WHAT: This September marks the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. September is also National Preparedness Month. As we remember the victims of 9/11 and honor the first responders, this month is also the perfect time to prepare and plan for future emergencies.

WHY: August proved to be quite an eventful month for the East Coast, with an unexpected earthquake followed by Hurricane Irene. As Hurricane Irene reached the Northeast coastal area, many people found themselves unaware of their community’s emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes, and locations of emergency shelters. As many scrambled to purchase last minute supplies from their local grocery and specialty stores, emergency food and materials were out of stock due to the rapid influx, thus proving the need to always have a “Go Bag” / Emergency Kit on hand.

Additionally, after the August 23 earthquake, many offices and buildings in the New York City area quickly realized they did not have solid Emergency and Disaster Response measures and procedures in place or an established method to communicate emergency messages to employees.  As cell phone lines quickly became jammed, many employees were left on their own when the decision to flee or stay came to mind.

National Preparedness Month was founded after 9/11 to increase preparedness in the United States.  Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. In times of crisis, it is important to be self-sufficient as police, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) may not always be able to reach you quickly, such as if trees or power lines are down or if they are overwhelmed by demand from the emergency.

WHO: Ali Gheith, Director of the Emergency and Disaster Management (EDM) program and George Contreras, Professor of EDM at Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) are available to discuss:

  • Proper Evacuation procedures
  • Tips for offices on how to develop effective Emergency Response systems
  • What should be included in your Emergency Kits and Go Bags
  • How to Stay Informed during an emergency
  • Developing an Emergency Plan for your families, your businesses and more

MCNY currently offers one of the few Masters-level degree programs in the country that focuses on Emergency and Disaster Management. Several of the program’s graduates currently manage EDM procedures for government and private agencies including response and evacuation measures. For more information, visit www.mcny.edu.

HOW: MCNY also recommends following three simple steps to begin your emergency preparations- Plan, Prepare and Stay Informed.

•          Get an Emergency Kit

•          Make a Plan

•          Be Informed

For more emergency preparedness information and planning tools, visit http://www.ready.gov.

* English & Spanish Language Interviews ARE AVAILABLE*

About Ali Gheith, Director, Emergency and Disaster Management Program, MCNY:

Professor Gheith is the recipient of the NYC distinguished Service Award for his work with community and faith leaders across New York City. Gheith joined Project Liberty immediately following the disastrous events of 9/11, where he outreached to union workers at ground zero, addressed the special needs of vulnerable population, and trained counselors on methods of providing culturally appropriate disaster mental health services to the community. In early 2003, Gheith joined the NYC DOHMH as a coordinator of Population Based Resilience. Professor Gheith has responded to every major crisis since 9/11.

About George Contreras, Professor, Emergency and Disaster Management Program, MCNY:

Professor Contreras serves as the president and chief executive officer of The GWC Group, an international emergency management consulting firm. He is also Associate Professor and Director of Allied Health Sciences at Kingsborough Community College of The City University of New York. He is former director of Emergency Management for New York University Medical Center. Contreras was the senior emergency manager in the Bureau of Emergency Management at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He served as adjunct faculty at New York University, New York Medical College and Hunter College. He’s a frequent lecturer at national and international conferences regarding EMS, public health, emergency and disaster management issues. He still works as a New York City paramedic and is credentialed as one of only 1,685 Certified Emergency Managers (CEM) in the United States by the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM).

About MCNY’s Emergency and Disaster Management Program:

MCNY’s 16-Month Master’s of Public Administration in Emergency and Disaster Management is one of the first graduate level degrees of its kind. It encompasses a highly specialized curriculum that covers planning, management, logistics, response, relief, recovery and the economics associated with managing emergency situations.  Examples of classes within this program include the “Economics of Hazards and Disasters,” “Public Health Systems and Preparedness, “Terrorism and Disaster Management” and Organizational and Municipal Continuity Planning.” An invaluable part of the program is the emergency and disaster management field experience which has taken placed in locations such as Israel and Chile.  For more information, visit www.mcny.edu.