Albany, NY - October 28, 2013 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today hosted a conference on emergency preparedness, joining hundreds of first responders and local officials from across New York State in Albany, a day before the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy.
At the conference, the Governor unveiled a statewide Emergency Management Certification and Training Program that will establish uniform disaster response protocols for first responders and local officials. In addition, the Governor announced federal approval for New York’s request to use the federal Wireless Emergency Alert system when the state needs to send location-specific information to New Yorkers before, during or after an emergency.
The Governor also presented awards to New Yorkers who demonstrated extraordinary heroism and courage during Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, Superstorm Sandy, or the flooding this past summer in the Mohawk Valley and other parts of Upstate New York.
During the conference, the Governor and participants discussed lessons learned from the major storms over the past two and a half years and steps the state has taken since to strengthen our emergency preparedness and response capabilities.
“After experiencing Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in the last few years, it is clear that New York State must be prepared for today’s ever changing climate,” Governor Cuomo said. “On the eve of Sandy, this conference provides an opportunity for first responders and local officials to discuss the lessons we have learned from the three ‘one hundred year storms’ we’ve incurred in the last three years that impacted communities across the state and take actions to address future emergencies, both natural and man-made. Among those actions, we are launching the State’s first-ever Emergency Management Certification and Training Program to establish a more effective and streamlined emergency response on all levels of government, and we have obtained approval to use the federal Wireless Emergency Alert system to better reach New Yorkers during a future emergency. We are also using this occasion to recognize the first responders and citizens who went above and beyond the call of duty to perform truly heroic actions during these last three storms. It is an honor to host the men and women who work every day to ensure the protection and safety of New Yorkers, and together, we can build a safer New York for years to come.”
Training for First Responders and Local Officials
At today's conference, the Governor announced the creation of the first-ever statewide program designed to establish uniform emergency preparedness training for county chief executives, county emergency managers and local emergency first responders (e.g., fire chiefs, police chiefs, EMS directors and other county officials) that would likely play a significant role in disaster response. The NYS Emergency Management Certification and Training Program (NYS-EMC) will certify participants for disaster response capabilities in counties statewide, including New York City.
NYS-EMC will provide training for three tiers of participants. Tier 1 is a one-day training session for county chief executives, Tier 2 is a four and a half day training session for county emergency managers and Tier 3 is a two-day training session for local emergency first response agency chiefs. Tier 1 and Tier 2 participants will also engage in an annual one-day updated training session.
The NYS-EMC certification is required for grant submission eligibility for any NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services-administered grant for County Executives and Emergency Managers.
“Governor Cuomo is committed to establishing and maintaining the most effective emergency response protocol in the nation,” NYS Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jerome M. Hauer said. “With the launch of this training program we will provide a comprehensive and unified training effort that will strengthen local emergency response capabilities and provide our citizens with a safer environment.”
Stephen J. Acquario, executive director, NYS Association of Counties, said, "Over the past three years New York State has endured some of the worst natural disasters in our history and Governor Cuomo has worked to make our state stronger and our citizens safer. Today's conference brings together professionals from across the State to share information on the lessons learned from those disasters, and the new statewide training and certification initiative that Governor Cuomo has developed will enhance counties' response and recovery efforts for the future.”
Kevin Niedermaier, President, New York State Emergency Management
Association said, "I would like to thank Governor Cuomo for taking the initiative to develop and implement a statewide emergency management training program to strengthen and support every region. With better preparedness and response capabilities, we will make all New Yorkers safer."
Mobile Phone Alert System for Emergency Situations
Governor Cuomo today announced that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and FEMA have approved New York’s request to use the federal Wireless Emergency Alert system when the state needs to send location-specific information to New Yorkers before, during or after an emergency.
Announced by the Governor in the 2013 State of the State address, the Wireless Emergency Alerts will appear like text message, accompanied by a sound or vibration. The system allows the state to localize messages by sending the alert to everyone with a mobile phone in an entire county, or a specific city or village, or even a large neighborhood.
Messages will include directions to evacuate, the location of a nearby food station or local shelter, information about local power restoration, or other location-specific information that New Yorkers would need in an emergency.
The federal Wireless Emergency Alert system is designed for three purposes: imminent threat of severe weather alerts and other emergencies; Amber alerts; and Presidential alerts. Today’s approval gives New York authorization to include critical pre- and post- storm information in the severe weather event/emergency imminent threat category. The Wireless Emergency Alert system will complement the other elements of our NY Alert system, which enables New Yorkers to sign up to receive emergency messages by text message, email, phone or through the state’s NY Alert app.
New Yorkers recognized today by the Governor for their service during and in the aftermath of the storms include:
- Andrea Curran, Manager, Camp Bulldog, Lindenhurst
New York National Guard, 102 Military Police Battalion represented by:
- Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Zegers, Battalion Commander
- Command Sergeant Major Thomas Ciampolla
- First Sergeant Kevin Conklin
FDNY represented by:
- Deputy Assistant Chief James Daly, FDNY Strategic Planning Chief
- Deputy Assistant Chief Kevin Butler
- Firefighter Andrew Hagan
- Firefighter Leonard Cimadamo
NYPD represented by:
- Al Pizzano, Captain, NYPD
- James Wahlig, Captain, NYPD
- Deputy Sheriff Joe Steyer, Ulster County
- Sarah Goodrich, Executive Director, Schoharie Area Long Term Recovery
- Trooper John M. Keough, New York State Police
- Brett Chellis, Director/Fire Coordinator, Broome County Office of Emergency Services
- Bob Vandewalker, Herkimer County EMS Coordinator
- Ron Konowitz, Town of Keene Volunteer Fire Department, and Volunteer Coordinator, Town of Keene Hurricane Irene Recovery team
Lessons Learned from Irene, Lee, and Sandy
Following the major storms, the Governor announced the creation of the NY Ready Commission tasked with preparing the state's networks, systems and structures to withstand a major weather event, and the NY Respond Commission tasked with ensuring the ability and capacity to effectively respond to a natural disaster. The Commission's issued their key preliminary recommendations in January 2013, and a series of new initiatives were included in the Governor's 2013 State of the State agenda and subsequently enacted.
The commissions' recommendations accounted for the reality that severe weather events are increasing in frequency and impact, and responding to the new normal would require a series of new and improved approaches including access to reliable and timely data; state-of-the-art training and preparation; better coordination within and across all sectors; more resilient systems to ensure that critical needs like fuel and communication can be met after an emergency; and a heightened focus on the most vulnerable populations.
Actions taken by the state as a result of the commissions' recommendations include:
Training and Coordination:
- Statewide network of first responders: The Commissions recommended the creation of a statewide network of unified emergency training, coordination, protocols and communication. This year, the state established ten Emergency Response Zones across New York focused on regional preparedness and coordination of emergency managers, local officials and first responders.
- Emergency response training: The commissions recommended that the state ensure that emergency response personnel receive state-of-the-art training. This year, the state significantly increased training for state, county and local officials and first responders, including a nearly 500% increase in the number of people trained at the State Preparedness Training Center.
- Regional stockpiles of essential equipment: The commissions recommended the State establish emergency stockpiles of essential supplies and equipment. The state now has nine regional stockpiles with critical equipment and life-saving supplies for rapid deployment.
- Specialized National Guard training: The commissions recommended the State provide additional specialized training for the National Guard for emergency response. This year, the State is now ready to deploy hundreds of National Guard members trained to provide security, logistics, transportation and communications support to help rapidly restore power.
- Back-up power at gas stations: The commissions recommended that gas stations in strategic locations be required to have on-site back-up power capacity. This year, the Governor introduced and signed into law the nation’s strongest gas station back-up power measures to ensure that all gas stations in critical downstate locations have power after an emergency.
- Strategic gasoline reserve: The commissions recommended a Strategic Gasoline Reserve be created to serve as a back-up to further protect New York State from temporary disruptions in fuel supply. This year, New York will establish the nation's first state-level Strategic Gasoline Reserve with 3 million gallons of fuel to help avoid shortages for first responders and New York families.
- StormRecovery.NY.gov: The commissions recommended the state establish an online one-stop shop for disaster response. This year, the State launched http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/StormRecovery.NY.gov to direct New Yorkers to all assistance, using social media and mapping to provide up-to-date information on emergency recovery resources.
- NY-TEXT: The commissions recommended the State utilize a location-specific way to communicate with New York residents in an emergency. The Governor today announced that state has received approval to use the federal Wireless Emergency Alert system to provide location-specific NY Alert messages before, during and after emergencies.
- Protecting vulnerable New Yorkers: The commissions recommended that the state take measures to ensure that first responders, outreach workers, and healthcare and human services personnel are prepared to serve vulnerable populations who need assistance. This year, the state created NYS e-FINDS, a statewide emergency tracking system to ensure the safety of patients and residents when healthcare and human services facilities evacuate. Additional measures taken this year by the State included assessing healthcare facilities to evaluate their ability to shelter in place or evacuate in an emergency, as well as training hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, local health departments and local emergency management officials on updated evacuation procedures.
- Location of Healthcare Facilities: The commissions recommended the State consider location vulnerabilities when new construction or renovation of a healthcare facility is proposed. This year, the State developed new requirements for greater resilience and back-up power for hospitals and nursing homes that are built or renovated in vulnerable locations.