Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director David Paulison promised that state and local governments can expect swift action from now on from the "New FEMA," and vowed to restore trust in the agency, at the National Emergency Preparedness Conference Oct. 11, in Sacramento, Calif.

"Absolutely we are changing the way we respond to disasters," Paulison said after his speech to an audience of volunteers and first responders. "We are no longer going to wait for a local government to become overwhelmed or a state to become overwhelmed before FEMA moves in."

Paulison said the organization has been strengthened by doubling its staff and budget, and by people who "know what they're doing." Paulison was adamant that FEMA will regain the confidence of state and local governments, saying, "The proof will be in the pudding. Saying it over and over isn't going to make it happen."

Paulison called on all Americans to take a role in emergency management, outlined his vision of the New FEMA, and spoke of partnerships with the private sector and a more integrated FEMA that is more in tune with the needs of each state.

The conference was sponsored by the Sacramento Region Citizen Corps Council and the California Governor's Office.

Jim McKay  |  Associate editor