Ed Gabriel, principal deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, passed away Jan. 5 after a brief illness. He was 63 years old.
Gabriel, a Brooklyn native, was a veteran of the emergency management community, and was fondly remember by colleagues and friends as a leader and mentor. “While HOSA members were attending the HOSA Public Health Leadership Seminar in Washington, D.C., Mr. Gabriel would always stop by the leadership meeting and speak to the student leaders. He gave each a ‘challenge coin’ and took time to visit with each,” said HOSA-Future Health Professionals. “Mr. Gabriel provided us with such a special experience that was unforgettable.”
The National Association of State EMS Officials said that Gabriel “served the EMS community with tremendous honor” and “his numerous contributions will live on.”
Gabriel was a founding member of the Bay Ridge Ambulance Volunteer Organization (BRAVO) in 1974, which continues to this day to provide free pre-hospital emergency care to the New York neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, and Dyker Heights. From 1987 to 2005 he served in the New York City Fire Department, beginning as a paramedic and retiring as an assistant chief/division commander. From 2000 to 2006, he served as deputy commissioner for planning and preparedness at the New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYC OEM).
“Ed Gabriel was a consummate professional whose contributions had a long-lasting impact on the emergency management field,” NYC OEM tweeted. “We remember him fondly.”
After leaving FDNY, Gabriel spent six years at The Walt Disney Corporation as director of global crisis management and business continuity. He came to HHS in 2011.
“Ed brought an invaluable perspective to HHS,” Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec told HSToday. “With his background in emergency management and emergency medicine he saw how those two worlds intersected and influenced each other. He viewed every decision through that lens because he wanted to be sure that the products we develop and purchase, the policies and guidance we provide, and the training and tools we offer are realistic, user-friendly and useful to state and local officials and our private sector partners.”
“He helped us make a difference in how the healthcare and emergency managers think of each other and respond together to meet health needs after disasters,” Kadlec continued. “Our mission at HHS ASPR is to save lives and protect Americans from 21st century health security threats. Ed didn’t just embrace that mission; as a first responder, he lived it. Every single day. He will be sorely missed.”
Gabriel served on several National Academy of Sciences – Institute of Medicine (NAS-IOM) committees, the DHS Federal Emergency Management Agency National Advisory Council, and the Centers for Disease Control Board of Scientific Counselors for the Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response.
He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Patricia, daughters Elizabeth and Victoria, and twin brother Elias. His life was celebrated at a wake in Brooklyn on Jan. 9, followed by a funeral Mass at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Cathedral on Jan. 10. HHS held a memorial for Gabriel at D.C. headquarters on Jan. 17.