When the US Senate grills Boston EMS Chief Richard A. Serino for the number two position at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he'll have a good answer if he's asked whether he knows much about the world beyond his native Dorchester.
FEMA is the agency that famously flubbed the response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, despite President Bush's compliment to then-FEMA director Michael Brown -- "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." President Obama appointed Florida's long-time emergency chief, hurricane-tested Craig Fugate, as administrator of FEMA, and he was confirmed in May. Yesterday Obama picked Serino to be the deputy administrator.
Serino, who climbed the ranks from an EMS technician to run the Boston emergency system with hands-on expertise, will also be able to demonstrate that he has extended his reach nationally and even globally.
The DelValle Institute for Emergency Preparedness, which Serino created in 2003, hosted an international conference just last month that looked at emergency responses to recent terror attacks in major world cities.
|Emergency responders practiced for disaster in protective suits at the DelValle Institute in Mattapan. (Joanne Rathe/ Globe Staff)|
In a packed hall at the Kennedy Library, experts from Madrid, Mumbai, New Delhi, Islamabad and Jerusalem talked in brutal detail about the impact on the human body of different kinds of explosive devices. See my blog post about the event, and my article in the Globe on Boston's training institute.
In the room were disaster- and terror-response experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, who then worked with Serino's team the next day to use the new information to revise and update the main national blueprint for responding to terror attacks in the United States, called "In a Moment's Notice: Surge Capacity for Terrorist Bombings."
Serino had already been a consultant to the CDC in drafting the original version of that report, published in 2007. Serino, who got his degree studying part-time at Boston State College while working as as emergency medical technician, has since taken part in programs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and at the CDC. He consulted to the Pentagon about its emergency response to the 9/11 attack there.
His studies included looking at how cities in the United States and elsewhere in the world responded to terror attacks and natural disasters, and helped persuade him that the DelValle Institute would be useful to knit together the many agencies that have to respond to any major urban emergency. The Insitute has trained nearly 13,000 personnel from Greater Boston, including police and hospital staff.
The Globe's account today of the positive responses to Serino from around the city as word spread of his FEMA nomination focused on his hands-on leadership at the scenes of emergencies. But he'll also be able to point to a worldly perspective as well.
Not bad for a kid from Dorchester.
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
Is your organization holding an event? Post it on our calendar (use "worldlyboston" for the keyword).