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September 11, 2019

Emergency Management Program Is Ready When Disaster Strikes

by Choya Randolph, MFA '18

David R. Williams, EdD (fifth from left, in blazer), clinical assistant professor and director of the emergency management program, prior to deploying to Texas after Hurricane Harvey in 2017

Hurricane Dorian’s devastation of the Bahamas and the East Coast of the United States drives home how emergency management as a field of study and training is vital.

David R. Williams, EdD, clinical assistant professor and director of Adelphi’s emergency management program, is experienced in responding to various hurricanes, floods and wildfires. In 2017, he was deployed to Texas by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as part of a 30-member State Incident Management Team to support the response and recovery efforts in the wake of devastation from Hurricane Harvey.

This disaster two years ago hit shortly after Dr. Williams took the reins as program director from Kenneth C. Rondello, MD, clinical associate professor, who played a major role in the program’s development. Like Dr. Williams, Dr. Rondello has extensive experience in emergency management. He was a 9/11 first responder and has traveled to emergencies in about a dozen countries around the world, from Ghana to Haiti. “Being a professor at Adelphi, I’m able to leverage those experiences into opportunities for student learning that I wouldn’t have otherwise if I didn’t do these deployments,” Dr. Rondello said.

The importance of being prepared

The faculty in Adelphi’s emergency management program and the students they train are prepared to respond to situations ranging from major natural disasters to power failures.

Dr. Williams believes emergency management is something everyone should be familiar with. He said, “Whether you’re a school administrator and want to better prepare for emergencies in the educational environment or you’re a business student earning a master’s and want to be resilient against disasters, the objective is to educate individuals in all career fields who wish to apply emergency management principles to their work.”

A pioneering program that’s gaining recognition

In 2003, Adelphi became one of the first higher education institutions to offer emergency management coursework. The College of Nursing and Public Health and the College of Professional and Continuing Studies share the emergency management program. The program can lead to careers in fields as diverse as the United States Department of Homeland Security and healthcare-related and environmental emergency management.

Today the program offers master’s, bachelor’s and associate degrees in emergency management, as well as a graduate certificate.

Like Drs. Rondello and Williams, the department’s faculty are active in their fields. They have worked with the United States Secret Service and on nuclear submarines and have traveled to dozens of countries to apply their expertise. They deliver essential course materials, including law, public policies and the needs of vulnerable populations. They also incorporate current events into the classroom that reflect in students’ work, such as the anti-vaccine movement and the spring 2019 measles outbreak.

In 2008, the emergency management program was offered fully online. “My students are essentially from all corners of the nation,” Dr. Williams said. “I have students who are in California write to me about wildfires enclosing their hospitals. I have students talking about the blizzards in the Midwest.”

Word about Adelphi’s involvement in disaster preparedness is spreading. In February 2019, representatives from the Cabinet Secretariat of the Japanese National Resilience Promotion Headquarters visited Dr. Williams to learn more about disaster preparedness and bring best practices back to Japan.

“Name me one component of society that doesn’t need emergency management,” Dr. Williams said. “Any place where people gather, emergency management is required to be considered for the safety of the people there.”


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