Friday, June 5, 2009

Publications that could make a difference

I’ve spent the bulk of this week working on a publication titled “The Role of Transportation in Campus Emergency Planning.” I know, it sounds like a yawner, but it’s actually interesting and the author is a very well known expert on emergency planning and implementation of those plans. Her name is Dr. Frances Edwards.

Under normal circumstances I am surrounded by raging liberals at work, some of whom create “studies” that promote their liberal way of thinking or promote socialism (or thoughts toward socialism). Sometimes it’s hard for me to read some of it, and I’ve been going through hell with one author who created a study that I don’t agree with at all! But this publication I’ve been working on has been a pleasure to work on, and the author herself has so much knowledge of emergency stuff, and has extensively studied 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina—what went right and what went wrong. And yes, some things did go right in both situations! Don't hear about those in the media now, do we?

Dr. Edwards is the Deputy Director, for the National Transportation Security Center at the Mineta Transportation Institute. She used to be the Director of Emergency Preparedness for the city of San José and is now a professor of political science at San Jose State University.  She’s one of those rare academics who has been out in the trenches, full of life experiences and knowledge and she’s working toward educating the next generation of emergency planners.  It has been my pleasure to work with her on a couple of publications—they are always readable and there is no hidden agenda whatsoever. She’s so smart and so easy to communicate with—I’m almost sorry I have her publication nearly finished; she writes chapters for books on emergency services so to be able to do one of her publications is an honor and inspirational. Because of her writings, I’ve volunteered for my county’s emergency services corp, and I’m taking classes to bring me up to speed. Okay so a hospital doesn’t want me, but if there’s an emergency, I’m better than not having anyone around!

Anyway, I was fortunate to be able to visit with Dr. Edwards for awhile, asking for her input in creating this most recent publication to ensure maximum reader usability. She knows so much about 9/11 and the Katrina aftermath and events that lead to so many of the things we keep reading about in the media—why are there still people living in FEMA trailers? Why are so many homes not repaired or rebuilt? Is the neighborhood that was most flooded going to become open space, because rebuilding is asking for trouble?

Dr. Edwards’ publication should end up in the hands of college presidents and perhaps even high school superintendents. It’s hard to think of a college campus as an asset in time of emergency (it’s easier to think of the campus itself being under attack a la Virginia Tech) but a campus can be an excellent community resource—it’s just a matter of planning for whatever potential disaster is out there!

There is another author that I enjoy working with as much as working with Dr. Edwards, and that is Brian Michael Jenkins. He served as a Special Ops Green Beret in the Dominican Republic and in Vietnam, and is a decorated combat veteran. He is a walking encyclopedia on counterterrorism measures. He authors publications on terrorism and how to protect transportation against acts of terrorism. He’s not in the Bay Area a great deal, so getting the time to steal any sort of conversation with him is a real treat. For Brian, 9/11 isn't a matter of "if"—it's a matter of "where" and "when." He has definite ideas as to where ... 

When I am given the opportunity to work with Dr. Edwards and Mr. Jenkins, I feel as if I am doing something that just might benefit the United States—provided politicians take that advice and don’t get into pissy posturing.

Which unfortunately happens all too often. If those pissy politicians would just be a bit more worried about individuals and organizations and other nations that don’t like the United States, I’d feel a whole lot safer. I don’t feel safe with the current commander-in-chief groveling at the feet of Middle Eastern “princes” and dictators. 


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