent advice to one student who had recently found success in creating a Business Continuity program at her organization.  This author personally benefited from her generous support with advice concerning documenting and publishing an upcoming trip to Hospital Bernard Mevs, a trauma/critical care hospital in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

With the program’s leadership constantly looking to stay current and find new approaches for ongoing development of the EDM program, the take away from such an accomplished and helpful woman as Ms. Goss was an extremely beneficial experience.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Emergency Management Planning, Emergency Preparedness, Government, Homeland Security, Interview, MCNY EDM Program. Comments Off on A Conversation with Kay

Disaster Central is also a resource for information relating to MCNY’s MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as providing insight and commentary on the topics of Disaster Management, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Joe Flood of “The Fires” – Part II

December 8, 2010

Joe Flood - The Fires

“Standing on the roof or floor above a blaze is the most dangerous place a fireman can position himself. Before the terrorists attacks of September 11th, 2001, the deadliest day in the history of the Fire Department of New York came when the first floor of a brownstone apartment building collapsed into a burning basement below, killing twelve firemen. Most of the deadliest blazes for American firefighters… were all collapses. But getting above the fire is precisely what the “Truckies” of a ladder company like Billy O’Connor’s do for a living.” –Joe Flood, The Fires

Chris Horan — On Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010, book author Joe Flood stood at a podium in the front of a packed room at Metropolitan College of New York, reading from the first chapter of his book, The Fires. His audience was composed of Emergency Management students and professors from the graduate program at MCNY, as well as visiting guests from the field.

The opening chapter of the book, from which Mr. Flood was reading, tells the story of a city in turmoil and its’ firefighters during a period of history the FDNY refers to as “The War Years”. During this period, budgetary limitations, mistakes, and corruption left the city vulnerable to a plague of fires which turned areas, including large portions of the South Bronx, to ashy rubble. The city was struggling to manage and contain fires, poverty, crime, and outbreaks of disease. At that time the city was in the early stages of using computational analysis to make policy decisions, with The Fires taking a look at the work of the RAND Corporation and the role it played.

Putting down the text, Flood points out that he originally was motivated to look into the possibility of racism being behind the politics that allowed so many fires to burn, but that as he researched more deeply, he found that truth to be far less complicated; it was political ineptitude. The use of computational analysis is important, he argued that policy decisions cannot be based on numbers alone; they lack “humanity and context”. Flood found that a “utopian, machinistic policy”, wherein computers could solve all of mankind’s trouble, was in vogue at the time. Use of these new ideas and techniques to counteract the policies of poor spending, left effects that can still be seen in the five boroughs today, in neighborhoods that never truly recovered.

The evenings’ discussion touched on race, politics, disease, pestilence, firefighting procedure, and economics from a period in time many modern New Yorkers may have forgotten. The dark times for the city in the 1960’s and 1970’s cannot be summed up in one book, though the smell of charred wood and ruined lives rises from the very pages of Joe Flood’s work. However, standing before his attentive audience, Mr. Flood was able to give life to a reality modern New Yorkers, in this field and others, hope never to see again.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Disaster Central, Events, Government. Comments Off on Joe Flood of “The Fires” – Part II

Disaster Central is also a resource for information relating to MCNY’s MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, as well as providing insight and commentary on the topics of Disaster Management, Emergency Management and Homeland Security.


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