From left, Walter Kowalczyk, Steve Kuhr and Terri Kuhr of...

From left, Walter Kowalczyk, Steve Kuhr and Terri Kuhr of the Strategic Emergency Group. Before the recent devestating tornadoes in Missouri, they spent time there advising emergency management and hospital officials. (May 26, 2011) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Along with everyone else, the husband-wife team of Steve and Terri Kuhr, and Walter Kowalczyk, watched in horror as scenes of devastation flashed across the television screen after a massive tornado swept across much of Missouri, and struck Joplin with particular venom. They had spent much time in Missouri as partners in an East Northport-based company they formed in 1999, the Strategic Emergency Group, disaster preparedness consultants.

Company president Steve Kuhr, of East Northport, a former deputy commissioner in New York City's Office of Emergency Management, and Kowalczyk, of Williston Park, a former division chief for the FDNY's EMS, began working in Missouri four years ago. They advised the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency and the Missouri Hospital Association, running through "table top" discussions on how to deal with natural disasters, as well as simulated drills on moving patients from one hospital to another. "There's a personal bond and some feelings," said Kowalczyk, the company's operations vice president. "We knew the people we worked with were putting our plans into action."

One of their most significant deals has been with the New York Yankees, preparing emergency operation plans for the new stadium in the Bronx. Steve Kuhr and Kowalczky met in the 1970s, when they worked for a private ambulance company in Brooklyn. They both joined the FDNY in February 1980. Terri Kuhr is chief executive of the company.

These days, Kowalczyk said, "We make a living. It's a tough market," becoming more crowded after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, with emergency preparedness companies. "We're a small business," he said. "But the lights are still on."

Leslie Porth, a vice president with the Missouri Hospital Association, said SEG had provided "extensive consultation and support and helped us execute several complex exercises . . . I feel that this is one of many components of our efforts that have led to a very smooth response to a catastrophic event."

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