and why everyone needs to understand what Emergency Management can do for any type of disaster.
In the beginning of June 2023, I got a chance to read the very detailed After-Action Report/Improvement Plan (AAR/IP) produced by the NYU Wagner’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management on the deadly blizzard which hit Buffalo and other areas around Erie County in New York State, in late 2022. I believe the number of deaths from this storm is around 50 in total (since there is not a single multijurisdictional AAR/IP on this storm, the number varies, depending on who is doing the counting and where). You can read the report yourself at https://wagner.nyu.edu/impact/research/publications/lessons-learned-buffalo-blizzard-recommendations-for-strengthening
I had no personal connection with this Blizzard. I do recall hearing about it on the news and was shocked at the high number of people who died. I am a professional emergency manager (currrently consulting and volunteering with a major voluntary organization active in disaster). One of the things we do is critique ourselves and our work (including our missteps). A lot like surgeons go through M&M committees to both become better at what we do and of course help the public better, too. I started to draft commentary and areas of concern I knew — from open-source media and reading the NYU Rudin Report itself — which would benefit from our Emergency Management dogma, doctrine, policies, practice, etc. to help with life safety during disasters. If you ask a surface-transportation focused think tank for a report, you will undoubtably get a great surface-transportation report on what happened and how to improve surface-transportation concerns for the future. But Blizzards are threats which have multiple hazards, adversely impacting life safety in many, many areas: including surface transportation, but certainly not limited to it. I asked my colleagues in the field of Emergency Management to volunteer their time to review the NYU Rudin report (and any other open-source information they might be able to research) and a number of Emergency Management professionals were more than willing to help on this. Like me, they did this freely to help Buffalo and Erie County fix what needs to be fixed — and to help the public better understand our profession: This is Emergency Management. That is actually the opening line of the report we produced for the Center for Emergency Management Intelligence Research. I am personally grateful for my colleagues’ support — both the anonymous folks and those who were willing/able to put their names on the report, as well.
I invite you to read both reports for yourself. Ours is at https://cemir.org/store/ols/products/2022-buffalo-blizzard-aar-ip and is free to download.
Michael Prasad, MA, CEM® is the senior research analyst for Barton Dunant and the executive director of the Center for Emergency Management Intelligence Research.