Institute for Disaster Mental Health to host annual conference

The Institute for Disaster Mental Health (IDMH) at SUNY New Paltz will hold its 13th annual conference, titled “Effective Response to Mass Transportation Disasters,” on April 15 in the Lecture Center. The conference will address the complex emergency response and mental health challenges generated by mass transportation disasters including aviation, train and bus crashes.

The Institute for Disaster Mental Health conference is the only one of its kind in New York State that brings together representatives from diverse disciplines who all must play a role in preparing for and responding to future disasters. Workshops will be tailored for different professional groups likely to be involved in the response to high-intensity disasters caused by mass transportation incidents and delivered by leaders in the emergency management and mental health fields with plenty of the “on the ground” experience.

“In recent years, New York State disaster workers have responded to serious plane, train, commuter ferry and bus accidents,” said Dr. James Halpern, director of the Institute for Disaster Mental Health. “These events pose significant challenges including complex interagency responses, exposure to mass casualties and serious injuries, involvement of media and law enforcement, and the need to support traumatic bereavement among victims’ loved ones.”

Halpern added, “It’s essential that all responders not only train for these events, but train together in order to maximize collaboration and effectively address the needs of victims and survivors of these traumatic disasters. Given New York State’s role as a global transportation hub, it’s fitting that the event’s sponsor, the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, is committed to maximizing preparedness throughout the state by supporting this multifaceted training.”

Max Green, coordinator of emergency operations for the National Transportation Safety Board, and Dr. Laurie Ann Pearlman, Ph.D., author of Treating Traumatic Bereavement: A Practitioner’s Guide, will serve as keynote speakers. Interactive workshops will include:

  • Aviation Accident Case Study – Asiana Airlines Flight 214, San Francisco, CA, July 6, 2013: The Importance of Situational Awareness: Max Green, Coordinator, Emergency Operations, National Transportation Safety Board
  • Treating Traumatic Bereavement in Adults: Laurie Ann Pearlman, Ph.D., author of Treating Traumatic Bereavement: A Practitioner’s Guide
  • Engaging Faith Communities in Crisis Settings: Increasing Religious Literacy and Competency: Peter Gudaitis, M.Div., President, National Disaster Interfaith Network
  • A New York State Structured Mental Health Response to Disaster: Steve Moskowitz, L.M.S.W., Director, Bureau of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Office of Mental Health, and Greg Brunelle, ‎M.S., M.A., Vice President, Emergency Management and Community Resilience at Tetra-Tech

For a full presenter line-up and more information about registering, please visit:

Note: thanks to generous sponsorship by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, a limited number of conference registration fees will be covered. For more information, contact IDMH Coordinator Rebecca Rodriguez at