DENVER, Colo. -- Today, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Deputy Administrator Rich Serino addressed more than 600 participants from across the country at the Shared Strategies for Homeland Security Conference in Denver.
Deputy Administrator Serino, who before joining FEMA spent more than 35 years in local emergency services, reminded the participants about the need to plan for the entire community, including children, people with disabilities, and the elderly, and the importance of engaging the public as a critical part of the emergency management team. Serino also spoke about the need to plan for worst case scenarios, and leverage the expertise and resources of the entire team, including the federal family, the private sector, faith-based and non-profit organizations, and especially the public, when planning for, responding to, and recovering from disasters.
"We can't write our plans based solely on our capabilities - we have to make our plans scalable and we have to leverage the entire team - the whole community," said Serino. "If we treat the public as a liability, rather than a resource, we overlook the great capacity of the public to look after and care for friends and neighbors. The public can be a force multiplier for firefighters and other first responders and emergency managers if we empower them and help them understand how to be part of the response and recovery."
During his remarks, Deputy Administrator Serino also touched on initiatives FEMA has launched in order to engage the public about the importance of personal preparedness.
- Earlier this year, FEMA launched its first ever challenge to the public to share their ideas on how communities can better prepare before disaster strikes. Any one can visit www.challenge.gov/fema to share their ideas or to learn more.
- FEMA also is encouraging the public to make a New Year's resolution to "Resolve to be Ready" in 2011. Visit www.ready.gov/resolve2011 to learn more.
Richard Serino began serving as FEMA Deputy Administrator in October 2009. Prior to his appointment he served as Chief of Boston EMS and Assistant Director of the Boston Public Health Commission. He has served as an Incident Commander for more than 35 mass casualty incidents and for Boston's major planned events, including the Boston Marathon, Boston's Fourth of July celebration, and the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
The Shared Strategies for Homeland Security conference is a three day event, held from December 13-16, hosted by the Denver Urban Area Security Initiative in Denver. A full schedule of speakers and events can be found here.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.