Emergency Management Blogs

Emergency Management Blog - Eric Holdeman: Disaster Zone
Disaster Zone

by Eric Holdeman: Emergency management in the blogosphere

Subscribe via RSS | About this Blog | Contact Eric Holdeman | Ericpedia

April 2012 Archives
April 04, 2012

This Emergency Services Manager position is in California.  The County Administrative Officer (CAO) is listed as the director, but what that means is that this position does most of the work of a director.  


You need four years of experience and some other qualifications to apply.  This is not for the novice, or recent graduate.

Leave a comment
April 04, 2012


Claire Rubin, aka Recovery Diva, now has her revision of a very popular textbook on the street.  See 2nd Edition: Emergency Management: The American Experience 1900-2010

What's new in this edition:


  • Updates and improves on the award-winning first edition
  • Supplies an in-depth analysis of the political and policy processes of U.S. federal government involvement in emergency management from 1900 to 2010
  • Facilitates the background needed to understand the essential political and policy underpinnings of emergency management
  • Reports on the changes to policy, shifts in DHS and FEMA, and the emerging responses to disasters from 2005–2010
  • Includes a new chapter covering the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill


Following in the footsteps of its popular predecessor, the second edition of Emergency Management: The American Experience 1900–2010 provides the background needed to understand the key political and policy underpinnings of emergency management, exploring how major "focusing events" have shaped the development of emergency management. It builds on the original theoretical framework and chronological approach, but improves on the first edition by adding fresh information on older events such as Hurricane Katrina as well as a new chapter covering the BP oil spill in 2010 and the unprecedented characteristics of the disaster response to it. The final chapter offers an insightful discussion of the public administration concepts that constitute the larger context for consideration of emergency management in the United States for more than a century.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction: 110 Years of Disaster Response and Emergency Management in the United States; Claire B. Rubin

Chapter 2: Focusing Events in the Early Twentieth Century: A Hurricane, Two Earthquakes, and a Pandemic; David Butler

Chapter 3: The Expanding Role of the Federal Government: 1927–1950; David Butler

Chapter 4: The Formative Years: 1950–1978; Keith Bea

Chapter 5: Federal Emergency Management Comes of Age: 1979–2001; Richard T. Sylves

Chapter 6: Emergency Management Restructured: Intended and Unintended Outcomes of Actions Taken since 9/11; John R. Harrald

Chapter 7: 2005 Events and Outcomes: Hurricane Katrina and Beyond; Melanie Gall and Susan L. Cutter

Chapter 8: The System Is Tested: Response to the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill; John R. Harrald

Chapter 9: From a Painful Past to an Uncertain Future; Patrick Roberts, Robert Ward, and Gary Wamsley

Chapter 10: The Evolving Federal Role in Emergency Management: Policies and Processes; Patrick Roberts, Robert Ward, and Gary Wamsley

Leave a comment
April 05, 2012

EPICC is a private sector venture to have businesses become better prepared for disasters and to become more disaster resilient.  Emergency Preparedness for Industry and Commerce Council is putting on a two day conference (they call it a forum), May 15-16 in Vancouver, BC.


Click here to register  I'm always interested in finding out how others "do disasters" and there are slight variations on the American and Canadian ways of doing things.  With our Cascadia Subduction Fault we share a common hazard and learning to work together more efficiently and effectively would be a good thing to do.


Amy Romanas shared this information, eh!


Leave a comment
April 05, 2012


Leave a comment
April 05, 2012

Kevin Wallinger, Vancouver's director of emergency management, has been let go.  In summary that is it.  No details, no explanation.


What typically does an emergency management director in?


  • First of all, it is a big event that does not go well.  When heads need to roll, you know the emergency management director will be the first to go.  Kind of the pascal lamb during this Holy Week, a sacrifice for the many.  I always said that my head would be placed on a pike outside the county courthouse as a warning to all who enter there not to screw up.
  • Then there is the, "Not getting along with the boss."  Perhaps the EM Director doesn't take directions well and is not doing the things that the boss wants done.  That is sure to lead to the gallows at some point.
  • Sometimes it is a longer process.  There may be character traits that do the director in.  If all the feedback that is going up the chain is negative from many of the regional partners it can be "the end."  
  • Finally, there can be the a real character flaw.  Misappropriation of property or funds that get people in trouble, along with the "affair" with a staff person, etc. etc.
In the end, there can be many more reasons to fail then there is to succeed.  When you "serve at the pleasure" it means just that!



Leave a comment
April 05, 2012

Did I forget to say that the country in question and the election is in France?  See How a Terror Attack Saved French President Nicolas Sarkozy


In 2008 I closely watched the United States' Presidential Debates and much of the commentary on the different candidate's positions.  Not once did I hear terrorism or Homeland Security mentioned.  I expect the same for this election, unless there is an attack on the United States of one form or another.  Then, as is almost always the case the terrorism will draw support for the incumbent as we rally around our national leader.


I'm not wishing for an attack on the United States.  I'm not thinking that if one happened that it would benefit President Obama.  I do wish there would at least be a discussion of the issues surrounding homeland security.  Healthy debates are always good for America.  Maybe it is not possible to have that type of "healthy" debate anymore.  But, I think the more people consider our risks and how we are preparing as a "whole community" it would draw attention to everyone's role in preventing and responding to terrorism.



Leave a comment
April 06, 2012

Gerald Baron's latest blog post will blow your mind.  See Google's Project Glass offers stunning peek into the future  If you don't do anything else, watch the video link that gives you a small demonstration of how the Google Glasses might work for the average person.


What it looks like on a person.


I've written before about how we don't know what the next technological jump will be that "changes everything" in our world.  Typically it is consumer driven changes that soon move into the government and emergency management worlds.  Tablet computers are just now doing that with full assimilation still a few years away.  The Google Glasses open up another whole world of possibilities.  One not mentioned by Gerald would be an EMT at an accident scene beaming images back to an Emergency Room doctor when he or she needs advice on treatment.


Gerald also hit on the "BIG ISSUE" of how to manage all that data that is being send and accumulated.  I've already heard emergency managers shying away from social media because they don't know how to handle the intake and sorting of all the information that is out there.  Hopefully there will be other smart people working on that aspect of picking the important needle out of the haystack of information that needs to be sorted through.


Leave a comment
April 06, 2012

Effective warnings have three parts to them.  First you must detect that there is a hazard.  We are counting on the National Weather service to do this for us.  And, they have gotten much better at it especially with severe storms and tornadoes.  


Then people must be warned of the impending storms and dangers.  Again, we are making progress.  For the recent Texas Tornadoes they did an excellent job of using some social media to accent the warnings.  The last and hardest piece is now getting people who have been warned to take action to protect themselves and their families.  This then is what the NWS is working on.




They are rolling out and testing some new language, see New severe weather warnings aim to get people to act quickly  This language is only being tested in a few tornado prone areas.  The new warning system will use more graphic and telling language to push people to prepare, such as “this storm is not survivable” and “mass devastation is highly likely, making the area unrecognizable to survivors.”


I'm not too sure that this language change will work.  When the issue is that previous warnings have not panned out and people think you have been crying wolf too much, then calling it something else will have no impact.  


I do think that using social media to provide warnings has a good chance of motivating people since the general populace will believe their friends, neighbors and relatives before they will trust government officials.  Let's see what happens with the tests.

1 comment
April 07, 2012

Climate adaptation is a topic we emergency managers need to be paying attention to.  It isn't like we are going to implement some form of carbon emissions reductions on our own, but it is the consequences of global warming that we will have to deal with.  The increase in frequency of disasters coming from storms on land and on the sea will keep us busy.  


I suppose if we are interested in our own job continuity we could leave well enough alone since we are in the disaster business and business has been good and projected to get even better.   However, we need to think about ways we can mitigate the damages that disasters have on our communities.  Better land planning and building codes are two ways in which we can participate in disaster reduction.  Forming relationships with our counterparts in the building and land planning offices is one way we can make a difference in future development.  Influencing who we can, when we can to make better choices.


Yes, the odds are stacked against us because people are wont to do what they want to do.  Government regulation, especially permitting is seen as an intrusion into people's "freedom" to build, live and develop what they want without a fear of the long term consequences.


For more background information see The Resistance to Climate Change Adaption which has a link to a New IPCC Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation









April 07, 2012

It is interesting to me how my military training during the cold war has prepared me for space weather of the 21st Century.  The cover story in Emergency Management Magazine's current edition is on space weather, see Space Weather: What Emergency Managers Need to Know


After being trained to fight as a Infantry Lieutenant in Vietnam the rest of my career primarily focused on defeating the Russian hoard as they stormed across Europe.  This included the use of tactical nuclear weapons as offensive and defensive weapons.  One of the simple things a military unit was to do prior to a "friendly" detonation of a nuke was to turn off all electronic devices like radios and take down antennas.  Jump ahead 30 years and once again it is a simple EMP precautionary measure to unplug phones and other electronic equipment in our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that have become heavy technology users with computers and audio visual systems.  


It would be appropriate to start having conversations with your local electrical system providers to find out what, if anything, they are doing, or can do to lessen the impacts of electromagnetic pluses.  As the story relates, we have a long term forecast for heavy electromagnetic storms in May 2013.  That gives us a bit of time to do some pre-planning on mitigation steps that can be taken for that event, or any other space weather forecast.  Most electric transformers are now made overseas.  The lead time is along one to get replacements and if a number of them were blown out--it could be many months before replacements were available.


Check out the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center's web page and it is there that you can sign-up to get email alerts and warnings, see Alerts & Warnings 

Leave a comment

Latest Emergency Management News

FirstNet Is Seeking a New General Manager

The First Responder Network Authority is looking for a new general manager to take Bill D’Agostino's place and lead the nationwide communications project.
Connecticut Plans to Protect Utilities from Cyberthreats

The plan aims to protect lives and commercial activities against a “mounting threat” from nation states and individuals trying to hack into utility companies.
Storm shelter used by residents in Moore, Okla.
Homeowners Beef Up Preparedness with Storm Shelters

Association estimates that as many as 200,000 safe rooms have been added in Texas and Oklahoma in the last year.

Latest Blog Posts RSS

Emergency Management Blog - Eric Holdeman: Disaster Zone Global Warming, Getting Better or Getting Worse?
Apr 14 Please leave a note on my grave and tell me what happened.…
Emergency Management Blog - Eric Holdeman: Disaster Zone Quote: On Continuous Learning
Apr 14 Never stop learning. Today that means keeping up with technology.…
Should Emergency Managers Be Change Agents?
Apr 11 Professor Tom Drabek argues that it is time for emergency managers to expand their vision.…

4 Ways to Get EM

Subscribe to Emergency Management MagazineFollow Emergency Management on TwitterSubscribe to Emergency Management HeadlinesSubscribe to Emergency Management Newsletters

Featured Papers

Blog Archives