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Homeland Security Student Helps Form Atrius Health’s Emergency Operations Plan

Thomas Cundari played an important role in developing the hazardous material annex.
Thomas Cundari played an important role in developing the hazardous material annex.

Thomas Cundari is a few months away from earning his Master of Science in Homeland Security, but the Van Loan School at Endicott College graduate student is already gaining valuable experience in the field.

Cundari helped develop Atrius Health’s hazardous material annex for its emergency operations plan earlier this year.

“That would be if a hazardous material incident occurred in the community,” Cundari, who graduated from Endicott with a liberal studies bachelor’s degree in 2016, explained. “They have practices throughout Massachusetts. It’s just a way for their employees to have a guideline for what to do in case this happens.”

Homeland Security Studies Director Paul Joyce and Assistant Director Engrid Backstrom met with Atrius Health on creating a partnership, and they saw this as a great opportunity for a current student to gain professional experience. That opened the door for Cundari, who was working for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) at the time.

According to Joyce, “Thomas was a great fit for this project. The experience he was gaining at his internship combined with his academic studies and interest in the emergency management field prepared him well for this assignment. He should be proud of his work and he represented the program in the highest manner.”

There already are basic guidelines for any person or group producing an emergency operations plan through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but Cundari’s experience at MEMA and his Endicott education also came in handy.

“You have to follow this massive online plan and go through and pick and choose what components of the plan you are going to use,” Cundari said. “From there it’s having a fundamental knowledge and understanding of the material. Once you get the hang of things, you’re going to see what aspects of the plan are needed and where they fit best. It’s basically thinking of every situation.”

Atrius Health Infection Control Program Manager Linda Foote oversaw the project, and she saw firsthand how Cundari’s educational foundation helped him deliver a “wonderful plan” in language that’s easy to understand. The company adopted his recommendations “wholeheartedly,” as well as set a new precedent thanks to his writing style, which is a skill the homeland security program stresses.   

“He came to the rescue and developed a really thorough document,” Foote said.

Enrollment in the Homeland Security program is on a rolling basis and programs are available on-site in Beverly or 100 percent online. Learn more about the Endicott Homeland Security graduate program, including specializations in the growing fields of emergency management and cybersecurity.