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NACSD Bio | Greg Santa Maria

Greg Santa Maria, DHSc​

National Advisory Committee for Seniors and Disasters Board Member

Why I Serve...

"I choose to serve because I have a unique combination of operational and academic skills that can be utilized in the evolution of critical response plans. I have been on the frontlines of disaster, and developed concepts through research that create opportunities to ensure the safety of my fellow Americans. "

Greg Santa Maria

Greg Santa Maria, DHSc, MA, NR-P, is the Executive Director of the South Dakota Health Care Coalition (SDHCC). In his role, he has oversight of the coalition ASPR HPP grant and works with four coalition chapters to enhance healthcare preparedness and response, protecting the residents of South Dakota. He has transitioned the SDHCC into one of the first healthcare coalitions with an Area Command, providing operational support to facilities during disaster. A visionary, Dr. Santa Maria speaks frequently at national conferences on innovative concepts in healthcare disaster management.

In his previous role as Director of Public Safety at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, he maintained oversight of enterprise safety, security, and emergency management functions for 44 hospitals and more than 200 senior care locations in 26 states and nine countries. In that role, Greg has coordinated responses to Ebola, H1N1, and multiple mass gathering events. In 2019, he led an incident management initiative in Kissimmee Florida in response to Hurricane Dorian, safely evacuating 240 skilled nursing and assisted living residents from several facilities and then transitioned his organization to support a massive response to Coronavirus. Using his expertise in academic disaster research, he implemented an evidence-based disaster management process at Sanford Health, developing an ESF based corporate response plan which has been successfully tested during several actual incidents and is now organizational practice.

From 1996 to 2004, Dr. Santa Maria previously served as the program director for the Saint Vincents Hospital Paramedic Program in lower Manhattan, where he led the Saint Vincent’s Hospital Disaster and Terrorism Preparedness initiative. In 2002, he received a distinguished service award for his participation in the response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center of September 11, 2001. He is a former paramedic representative to the NYC Regional Emergency Medical Advisory Committee, and currently serves as a non-physician subject matter expert for the American Academy of Disaster Medicine.

In his academic research, Dr Santa Maria studied numerous large scale mass casualty incidents across the world. Finding similar decision-making errors in each event, Dr. Santa Maria went on to create an awareness program for first responders in decision making positions. This program assists responders in better understanding the dissociative effects of stress and the impact of amygdala hijack on decision making in stressful situations. Dr. Santa Maria has a special interest in the fusion of EMS into healthcare preparedness and response plans and is also working on a project related to enhancing disaster resilience among underserved and vulnerable populations.

Dr. Santa Maria holds a master’s degree in emergency and disaster management and a doctorate in health science focused on global health and politics. He also proudly remains a Nationally Registered- Paramedic, an honor he has been proud of for 32 years. Dr. Santa Maria has two adult children who are both in the healthcare field and in his spare time, he plays guitar and writes songs for his German Shepherd Dog Brutus.