(New York City) Over 50 national leaders from both the public and private sector, along with non-profit executives, joined together and attended the 7th annual BE Safe America kick-off in New York City this past Thursday, August 24. The half-day briefing, sponsored by the UPS Foundation, was staged on the 53rd floor of the new One World Trade Center skyscraper to stimulate greater collaboration to mitigate the impact of severe catastrophic events on the New York, Northeast and the entire U.S. populations.
Focus Topics included:
– active shooter incidents – now being termed ‘active assailants’ – and what needs to be done to train every American in how to survive an assailant
– the growing cyber threats and how to survive them, plus
– the heightened risks of having a ‘gap’ in communicating to the public during emergencies due to the growing reliance on cell phones and wireless devices in everyday life, by both individuals and media networks.
The Weather Channel’s Meteorologist Bryan Norcross, well-known for covering major disasters such as Hurricane Andrew, SKYPE’d into the briefing from Miami. Norcross pointed out how media’s growing reliance on cell towers, and individuals lack of portable radios, risks the public not being able to receive the same level of disaster information as they did 25 years ago during Hurricane Andrew. Norcross noted that unlike the situation in South Florida then, televisions stations like NBC’s WTVJ-TV are less ‘hard-wired’ and are more dependent onwireless communications. This means that if cell towers cease to transmit, the public could face a loss in broadcast signals. He also noted that as Americans have dropped having battery-operated radios, it has reduced the public’s access to updates during severe weather as they are totally dependent on cell phones to receive information. Norcross pointed out that during the pre-Internet and wireless era, Americans were actually receiving the most non-interrupted information during storms because ground wires/cable were not subject to being disrupted.
FEMA’s Mike Moriarty noted the growing risks that climate change is bringing to the New York / New Jersey coastline, stressing that eroding shores will dramatically affect the Northeast over the next 25 – 30 years. Moriarty and colleague, Russell Fox, (seen here at left) stressed FEMA’s willingness to help address critical issues and make Americans better-prepared for any form of disaster.
Pagano noted that BE Safe America will next head to Capitol Hill, to brief Congressional staffers on these and other developments. Thanks to Senator Joe Manchin (WV) and Senator Johnny Isakson (GA) and their staffs, the next briefing will be held at the Russell Office Building on Capitol Hill. Also helping plan the Washington, D.C. briefing with Ms. Roscoe are: Kathy Fulton, executive director for the American Logistics Aid Network; Safe America Board Member Carlos Glatt and UPS Foundation’s Joe Ruiz.
Also invited to attend and speak is Andrew Brennan, CEO of the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation, working to build a national monument in Washington, D.C. to honor those soldiers who have fought since 9/11 to eliminate the risk America faces from terrorist events.
Also expected to attend and speak is Robert Boyd, Executive Director of the Secured Schools Alliance (delving into improving school safety to avoid future New Town incidents).
During the Congressional Summit, new research conducted by Columbia University in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Putnam County, New York will be previewed. This research calls for the creation of new standards for protecting children during a disaster along with developing a new toolkit for use by local communities.
Safe America will also discuss the need for advancing rail safety in the wake of Al-Qaeda threats on passenger lines in both Europe and North America. And, the Congressional Safety Briefing will also highlight new infrastructure concepts such as the ‘circular runway’ concept being touted in Europe by the Netherlands Aerospace Center.
The New York briefing was described by Safe America Board Chair as ‘an outstanding event,’ building upon the momentum from last summer’s briefing at the UN. Atlanta Medical Center President Kim Ryan, who shared her personal insights gained from living through Katrina in New Orleans, noted that this year’s Manhattan briefing delved into significant content and helped build new relationships that will advance disaster readiness.
“Our briefing here in New York, which expanded our ‘BE Safe America network,’ will stimulate work to be ready for future emergencies,” observed Foundation Founder Len Pagano. “Since 2009, over 4 million people have conducted emergency drills of all varieties. And, we’ve already heard from attendees such as Bob Vogt who is planning a 10-story evacuation drill for late September in Newark, New Jersey. This is evidence that we’re getting the message ‘out there’: that in order to survive a disaster, you have to be ‘Prepared – Not Scared.’ That slogan makes as much sense today as when we conceived it 8 years ago.”
Pagano thanked organizations that have helped fund this year’s BE Safe America program including UPS, Miller Ingenuity, WellStar Atlanta Medical Center (whose executives James Moore and Kim Ryan are seen at the left in this photo) along with Atlanta-based Crawford and Company.
Pagano also praised Miller Ingenuity CEO Steve Blue and his staff members Kevin Smith and Christine Nestor for orchestrating the inaugural ‘WorldSafe Summit’ in Atlanta October 26-28, with over 200 people expected to attend from around the world. For more information the WorldSafe Summit and to reserve a seat at the global Summit, visit trainingforglobalsafety.org. Or, call Executive Vice President Bob Surrusco at (770) 973-SAFE to learn more.