RaCERS Director Charles Jennings was interviewed by Radio Free Galisteo’s John Shannon in a 30-minute interview on learning from disaster. Jennings emphasized the need for a stronger federal role in promoting and funding¬† stronger, more policy-relevant inquiry on emergency response and coordination to reveal best practices. As the number of large-loss disasters increases, such need is only more critical.

Jennings began with a discussion of 9/11, and the backstory to the formation of the Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies (RaCERS) and the advocacy and safety improvements that resulted. The wide-ranging discussion included the passage of the National Construction Safety Team Act and recent legislation introduced to provide a federal disaster safety board that would study major disasters to identify lessons. The bi-partisan legislation, introduced by co-sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz (HI) and multiple co-sponsors, was reintroduced in July 2021. A similar bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Katie Porter. (CA-45) and reintroduced with Rep. John Garamendi (CA-03).

“The existing system of learning from disasters and major events is fragmented, incomplete, and underfunded,” Jennings, said. Jennings advocated for a comprehensive, third-party, and cross-discipline approach to documenting and learning from emergency responses that would be enabled by creation of a National Disaster Safety Board. Jennings is a former First Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety for the City of White Plains, NY, and has worked as a firefighter/EMT, emergency manger, and led or contributed to investigations of fires, hazardous materials, and terror attacks.

The podcast can be streamed or downloaded at Radio Free Galisteo.

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