With the anniversaries of the September 11 terror attacks and Hurricane Katrina upon us, the Connecticut Commission on Children thought it was a good time to hear from variety of experts on the readiness of our state to protect children and families from disaster.
While Connecticut hasn’t been struck by anything of the magnitude of Katrina, it nevertheless has seen its share of natural and unnatural disasters in the past year, including a tornado in Fairfield County, a power plant explosion in Middletown, and a workplace massacre in Manchester. We asked the experts what could be taken away from these incidents.
The speakers included: Bruce A. Lockwood, a Connecticut resident who sits on the National Commission on Children and Disasters; Jeanne-Aimée De Marrais, Director of the Domestic Emergencies Unit at Save the Children, Peter Boynton, Commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS); Margaret Freidenfelt, Child Care Licensing Supervisor for the state Department of Public Health; and Peter Palermino, Program Manager for the state Department of Social Services (DSS).
Senator Andrea L. Stillman, Co-Chair of the legislature’s Public Safety Committee, and Senator Jonathan A. Harris, Co-Chair of the Public Health Committee, delivered opening remarks.
And to commemorate 9/11 and Katrina, the Commission gave a brief multi-media presentation centering on some of the artwork and writing that schoolchildren from across Connecticut submitted to the Commission in recent years, after the Commission asked them to express their thoughts and feelings on not only those two disasters, but their overall safety.
“In the wake of 9/11, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to require that all of its disaster planning incorporate care for children and families,” Commission on Children Executive Director Elaine Zimmerman said. “This meeting helped us keep the focus on them, and to help ensure that we’re prepared for any disaster, whether natural or unnatural.”
Appointed to the Commission by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mr. Lockwood is the Public Health Emergency Response Coordinator for the Bristol-Burlington Health District. He has 28 years' experience in emergency management, emergency medical services and public safety, with extensive planning at the local, regional and state levels for children's needs in disaster situations. He served as the Canton Schools All Hazard Planning Chair, and as a member of the Governor's Prevention Partnership School Safety Portal Committee and the Child Safety and Crisis Response, State of Connecticut, Daycare and Child Care Subcommittee; he also served on the Connecticut Public Health Emergency Preparedness Advisory Committee.
Jeanne-Aimee De Marrais is the Director of Save the Children's Domestic Emergencies Unit and was instrumental in establishing the unit in 2006. De Marrais serves as Team Leader on Save the Children disaster response teams and manages the US REDI Team's 43 members. She worked for 14 months on the Gulf Coast helping create and lead Save the Children's Hurricane Katrina Response programs in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. She also led Save the Children's responses to: the 2007 Southern California Wildfires; spring 2008 tornadoes in Tennessee and Arkansas, June 2008 mid-western floods in Iowa and Indiana; 2008 Hurricanes Dolly, Gustav and Ike; and the 2009 American Samoa Tsunami.
Peter J. Boynton of Madison was appointed Commissioner of DEMHS in August 2009 by Governor M. Jodi Rell. Mr. Boynton served 28 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, retiring at the rank of Captain. His service included two years in the White House as a Director for Global Affairs on the National Security Council and three years at the Department of State, coordinating national policy for drug interdiction and migrant smuggling. He also spent 10 years at sea on six Coast Guard cutters, commanding three of them in Puerto Rico, Massachusetts, and Maine. While in Puerto Rico, his crew seized 23 tons of marijuana and 2 tons of cocaine from smugglers in the Caribbean Sea. His final post was as Captain of the Port for Connecticut and Long Island, where he was responsible for port security, search and rescue, and environmental protection. Following his retirement from the Coast Guard, Mr. Boynton served for two years as the Federal Security Director for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in Connecticut, at Bradley International Airport. He is currently on the national Board of Directors for the Military Officers Association of America and chairs the Connecticut Maritime Pilot Commission. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering from the Coast Guard Academy, and a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.