A Behind-the Scenes Look at NYC's Emergency Response Team

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Pei-Sze Cheng gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how New York City coordinates some of the city's biggest disasters.

    A breaking news report. The announcer says bombs have gone off in Bayside and Brighton Beach.   Within minutes, the command center inside New York City’s Office of Emergency Management is full.

    This is only a drill -- with a fabricated scenario and fake news reports to support the exercise, but it helps the agency practice for an actual emergency.

    “OEM’s job is to coordinate the incident,” said OEM Commissioner Joe Bruno. “One, we coordinate how the management structure in the field will work and we also support the field operations.”

    From this one room, the agency communicates with some fifty agencies to coordinate a response. 

    By day, Lisa Schulman is a communications specialists for OEM, but once there is an emergency, she is a liaison between the agency and the mayor’s office.

    “It’s good to remember that we can be pulled at a moments notice and perform our emergency duties," said Schulman.

    The transit strike of 2005 was the first job Schulman worked on, shaping alternate plans when the city’s mass transit system shut down. 

    Whether it’s emergencies like the steam explosion of 2007 or the paralyzing snowstorm in February of this year, this agency plays a key role in coordinating the city’s response.

    “We’ve got to figure out what the public message is to people,” said Deputy Commissioner for Planning Kelly McKinney. “Are they going or are they staying?”