Public Administration Professor Leads Medical Team in Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Efforts
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Temporary hospital set up on a football field in Neptune Township, N.J. Photo courtesy of Robert Skertich, Ph.D.
Equipped with an extensive background in emergency management, Robert Skertich, Ph.D., assistant professor of public administration at Point Park University, recently traveled to Neptune Township, N.J. in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to lead relief efforts.
As incident commander of the Pennsylvania Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT-PA1), Skertich oversaw a group of approximately 40 doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and medical technicians helping people who had been displaced from their homes due to storm damage and loss of electricity.
“We were able to build a decompression hospital on the Neptune Township football field,” said Skertich. “Patients were seen for a variety of medical needs, and our personnel were able to treat and release, or stabilize and transfer patients to local hospitals.”
Over the course of 13 days, Skertich’s team, which is part of the National Disaster Medical System, treated more than 400 patients.
“Disasters create a unique nexus for government, business and nonprofit organizations, and being able to understand the interrelationships, capabilities and restrictions of the sectors and levels of government make managing disasters less difficult,” explained Skertich. “My background helps me to ‘speak the same language’ of the agencies who are there to help.”
Skertich’s background includes more than 30 years of service in emergency management. He has worked in a variety of roles with the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Disaster Medical System on disasters such as the Flight 93 crash on Sept. 11, 2001 and the earthquake in Haiti in Jan. 2010.
When asked if he will be sharing his most recent relief effort experiences with Point Park students, Skertich replied: “I try to share my experiences in all my classes. That’s the best thing about the School of Business — most faculty members are still active practitioners in their fields so they are able to bring the real world into the classroom. Students are provided with insight that goes beyond the textbook and will help them in their own careers.”