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Superstorm Sandy: Emergency management staff perceptions of impact and recommendations for future preparedness, New York State

Adam Yanson, MPH, Asante Shipp Hilts, MPH, DrPH, Stephanie Mack, BS, Millicent Eidson, MA, DVM, DACVPM, Trang Nguyen, MD, DrPH, Guthrie Birkhead, MD, MPH


Objective: This study collected and summarized feedback from staff at the New York State (NYS) Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and three county OEMs within NYS to understand lessons learned from the 2012 Superstorm Sandy.

Design: Cross-sectional qualitative and quantitative analysis.

Subjects, Participants: One staff person from each identified critical role from the state and county OEMs who were still employed in the roles identified. Interventions: In-person interviews in 2014 followed by an anonymous survey in 2015 examined the response strengths, challenges, and recommendations using federally and study-defined Public Health Preparedness Capabilities. Quantitative analysis of staff survey ratings was used to summarize perceptions of interagency collaboration, communication effectiveness, and differences by staff position.

Results: Response rates were 78 percent for interviews (n = 7) and 45 percent for surveys (n = 36). In interviews, “emergency operations coordination” was cited most frequently (48 percent), specifically for successful interagency coordination. “Emergency operations coordination” was also cited most among challenges (45 percent), with emphasis on problems with uniformity of software systems across agencies. Survey responses indicated that “volunteer management” (50 percent) and the “safety and health of responders” (40 percent) were frequently reported as challenges. Additionally, 38 percent of OEM staff reported that situation reports submitted by health departments need improvement. Recommendations from OEM staff included “emergency operations coordination” (36 percent) such as sharing of resources and “training” (16 percent) including hospital evacuation training.

Conclusions: Analysis of OEM staff feedback identified specific challenges, and concrete recommendations were made to improve response going forward.


disaster planning, emergency management, emergency preparedness, Superstorm, public health

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