John Scrivani, a fatality management expert from Staten Island, is set to replace former head of Emergency Management Deanne Criswell as commissioner announced Mayor Bill de Blasio in his morning briefing on Wednesday, March 17.
De Blasio commended Criswell’s time spent working and handling the city’s numerous disasters. Criswell will be moving on up to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and was nominated for the position by President Joe Biden.
“Our Emergency Management team has been led with extraordinary ability over the last few years by Commissioner Deanne Criswell. Someone who did so much to help this city through the pandemic,” said de Blasio.
Scrivani is a proud fourth-generation Staten Islander and comes from a public safety family on the island.
“I’m looking forward to continuing the exceptional work that Commissioner Criswell has put in motion and once again serve the great people of New York City as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Scrivani in the briefing.
Scrivani, during the pandemic, served as the Director of Safety, Security and Emergency Management for the Virginia Department of Transportation coordinating the city’s transfer and recovery of residents before “answering the call” to help his hometown of New York City last May because of his experience.
Scrivani’s time spent helping both cities coupled with his background has weighed into his new leadership position as head of emergency management.
“I’ve devoted my career to serving my fellow citizens in good times and in times of crisis. I have wonderful memories of working parades, major sporting events here in New York City,” said Scrivani, “but I’ve also had my fair share of heart break during Hurricane Sandy and 9/11.”
In a podcast episode of COVID-19 Heroes, Scrivani described his background as a NYPD public safety officer for 20 years who got hurt on the job and had to retire early from his role as Commanding Officer of Emergency Services.
He then moved to the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) as deputy director of special operations, he said. There he oversaw operations, including for the World Trade Center recovery team that searched the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks for human remains among other responsibilities.
He said in the interview that he credits these two roles for his experience with fatality management in New York City, and that “focusing on the living” and the survivors gives a worker a better mindset to cope emotionally and mentally.