Meghan McPherson, CEM, coordinator of the Center for Health Innovation reflects on the importance of those in the emergency management field.

Summary by Meghan McPherson, CEM, Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation

As are we are faced with another natural disaster tragedy in the United States, this time in the form of a tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, we are reminded of the shear power of mother nature.  Following almost the exact path of the May 3, 1999 Moore Tornado, this category F-5 left a tremendous amount of damage in it’s wake.  While no one can stop tornadoes from forming, the difference in the official and unofficial warning and response protocols was clear in the immediate aftermath.   

Meteorologists gave a critical warning beforehand not to react as you normally would — going into the bathtub and putting a mattress over you/going to an interior room — something that citizens in “Tornado Alley” have done for decades.  Rather, they told everyone to get underground, in their safe room, or start driving away from the tornado.  Driving away from a tornado is usually not advisable but it was recognized quickly by meteorologists and emergency management officials that this was no ordinary tornado.

Lessons learned from the 1999 Moore Tornado, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and the Joplin, Missouri 2011 tornado has produced a level of preparedness that saved countless residents, many who survived a direct hit to the regional hospital and schools in the area.  All angles of emergency management have improved after those tragedies, from quick disaster declarations, emergency drills, and warning systems to rapid search and rescue efforts.  Watching the coverage last night was absolutely heartbreaking, but it also gave me an extreme sense of pride watching reflective vests move through the town, knowing I am a part of large community that works to keep people safe and help them recover when tragedy, whatever its genesis, strikes.

Read about Preserving Health in the Face of Disaster, 2013 issue of Erudition.

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