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The MPA in Emergency and Disaster Management
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

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.

Special Powers Legislation, Terrorism, and Emergency Management

August 4, 2008

Throughout history, governments have during times of crisis devised and/or enacted special powers legislation as part of their efforts to thwart acts of terrorism, the growth of insurgency movements, and to allow for a more effective response to emergency situations.  In some instances, this special powers legislation has taken the form of martial law or curfews in the wake of a hydrological or seismological event, while in others it has resulted in significant changes to national law, protocol, and tradition.  In the United States, many on both sides of the political aisle point to the USA PATRIOT ACT as an example of special powers legislation – there are, however, differing views as to its efficacy and Constitutional legitimacy, and each side has its respective strengths and weaknesses.

There may also prove future instances where special powers legislation might be needed to enable a more robust response to, and recovery from, a catastrophic event.  Emergency managers at all levels of government may want to consider those scenarios under which special powers legislation might be needed, and what form this legislation would take.  In addition to curfews, special powers legislation might extend to containment and quarantine regulations and procedures, or to the handling of hundreds of thousands of decedent remains in an expeditious manner.  As part of their respective preparedness matrices, Emergency Management planners and policymakers may wish to consider the value and appropriateness of special powers legislation in advance of a catastrophic event.

What are your thoughts on the use of special or emergency powers legislation as a strategy and a tactic in the Emergency Management and Homeland Security communities?  Should there be limits to special powers legislation, and should all legislation of this type contain “sunset” or “renewal” clauses?  Is it possible that special powers legislation successfully prevents acts of terrorism?

Disaster Central welcomes your thoughts and insights.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Anti-Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism, Emergency Management Planning, Homeland Security. Comments Off

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.

McCain or Obama? Obama or McCain?

August 3, 2008

The 2008 US presidential election cycle is well underway.  Not surprisingly, the outcome of this election will have some (possibly major) effect on the Emergency Management and Homeland Security communities in the United States.  Whether you’re a supporter of (in alphabetical order) Senator John McCain or Senator Barack Obama, from an EM/HLS viewpoint, who do you think will prove a more effective leader for the EM and HLS fields?  Before responding, please consider those issues that impact the EM and HLS fields, including vision, funding, legislation, and loyalty.

Please note that Disaster Central’s professional standards prohibit interference in the political process through the providing of direct endorsements.  Disasters are non-partisan, and so is Disaster Central.  That does not, however, preclude Disaster Central’s readers from sharing their respective opinions of EM and HLS, and their relation to the 2008 US presidential election, in this blog.  We welcome your viewpoints.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Emergency Management Planning, Homeland Security. Comments Off

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.

MPA Emergency Management and Homeland Security Symposium

June 26, 2008

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSg2goHm_j4[/youtube]

The MPA program in Emergency and Disaster Management at Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) was pleased to welcome Joseph F. Bruno, Commissioner of the New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYC OEM), as the keynote speaker for our first annual Emergency Management and Homeland Security Symposium.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Emergency Management Planning, Homeland Security, MCNY EDM Program, Videos. Comments Off

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.

Welcome, Commissioner Bruno!

May 15, 2008

The MPA program in Emergency and Disaster Management at Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) is pleased to welcome Joseph F. Bruno, Commissioner of the New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYC OEM), as the keynote speaker for our first annual Emergency Management and Homeland Security Symposium, to be held June 18, 2008, at MCNY’s campus in lower Manhattan.  In the time that he has served as Commissioner, Mr. Bruno and his team of professionals have worked to effectively educate the people and systems of New York City on how to be better prepared in the face of natural, human, and technological emergencies. Commissioner Bruno’s presentation is part of NYC OEM’s continuing mission to provide New York City with the finest in emergency management.  MCNY is excited by this important educational opportunity.  Thank you, Commissioner!

Please stay tuned to MCNY’s Disaster Central blog for more details (including how to register) on our upcoming symposium.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Emergency Management Planning, Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security. Comments Off

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.

Congratulations, Mr. or Mrs. President!

April 29, 2008

Congratulations, you’ve just been elected the next President of the United States (POTUS). Based upon your present knowledge of the emergency management and homeland security disciplines in the nation, what would your top policy or operational priorities be in terms of these fields? What would your second and third priorities be?

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Posted by Disaster Central in Emergency Management Planning, Homeland Security. Comments Off

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.

The Titanic Crisis

April 17, 2008

I’d like to thank those of you who were able to attend our April 16 presentation, “The Titanic Crisis”, held at MCNY to commemorate the 96th anniversary of the Titanic disaster.

While it’s true that emergency management and homeland security specialists draw upon the experiential sciences in devising preparedness, response, and recovery protocols, it’s equally true that there’s a metaphysical approach to both fields – an approach that thus far is only (forgive the pun) the tip of the iceberg. As part of the presentation, I posited a “mythical” approach to the Titanic’s symbolic role in shaping many of the concepts emergency managers and homeland security professionals use today. Despite embodying some of the finest and most innovative technology of its day, the Titanic didn’t prove to be unsinkable, or even “virtually unsinkable”, and the ship’s demise was as shocking a technological failure as it was a human event that claimed the lives of over 1,500 men, women, and children. The seeming inevitability of the Titanic’s sinking (due, in large part, to the “incident pit” in which the ship found itself) leads us to wonder if there were factors (some actual and tangible, some symbolic) that influenced the final outcome, but remain specifically unknown to us today. This understanding formed the metaphysical thread that I used to link our interpretation of the Titanic disaster as a technological failure, and perhaps a failure of a larger and more amorphous magnitude. Some may contend that this failure is societal or cultural in nature, while others may apply a more philosophical or even religious patina to the events of April 14-15, 1912. To my mind, the ship’s builders and operators traded the metaphysical good sense of objectives for that technological hubris often mistaken as capability.

It’s well known that technology is good only when designed and applied with wisdom. I use the word “wisdom” guardedly because many aspects of emergency management and homeland security “wisdom” remain undefined and ill-used. Nearly seven years after the events of September 11, 2001, and just five years after the formation of the United States Department of Homeland Security, we’re still in the process of wresting from our experience, our knowledge, and our desires the metaphysical underpinnings of the emergency management and homeland security disciplines. Like the Titanic’s builders and operators, we perhaps limit our concepts and practices to what has been defined by past experience, or suits our more immediate objectives, such as commerce or political power. The Titanic wasn’t built to prove or disprove the wisdom or reality of an “unsinkable ship.” It was built to generate a profit by carrying passengers and cargo across the North Atlantic Ocean. And while the vessel was publicized as being “virtually sinkable”, this was a mere marketing tool, a reassuring nod to the seagoing public that the ship’s creators knew from past experience that crossing the Atlantic was always a dangerous business. Here we see the concept of risk turned into appeal, and that appeal (it was hoped) transformed into increased passenger patronage and profits. I’m reminded of an aeronautical engineer who once remarked that they could build an aircraft that would never crash, but it would never fly, either. Along a similar vein, had the Titanic truly been constructed (as they believed it had) to be unsinkable, it probably wouldn’t have floated – which it did…for a while.

But it’s within this paradox, this often tangential tension between reality and symbolism…between preparedness and fantasy…that the metaphysical aspects of emergency management and homeland security exist. There’s a body of knowledge regarding these two fields that influences our plans and actions, but is of yet unknown to us. It can be said that we’ll know more after the next disaster occurs, and from an experiential viewpoint, the point is a valid one. Of the two fields, emergency management is presently geared more toward recovery than either preparedness or response; and when it does engage the anticipatory approach, it’s in order to determine the parameters of a particular type of recovery. And while homeland security’s mission is characterized by a more “anticipatory” approach than is emergency management, its doctrinal (and conceptual) foundations remain unfinished.

Even nearly a century after its loss, the Titanic continues to provide intellectual fodder for the EM and HLS communities. This source material, paid for that night by the sheer terror experienced by 2,200 people, inspires us to learn its many bitter lessons – one of which is that there’s a lot less to technology (or capabilities) than one might think, and much more to “attitude” or objectives than one may know.

Professor Longshore

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Posted by Disaster Central in Evacuation, Homeland Security, MCNY EDM Program. Comments Off

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.

Welcome to Disaster Management Blog

March 20, 2008

I’m Professor Ali Gheith, director of the MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security at Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY), and I cordially welcome you to our Emergency Management blog, Disaster Central. It’s a catchy name, I know, but particularly so because of the vital subject matter it covers.

Right now at Disaster Central, we’re discussing numerous general topics relating to Emergency Management and Homeland Security, such as:

  • Counter-Terrorism and Anti-Terrorism
  • Maritime Domain Protection
  • Intelligence and Information-Sharing
  • Emergency Management Planning
  • Airline and Transportation Security
  • Critical Infrastructure Protection
  • Public Sector Continuity
  • Exercise Design
  • Human Services
  • Evacuation and Sheltering
  • Emergency Preparedness

Within each of these topics, Disaster Central features themed discussions that draw upon historical, operational, cultural, economic, philosophical, technological, political, and other sources and examples to create an on-line forum for the advancement of knowledge, insights, and wisdom relating to the Emergency Management and Homeland Security disciplines.

Disaster Central also posts topics relating to past emergency management and homeland security events, including historic natural, human-made, and technological disasters. In these posts, participants can discuss the circumstances behind some of history’s catastrophes, both large and small, as well as the often-harsh lessons learned.

Disaster Central is also a resource for information relating to MCNY’s MPA program in Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and on how you can apply for admission to this selective program.

While one of the cardinal rules in politics is never make it personal, and never take it personally, Disaster Central respectfully requests that participants avoid engaging in personal attacks, threats, inflammatory language, and other unprofessional behaviors that can hinder an intelligent and relevant discourse on emergency management and homeland security topics. This includes the use of profanity. Thank you in advance for your professional cooperation, and welcome to Disaster Central, MCNY’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security blog.

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Posted by Disaster Central in Airline Security, Anti-Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism, Critical Infrastructure Protection, Emergency Management Planning, Emergency Preparedness, Exercise Design, Homeland Security, Human Services, Intelligence and Information-Sharing, Maritime Domain Protection, Natural Disasters, Public Sector Continuity, Sheltering. Comments Off

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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