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New York Medical College Offers Disaster Planning for Businesses

More than 75 Westchester community members participated in a two-day course at New York Medical College (NYMC) on December 18-19.

From flu to natural disasters, emergencies can cause businesses big problems. Even emergencies that impact employees and not the business itself an be an issue, said Dr. David S. Markenson, the director of the Center for Disaster Medicine at New York Medical College in Valhalla.

“When a disaster occurs it puts at risk both businesses and their employees during the event. Those risks are to the employees, the leadership and the people they serve,” Markenson said in a recent interview with the Westchester County Business Journal.

He added, “You can have an event that really shuts them down for days, weeks, months. You can imagine the impact that will have on a business.”

While much of the training offered by New York Medical College is targeted at community leaders and hospital emergency managers, law enforcement, school administrators and others, the private sector also is included in the target audience.

Markenson encouraged businesses to come up with disaster plans and to help their employees prepare for home emergencies. In December, New York Medical College held a program that focused on planning involving children.

“I tell every employer it is in their vast interest that every employee has a family disaster plan because that allows the employee to come to work, return to work, stay at work,” he said.

He said businesses need to examine their ability to provide space for children in the event of a weather disaster or other serious situation that closes schools and affects normal child care activities.

“Employees stay at home or, if there’s a place in the building for children while the employees work, you actually maintain productivity of your business,” Markenson said.

Markenson co-founded center in 2005. In addition to his role there and as medical director and professor of public health at the college, he serves as chief medical officer for training series and chair of the National Scientific Advisory Council for the American Red Cross.

“Fifty years ago people heard the word disaster and they thought something collapsed. Unfortunately, in recent times, people have added to that the effects of terrorism or mass casualty events and with things like pandemic flu people have added health emergencies,” Markenson said.

Businesses interested in learning more about disaster planning, should contact David S. Markenson, M.D., M.B.A., Director and Medical Director of the Center for Disaster Medicine at (914) 594-1742 or e-mail

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