Here at Hagerty, we truly believe the advantage is our people. September is National Preparedness Month, a time that stands to encourage preparedness for disasters that could happen at any time. In honor of this, we are highlighting two members of our Preparedness Team to discuss their professional experiences, personal preparedness measures, and what they find most rewarding about working in the emergency management field.
1. Tell us about yourself and how your career path led you to Hagerty Consulting.
Kelly Girandola: I was introduced to Hagerty Consulting in 2015 while working as an intern at one of Hagerty’s client sites. From that experience, I spent the next few years working in consulting at a different firm building active shooter and anti-terrorism awareness training courses. Afterward, I then spent some time working for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before reaching out to Hagerty regarding their active threat work. As of today, I am excited to say I have been a member of Hagerty’s Preparedness team for a year and a half and am grateful to co-lead the Division’s Security and Threat Management Sector with Sam Currie.
Sam Currie: I began my career at Hagerty Consulting as an intern in 2016, working in business development from our Washington, D.C. office. Shortly after that, I was hired as a full-time employee to work on financial recovery efforts with a federal client. Following my time in the Recovery division, I transitioned to Preparedness, where I spent the next few years supporting numerous Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack (CCTA) Programs. As a part of Hagerty’s Security and Threat Management Sector, I lead various active threat and CCTA training courses and exercises across the country. As of January 2022, I am a co-lead for the Security and Threat Management portfolio with Kelly Girandola.
2. What do you find most rewarding about working in the field of emergency management, specifically preparedness?
Kelly Girandola: Emergency Management is a relatively young but rapidly evolving industry. In my current role, I am uniquely positioned to not only advise our clients on how to best prepare for their worst day but also to positively contribute to the development of best practices and standards that can have a meaningful impact on society.
Sam Currie: Working with small and large regions, various disciplines, and agencies to help them prepare for and respond to active threat situations has been incredibly rewarding. It is not a matter of “if”—it’s “when”—and our ability to help regions train and exercise their capabilities before disasters strike is ultimately the most fulfilling aspect of preparedness for me.
3. What low/no-cost preparedness steps can individuals and communities take to strengthen disaster resiliency?
Kelly Girandola: It may seem obvious, but I think the most effective low/no-cost preparedness tip is to practice extreme awareness throughout your daily routines and put intentional and careful thought into how you exist in your surroundings. Whether rehearsing multiple egress routes out of your office building, adding safety or medical kits to your car and home, or taking a First Aid or Stop the Bleed® course, small preparedness initiatives can go a long way. I love the phrase “you are your own first responder” – this mantra underlines the fundamental importance of planning for the best while preparing your surroundings and circumstances for the worst.
Sam Currie: Individuals and communities can and should read past After Action Reports (AAR) to help inform the development of their own organization’s plans, policies, and procedures. Furthermore, learning from past incidents and utilizing the information gathered to create or update plans can be extremely valuable at little to no cost. In addition, organizations should socialize any changes made to response plans and conduct training courses and exercises to test their plans to ensure they are understood and work in simulated situations.
4. How do you personally stay prepared for emergency situations?
Kelly Girandola: As a female living in downtown D.C., I take reasonable protective measures when I go out alone, such as carrying pepper spray, ensuring my phone is fully charged, and avoiding notoriously unsafe areas. I also keep a tourniquet in my home and my car in case of emergencies. In fact, I gifted my entire family tourniquets for Christmas last year in their stocking stuffers. Beyond that, I also read After Action Reports (AAR) and try to stay updated on local news stories or publications regarding current and emerging threats, technologies, and tactics.
Sam Currie: I am incredibly vigilant when I go out in public areas. There is a constant need to be aware of your surroundings and know your exit routes. No one truly knows how they will respond in an emergency situation, but being prepared ahead of time is our greatest asset during times of crisis.
5. What are you passionate about outside of work?
Kelly Girandola: I am passionate about the importance of following and staying involved in local politics and elections. Beyond that, and perhaps more importantly, I love to be a bandwagon sports fan for any team my husband likes to watch. I am also a sucker for any type of live music anywhere it can be found.
Sam Currie: Whenever I am not working, I am typically watching sports, enjoying the beautiful weather outside, or playing a round of golf. Anything that gets me outside and active is always a plus. Go Patriots!
To learn more about Hagerty’s work supporting clients in capabilities assessments, organized exercises, and emergency preparedness plan development, visit our Preparedness page here.
Kelly Girandola is a Managing Associate and co-lead of the Security and Threat Management sector within Hagerty’s Preparedness Division. At Hagerty, Kelly has led and supported a diverse portfolio of projects, including multiple Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack (CCTA) training, exercise, and planning programs. Previously, Kelly worked for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a Special Assistant to the Secretary in Washington, D.C., where she provided various project support to the senior leadership team.
Sam Currie is a Managing Associate and co-lead of the Security and Threat Management sector within Hagerty’s Preparedness Division. In his role at Hagerty, Sam has led and contributed to the development of various CCTA projects, responder-focused operational guides, and Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) guided exercises. Prior to joining Hagerty, Sam supported post-disaster recovery efforts by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Community Disaster Loan (CDL) Program.