New York City Office of Emergency Management
The New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) was originally formed in 1996 as part of the Mayor's Office under Rudolph W. Giuliani. By a vote of city residents in 2001 it became an independent agency, headed by a Commissioner who reports to the Mayor. In 2006 the office was reorganized under the Deputy Mayor for Administration by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
The agency is responsible for oversight and development of the City's emergency management plans. OEM regularly tests plans by conducting drills and exercises, and responds to emergencies to ensure that other agencies not only follow these plans, but to foster communication amongst the responding agencies. OEM also operates the City's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) where city, state and federal agencies join representatives from the private and nonprofit sectors to coordinate complex responses to emergencies and disasters.
The agency also developed and runs the Notify NYC emergency alert program, by which citizens can sign up to receive phone and email alerts about emergencies and events happening in their neighborhoods.
On Tuesday, December 5, 2006, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (R) joined OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno, former OEM Commissioners Richard J. Sheirer and John Odermatt, OEM personnel, and a host of other dignitaries to unveil the agency’s new state-of-the-art headquarters. The new facility, located at 165 Cadman Plaza East in Downtown Brooklyn, replaces the agency’s former offices that were located on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center, the 47-story building that was the last to collapse in the September 11, 2001 attacks.
September 11 attacks
Richard Sheirer was the director of the OEM at the time of the September 11th attacks, and thus became in charge of the city's rescue and recovery effort. Immediately after the attacks, OEM was temporarily housed at Pier 92 of New York Passenger Ship Terminal on Manhattan’s West Side. Before moving into the new building, OEM was located in a warehouse beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. The new structure formerly served as the New York City headquarters for the American Red Cross of Greater New York. The $50 million project, funded by the federal government, called for the fifty-year-old building to be completely gutted and outfitted with the latest in audio-visual and communications technology.
The New OEM building
The new OEM building has four floors with 65,000 square feet (6,000 m2) of space. It contains general offices for OEM staff, several conference rooms, the Joint Information Center (a press corps composed of press officers from several city agencies who disseminate information to the public ), a state-of-the-art media briefing room, Watch Command, and the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). There is also space for senior officials to meet and the building is staffed 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
The nerve center of OEM is its Watch Command. It is staffed 24/7 with representatives from the City’s public safety agencies. They monitor police and fire broadcasts and dispatch OEM Field Responders if an incident warrants. Watch Commanders also have access to New York City’s 911 systems and are responsible for alerting local, state, and federal officials of emergencies. They maintain direct contact with the New York State Emergency Management Office and surrounding jurisdictions to lend support or aid if needed.
OEM’s new headquarters is home to the Emergency Operations Center. The EOC serves as a central clearinghouse where local, state, and federal agencies can gather to asses and respond to a number of emergencies. Activated for numerous events, the new EOC contains workstations for some 130 city, state, federal, and non-profit agencies. There is secure communications equipment, large video displays, and space for Geographic Information Systems. The new structure also has the distinction of being New York City’s first “green” agency headquarters utilizing energy-saving and environmentally sound construction techniques. OEM qualifies for the Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification for its new building.
According to Commissioner Bruno at the unveiling ceremonies, “New York City is at the forefront of emergency management planning and this new facility will continue to move us forward.”
- Weber, Bruce (2012-01-19). "Richard J. Sheirer, Official in Charge of Sept. 11 Rescues, Dies at 65". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
- OEM New York City Office of Emergency Management
- New York City Office Of Emergency Management Activates Corporate Emergency Access System in Partnership with BNET & Send Word Now
- William K. Rashbaum and Michelle O'Donnell: Roles in Disaster Cause Rift in City. In: The New York Times, April 3, 2004.
-  Press Release, Office of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg