MACo Conference Attendees Hear Lessons for Addressing Civil Unrest

Dr. Wen of Baltimore City shares insight into public health needs surrounding emergencies.

Baltimore City officials recount their experiences in the unrest following Freddie Gray’s death.

In, After-Action: Lessons Learned from Baltimore City’s Unrest, Baltimore City officials from emergency management, public safety and health departments told the story from their perspective, with insight into the local government role in emergency response and recovery. Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, a MACo Board Member, facilitated the discussion.

Robert Maloney described his Department’s work coordinating the response to the death of Freddie Gray, and how their response is informing the City’s preparations for the trials in the Freddie Gray case. Maloney is the Director of the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management. He responded to a question about working with the schools during the emergency and described the partnership with the Health Department and other City agencies during the response.

Gary McLhinney spoke about the experiences of law enforcement in the response to the unrest. He described the result of high-pressure situations and suggested the need for shorter shifts during emergency response. McLhinney is Director of the Office of Professional Standards, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Dr. Wen described how the Baltimore City Health Department met the needs of the community during the response. The Department opened up a 24-7 medication access line, extended pharmacy hours, and set up 24-7 mental health and crisis line. Dr. Wen is the Baltimore City Health Commissioner.

Wen shared how the emergency exposed mental health needs that accompany a large-scale trauma, and spoke of the Department’s work into the emergency’s recovery phase, and beyond. Move forward, the Department is focusing on prevention campaigns, including the prevention of youth violence. Dr. Wen is testifying on Capitol Hill this week on the subject of public health and emergency response.

Director Maloney concluded the session’s discussion with a comment on the importance of partnership. The assistance received from other jurisdictions, and the cooperation from the City’s Department’s was key to the response. Maloney shared how the Health Department’s quick response and proactive role in solving issues stemmed additional public safety needs at a moment when public safety and fire were already maximizing their resources.