Emergency Management Symposium Starts Tomorrow in Newport News

March 29, 2016  //  

RICHMOND, Va. – Close to 300 members of the emergency management community, vendors and speakers will gather for the annual Virginia Emergency Management Symposium at the Newport News Marriott at City Center tomorrow through Friday. They will explore enhanced ways to manage emergency preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation efforts.

The Virginia Emergency Management Association (VEMA) and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) co-sponsor the annual learning workshop to provide training opportunities for emergency responders, planners, managers and volunteers to share best practices, lessons learned and initiatives. This year’s symposium offers more than 25 sessions. Listed below are some of the featured speakers and their presentations:

March 30

  • A panel discussion titled “Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Management, Homeland Security and Resilience: Emerging Issues and Concepts” will include Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security (PSHS) Brian Moran, PSHS Deputy Secretary Adam Thiel, Homeland Security and Resilience Staff Director Shawn Talmadge and Lt. Col. Thomas Gagnon of the Virginia National Guard.
  • “How to Respond to an Active Shooter Event,” will be presented by Lt. Bob Medairos and Lauren Stienstra, deputy coordinators with the Arlington Office of Emergency Management. They will cover the active shooter response program that teaches the “Run, Hide, Fight” model to government and private sector agencies and share strategies for designing effective low-budget trainings and drills.
  • “Integrating Unmanned Aerial Systems into Emergency Response Operations,” is a presentation that will explore how Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) can actively engage in the response and recovery operation and increase the security, health and safety of first responders. This presentation will be led by Alliance Solutions Group Inc. CEO Robert Campbell, AVID LLC Chief Technology Officer Paul Gelhausen and Virginia Department of Health Western Regional Emergency Coordinator Becky McCabe.

March 31

  • The National Weather Service (NWS) will present new initiatives at the NWS and cover case studies of recent significant weather events. This session will include an informal discussion between the audience and warning coordination meteorologists from the NWS offices in Baltimore/DC, Blacksburg and Wakefield.
  • Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) Region III Administrator MaryAnn Tierney will give an update on policy events occurring in Virginia and the region.

April 1

  • The symposium keynote speaker will be City of Charleston Fire Department Captain Dr. David Griffin and author of the best-selling book, “In Honor of The Charleston 9: A Study of Change Following Tragedy.” His presentation is titled “Leadership During Crisis” and involves leadership lessons he learned after nine firefighters in his fire department perished in a furniture store fire in Charleston, South Carolina on June 18, 2007.
  • A forecast of the 2016 hurricane season will be given by National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb. Later that morning, VDEM State Coordinator Dr. Jeffrey Stern, will talk about lessons learned from the January winter storm and the February tornadoes in Virginia.

Other sessions include: how comfort dogs can help individuals affected by disasters; sheltering and facilitating housing stock recovery following a catastrophic storm; and a presentation on jurisdictional continuity of operations planning. In addition, Brett Burdick, VDEM deputy coordinator for disaster services, will explore what scientific literature reveals about some limitations on human cognition and how this relates to situational awareness and decision-making during a crisis.

The symposium also features a trade show highlighting the latest products and services that help emergency managers in disaster preparation, response and recovery.

The theme for the symposium is “Explore the Possibilities.” Registration and session descriptions are available online at http://www.vemaweb.org/vems16-schedule. Follow along on Twitter: #VEMS16.


Contact Information:
Name: Dawn Eischen
Phone: (804)  897-9730 or (804) 674-2400
Email: Dawn.Eischen@vdem.virginia.gov
Address: 10501 Trade Court | Richmond, Virginia | 23226

Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund