A Chat With Emergency Management Institute Leader Tony Russell

Posted Jun 29, 2016

(TNS) — On Tuesday morning, Emergency Management Institute superintendent Tony Russell spoke to members of the media about his career with FEMA, his passion for training communities and how he views disaster preparedness in the 21st century.

As an emergency responder tasked with assisting Louisiana during its recovery from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike in 2009, Russell said his time spent at ground zero has helped shape his approach to emergency management as a leading official.

“That gives me a certain perspective when it comes to training, because if you're a person who came from the field, you see the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to people being prepared."

What do you see as some of the potential major disasters America faces in the 21st century? Have those dangers changed during your time with FEMA?

Well, I think there's always an evolution when it comes to disasters. And for me, I'm looking at the catastrophic. And when you look at things like the Cascadia subduction zone where we had an exercise out in California two weeks ago, and just the emissivity of that operation ... So if we're called upon to provide assistance, making sure that we're able to do that — making sure to get people there, get supples there and be able to change the outcome for people who have been impacted. So, in my mind, that's my biggest key is being able to have our training positioned to be able to have those kinds of positive outcomes.
Who know's what the (disaster) is going to be? No one ever knows. If I had a crysal ball and could predict, that would be one thing. But that's why we always have to be ready for the risk and the hazards and we have to consistently review our plans, policies and procedures and be in a position to close any gaps. Put all that together and then you have what we do in preparedness every single day.

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