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Reinertson to Focus on Amtrak Emergency Management

As Susan Reinertson begins her task of building a new Emergency Management and Corporate Security department at Amtrak, she believes her Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) education will be invaluable.

More than two years after joining Amtrak, the 2005 Center graduate has been tasked with consolidating eight emergency management-related functions into a cohesive unit for the national passenger railroad. She believes many of the concepts nurtured at CHDS will be useful.

"Homeland security is all about the relationships and working together to face the challenges," Reinertson said by phone from her Washington, D.C., office. "Getting buy-in and understanding change in an organization is always a challenge. CHDS confirmed for me that it’s all about the relationships. When you have buy-in and talk to people about the same challenges, you can do so much more."

The new department’s focus will be preparedness, continuity of operations and security risk strategy. The integration aligns with Amtrak’s strategic plan in ensuring safety and security of its employees and customers while better preparing it to respond to incidents on the rail, Reinertson said.

"The new team will identify opportunities to strategically coordinate, train and put into practice consistent and efficient response and recovery efforts to better ensure the safety and security of our customers and employees," Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman said in a written statement.

One of the first orders of business will be revising and updating emergency response plans in cooperation with Amtrak’s regional divisions. Also, Amtrak will focus on conducting emergency exercises with employees and local, state and federal partners.

Reinertson has years of experience in emergency management. She is a former director of the North Dakota Division of Emergency Services and from 2006-2009 was regional administrator of FEMA Region 10, which covers the Pacific Northwest.

Prior to joining Amtrak in January 2010 as chief operations administrator, she owned a consulting business advising senior leaders in the public and private sectors on emergency management and homeland security issues.

About 17,000 of Amtrak’s roughly 19,000 employees work in operating divisions spread across the country to move passengers on approximately 21,000 miles of track. During the first half of fiscal year 2012, the company saw a 3.7 percent passenger increase over the same period the previous year which set an annual record of 30.2 million riders.