New England Coordinates Regional Response to Climate Change

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by Kathryn Carley, Commonwealth News Service

The six New England states are joining forces to ensure their emergency responders are well-trained to handle a predicted increase in the number of climate change-related weather events.

The new Northeast Emergency Management Training and Education Center will provide expanded resources and technical support to officials as they cope with coastal flooding, blizzards or drought-related wildfires.

Dawn Brantley, acting director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said the center will use emerging technologies to get more training to more professionals, more easily.

“We can adapt and implement them to make sure that we are always, you know, on the leading edge of emergency management training and education,” Brantley explained.

Brantley pointed out Massachusetts will lead the new effort, as it has the largest emergency training and exercise staff among the New England states.

Studies show New England is warming faster than other parts of the U.S., due not only to changes in the climate, but rising temperatures in coastal waters, including the Gulf of Maine, which experienced its second-hottest year on record in 2022.

Brantley noted the role of emergency management is expanding along with the impact of climate change.

“We’re seeing changes in the frequency, in the destructiveness, even in where disasters are occurring,” Brantley observed.

Brantley added there is a growing need among state and local emergency managers for improved access to training on emerging risks, including human-caused hazards and infectious diseases, as well as weather-related emergencies. The new center, she emphasized, will also train health workers in the public and private sectors.

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