Emergency management students of different persuasions have the requirement to do papers or for advanced degrees a thesis of one type or another.
One of the big issues is that younger people are not staying in positions very long. Other departments poach them for their functions and I’m sure the lack of job loyalty is something at play too.
In the emergency management world the previous source of personnel came from second career individuals who once they came to emergency management had a tendency to stay in the career field and in many cases individual jobs for the rest of their work life. This is not so much the case, or at least to the degree it was previously
I think it would be a great study to look at the departures from jobs and why they left, who backfilled their positions and their backgrounds. And, then because of the trickledown effect of jobs opening and people moving around—who backfilled the opening caused by the next vacancy.
I believe it could be done pretty easily for a state given the cooperation from people and organizations. People would be interested in the report that is generated. Doing a paper or thesis that has value would be terrific.
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If you Google meta-scenario you won't find much information on the topic, so let's start with what it might look like. First, it is a scenario for a really big disaster. This is not your garden variety hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, etc.
Think catastrophic and you will be getting close to what a meta-scenario might include for damages, deaths, injuries, recovery timeline, etc. During Craig Fugate’s tenure the term “maximum of maximums” event is the type of disaster we are talking about. He specifically has said, “For that reason, in planning exercises, we create a realistic catastrophic disaster scenario that takes us past the point of failure, rather than create a manageable scenario that we know will allow us to succeed.”
This last part is what I have found that some emergency managers, maybe almost everyone stumbles on. I have hear two different people say something like the following in just the past month, “We can’t make the disaster so bad that everyone just throws up their hands and says there is nothing we can do.” This then sounds like the type of mega disaster the meta-scenario is designed to challenge us with.
Picture this, your response structure, fire and police, public works, are in shambles. Your Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is inoperable due to damages, you communications systems are in shambles, staff are victims themselves having lost loved ones and their homes. Equipment is destroyed or damaged, help is not coming from your typical mutual aid buddies because it is a regional disaster and they too are in the same poor shape you are in. Help is not hours away, it is five, seven, ten days away from arriving. Will you throw your hands up and say, “There is nothing we can do!”
No you don’t, you are still in charge. Even in large scale disasters only about 2% of the population actually dies so there will be plenty of survivors. Given these circumstances what you have to work with is what the “whole community” concept is based on. For me I’d have an Incident Action Plan (IAP) that has three priorities. 1) Rescue people 2) Provide medical treatment as best you can 3) Work to provide people care, shelter and food, wherever and however you can find it.
The above is not some centralized command and control event. It is dispersed and neighbor helping neighbor and strangers.
Shifting gears a bit. We have a Cascadia Earthquake Exercise coming up in 2016 that will simulate a subduction earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Washington and Oregon States. In this scenario I see the beach communities that are on our coasts decimated. In some cases it will be like the Hand of God swept the earth clean. Little to nothing will be left in place. Access to these coastal areas will be totally cut off due to damages to roadways. I’m thinking the only real access will be from the air or sea.
Given you are the “surviving” emergency manager you need to finds ways to “hang on” until help arrives. Making do with whatever is left. There will be survivors who need help. Help will not be coming anytime soon.
The above meta-scenario takes a community beyond local common practice—how we normally do disaster exercises. Every exercise doesn't need to be a meta-scenario one, but we do need these realistic exercises to educate our responders and residents as to how bad, bad can be.
The State of Washington has a DRAFT document on Meta-Scenario that I borrowed from for this blog post. It is not officially published yet, so I don't have a copy to link to. It is not specific to one type of disaster, it addresses the types of issues I raised above.
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I know most of you are just like me in that when you are given new software to use that replaces what you have been using for five years--"You are thrilled!"
This new blogging tool is supposed to be more stable and therefore improved, so here goes:
The end date for applications is coming up soon, so don't delay in applying. Note that the requirement for education, experience and certifications are the type you will be seeing more of.
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Riding the train to work in the morning gives one time to think and blog. So as we cross a swollen river right now I'll ignore the thought of flooding and go right to the crux of two issues.
If you are a frequent reader of this blog you know that I've been a proponent of drone technology and all that it can do for emergency management and for that matter emergency services. More and more agencies and departments are deploying the technology to help them with a variety of situations.
With any new technology there is bound to be a downside to the potential that it brings. Which got me thinking about how even smaller drones with a limited payload could be used as weapons of mass destruction. Stadiums of all types are checking bags and even installing metal detectors to inspect people as they enter their facilities. I'm wondering what can be done to thwart someone from loading up a pipe bomb or other device onto a small drone and just flying it over the stadium walls and into the crowd and remotely detonating a device? Hmm, it seems to me that it is not that easy a threat to counter. Perhaps in this case your response system is the best mitigation tool you have to care for people impacted by such an event.
Then there is the TSA inspection theater that happens at all the airports here in the United States. Shoes, belts, laptops, liquids, knives of course, pen knives included, are all screened and appropriately inspected or accounted for. So, here I am riding the train and they keep having this announcement that there are emergency tools located near the bathroom on each car. I just checked, and yes they have an axe there neatly strapped in for any emergency situation. I suppose the difference between being in an airplane and on a train is thought to be enough different that we take away pen knives for one and furnish an axe for another mode of transportation.
If it was a logical world, it would be so boring!
Bill Cumming shared a recent CRS report Drought in the United States: Causes and Current Understanding
The report does not draw any radical conclusions to support the causes of drought and linking current conditions to the impacts of climate change. Two things I did pick up from reading portions of the document is that on average 7% of the United States is typically in a drought condition from year to year. The other new term to me is megadrought, one that I had not heard of before. Evidently you can document earthquakes on the coast with tree rings and also document droughts from eons ago. Some megadroughts in the ancient past have lasted for decades.
The radical change that I see for our modern world, carbon aside, is the extensive use of water for supporting all facets of our 21st Century community. It is not just about drinking and supporting wildlife anymore. As we extract more water from the ground and don't replenish it we'll eventually run out of it, especially in those arid places that everyone seems to want to move to and have green lawns and golf courses.
Perhaps the rain storms that hit California over the weekend will begin to reverse the multi-year drought cycle that they are currently in--or not! It will take a significant change in climatic conditions for that reversal to happen. The one good thing that will come from this is the water conservation measures that are being put in place. As Las Vegas has shown, these types of conservation efforts can make a huge difference over time. It is the power of mitigation!
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This isn't about commercial spaceflight, but if you can get a drone into suborbital orbit and dwell there for long periods of time, say five years, there is a great deal that can be done with that technology. See Facebook may buy maker of drones that fly for 5 years They even call out the benefits for disaster recovery in this short article.
For more information on the company and the aircraft see Titan Solara 60
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Eight days and counting until this position closes Colorado Springs Utilities seeks emergency management specialist
As per normal these days--they are looking for people with experience, a degree and certifications. Not a "walk-on" position.
Here is the actual link to the job announcement
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Did you know that Target's sales were off by 40% in the fourth quarter of last year? This all had to do with the breach of their IT systems and theft of credit card information from their customers.
Fortunately for them from a financial standpoint they did have some insurance to cover some of their losses. But, there is little that can replace the loss of trust that customers have in shopping at Target. Today that loss of trust and decline in revenues took another "victim" Target announces technology overhaul, CIO departure
One really surprising statement from the above story was, "Jacob, who comes from a sales background and has been CIO since 2008, will be replaced by an external hire ..." My highlight. Hard to believe that in this large a company they would have a non-techie in charge of technology. There is too much specialization around to have someone who can't smell trouble being in charge of technology in today's tech world. My opinion anyway!
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The Great Conversation which is a gathering of security professionals has been meeting in Seattle. Today part of the event included remarks by Caitlin Durkovich, Assistant Secretary Infrastructure Protection, Department of Homeland Security. [Note: These are my notes of what I could capture from her talk.]
The Assistant Secretary started out her remarks by asking a few questions of the attendees:
Are you thinking about all-hazards as security professionals?
- What keeps you up at night?
- What services are you dependent on?
- Do you recognize that you are only as resilient as your weakest link?
- Do your vendors have business continuity plans and cyber security measures in place?
She went on to say:
The critical dependencies and interdependencies are important to understand.
Super Storm Sandy points to our complex society. The fuel supply is but one great example. We had fuel, but the distribution of fuel was the issue. There were cascading impacts to other critical infrastructures. Hospital generators needed fuel among many others. Gas stations need not only power, but communications to process credit card transactions.
At the Federal Level:
Last February, President issued two directives on critical infrastructure. The Federal Government has a role in supporting you.
The National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) has been rewritten and just re-published in January 2014.
There are major themes in the document that include the public-private partnership. How can we work together to identify and then fill the gaps? It is all based on relationships, trust and then communications [information sharing].
There is a call to action in the new NIPP. Key tenant, a call for strong regional partnerships on the physical and cyber sides. Look at things regionally across jurisdictions and disciplines. We need to work together!
Cybersecurity Framework: Collaborated with private sector and all levels of government. Voluntary framework. Understand and manage the risks. It is framework for both the public and private sectors.
C3 It is an innovative approach to cybersecurity and how to manage a very dynamic threat. Encourage everyone to look at the voluntary program. See
We are here to be part of your team. Information sharing of realtime information is our goal.
Protective Security Advisors (PSA) are there in every state across the nation. Looking at protective measures and reporting suspisous activities will help them do better threat assessments.
Near and dear to her heart. Engagement at higher levels with the power companies in the private sector is key. The electric industry was concerned after the Japan earthquake and tsunami. It has been a two year partnership of electric, nuclear, and power companies.
Goal not to rebuild and have repeat damages, but build for future risks that include climate change. They are inserting security and resilience into the conversation. This higher level engagement has motivated senior leaders to go back and ask questions of their staff about their internal preparedness.
Her organization collects information about infrastructure across the nation. They would like to have machine to machine type of communications if possible. They want to share good information back with you.
They are interested in combined public-private joint investments.
- Part of this is across jurisdictions and regions
- Public and private joint funding.
Physical and cyber threats are both significant. If you have one, it can impact both. The cost of disasters keeps going up. Seven years ago cyber and physical were separated. Today they are being put back together organizationally. These should not be addressed separately.
The A. Secretary pointed out that 90% of what they do at DHS is totally voluntary. This requires partnerships between government and the private sector.
She recognizes that there are conflicting policies between federal agencies that create issues for the private sector. These need to be identified and called out.
I'm pleased to report that based on the above talk and other conversations, DHS has definitely turned the corner and is taking an all-hazards approach to looking at the future. This is a huge step in the right direction. One challenge is that not all Federal Legislators see all-hazards as being a DHS mission. They are still stuck in the 2001 mantra of terrorism only.
One of the things we can do as emergency management professionals is to talk to our own legislators, local, state and federal, and help them understand that DHS has "got it right" and needs to be supported in their work to get the most bang for the buck (literally!) by taking a holistic approach.
Lastly, as I've written about for years now--Climate Adaptation is also priority for the Feds. Watch for much more emphasis on this topic in the future. I still remain optimistic that future federal funding streams will eventually open up to states and locals promoting adaptation planning.
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Ever wonder what might happen if one of those trucks carrying a load of gas cylinders is involved in an accident? Watch the video below and you will see what the worst case possibility is.
Note the behaviors of the people watching this event unfold and note that many don't sense the dangers of what they are observing. While this accident happened in Russia, it could be anywhere USA too.
Not a bad training video for first responders of all types.
The above link was featured in a Montana Emergency Services Bulletin.
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