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Disaster Experts in Baltimore Stress Emergency Preparedness

Release Date: 11/13/2009
Contact Information: Roy Seneca, 215-814-5567

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 13, 2009) – More than 900 emergency responders visiting Baltimore this week will hear the first-hand account of a pilot who ditched his commercial jet in the Hudson River and saved the lives of 155 passengers on board.

Jeff Skiles, co-pilot of USAirways Flight 1549, will deliver the keynote address at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 20th annual Emergency Preparedness and Prevention & Hazmat Spills Conference Nov. 15-18, 2009 at the Hyatt Regency and Sheraton hotels in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Skiles credits training, discipline and teamwork with his and his captain’s confident response when bird-strikes to both engines caused their A-320 jet to lose power six minutes after takeoff. The two pilots had only met three days earlier, but because they trusted in their system and training, they worked effectively as a team to land the plane safely.

That’s a strong lesson for emergency responders attending America’s premier all-hazards conference, where the top priority is training first responders, counter-terrorism professionals, emergency managers and planners, and medical, law enforcement and industry personnel.

The conference will expose local responders to national experts; will provide workshops in meeting challenges and solving problems; and will offer training in terrorism awareness, pandemic flu procedures, radiation accidents, and designing effective exercises – to name just a few. About 100 exhibitors will display the latest emergency-response and cleanup technology, protective gear, hazard detection equipment and rescue practices.

The CSX railroad will provide a locomotive and tank cars for a large exercise involving exposure to several hazardous chemicals. The exercise will include a live interactive training response organized by Baltimore fire and hazmat teams.

This year’s conference will feature a graphic presentation on the hazards of meth labs and a course dealing with terrorists’ use of explosives.

Also speaking is Dr. Thomas Scalea, head of the shock trauma surgery center at the University of Maryland Medical System.

Co-hosting this year’s conference are the cities of Baltimore and Annapolis; the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford and Howard; and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, and Maryland Department of the Environment.

At the conference, the EPA will present its annual partnership awards to deserving persons and organizations in the mid-Atlantic region.

More information is available at the conference website: or by calling the conference hotline at 1-800-364-7974.