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March 27, 2009
Vol. 50 No. 19

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Alum talks of disaster planning

Courtesy of The Crusader/Abbi Mull
Expect the Worst- Joseph Palmeiri '00 of the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response speaks to students about emergency prepardness Wednesday in Isaacs Auditorium ni Seibert Hall.
Students were given a detailed and graphic account of the emergency situations in Israel Wednesday night during Joseph Palmeiri's speech, "Professionals Preparing for Critical and Mass Casualty Incidents."

Palmeiri graduated from Susquehanna in 2000 and currently works as the Special Projects Coordinator for the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR).

ITRR is a non-profit intelligence and emergency management defense contract company that is headquartered in Jerusalem, Israel.

In the past, ITRR has worked with the European Union, NATO, AMTRAK and the United Nations as well as Harvard and Philadelphia Universities on how to deal with disasters such as Katrina and the New York blackout. In addition, the company works to prepare professionals with security intelligence information for traveling overseas.

"You have to remember you're a foreigner in another country; you must always be cognizant that anything could happen," Palmeiri said.

The speech was sponsored by Susquehanna's Disaster Relief Team (DiRT), which was looking to bring a speaker in this semester who could discuss disaster issues, Amanda Moser, DiRT president said.

"He [spoke] to a general audience about Israel's response to terrorism from an emergency management and law enforcement perspective. It's about making sure you don't put yourself in danger and about how you deal with the emotional problems of disasters," Mandy Nagy, DiRT advisor said.

This speech related to all majors, from history to bio to English and sociology, Nagy said. "It makes perfect sense. Everyone can be affected."

"Palmeiri talk[ed] about Israel's plans to respond to a terrorism incident that could result in mass casualties. By using case studies of some of the major hospitals in Jerusalem that would handle the influx of casualties, he discuss[ed] responses to such incidences," Moser said.

"The U.S. responds to situations differently than other countries," Palmeiri said. "This is what happens when bad people do bad things. Israel's main goal is to get its people out no matter where they are."

"There is certainly no way to prevent a disaster, so the best thing to do is to equip yourself to properly respond if one should happen," Moser said. "By properly preparing ourselves, we will be able to respond quickly and efficiently to minimize damage that could happen."

"Also, by informing ourselves about disaster situations, we will know what scenarios might happen and be able to prepare ourselves for more than one situation," Moser added.
Originally, Palmeiri's speech was scheduled to be part of the Civic Engagement Symposium, but scheduling conflicts have pushed the event to next fall, according to Moser.

"[It is] a week-long series of speakers to present about how people (especially students) can be involved in and have an impact on their environment. Because of timing, the symposium will be next fall. We [were] still very excited to have Joe come and speak to our campus community," Moser said.

"I hope that this information will encourage people to think about different barriers that can affect a nation's response to disasters. Many people have been thinking about disaster responses in the U.S., and I hope this will bring their thinking to an international level also. There are many lessons that we can learn through studies such as these," Moser added.

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