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November 2010 Archives
November 02, 2010

I have typically thought of FLIR cameras as those mounted on helicopters and used to find people either lost in the woods, or search for perpatrators who are trying to elude law enforcement. 

Today I found out there is a whole host of FLIR Cameras that have other purposes, to include emergency management.  For instance the ability to detect natural gas leaks or water damage.

Another technology tool for the kit!

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November 04, 2010

The 2011 National Level Exercise will focus on a natural hazard for the first time.  The scenario is a New Madrid earthquake that threatens the Southeastern portion of the USA. 

The link above is to DHS Fact Sheet that is looking to garner private sector participation in the exercise.  2011 is the two hundredth anniversary of the earthquake that shook the entire region.  It rang church bells hundreds of miles away and changed the flow of the Mississippi River, having it flow north for a short period of time.

The exercise is scheduled for May 2011, which like all previous TOPOFF exercises means they are behind the eight ball in planning for the exercise.  I base this on the fact that they are only now looking for private sector participation. 

When I'm highly stressed my left eye gets a very small twitch in it, imperceptable to anyone except myself.  The last time my eye twitched was during the exercise design phase for TOPOFF 2 that was held in King County. 

Hopefully other emergency managers won't be experiencing unnecessary stress during the design phase for this exercise--but I doubt it!

One of my personal quotes that is a favorite reads, "To err is human, but to really screw up you need DHS guidance and contractor support." 


Good luck everyone!

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November 06, 2010

The latest national employment statistics are looking more positive with non-farm employment up 151,000 in October.  The employment numbers came a bit too late to help the Democrats out with the mid-term elections.

On the other side of the coin we see government jobs in the dumper.  Here in the Pacific NW King County is looking to cut 460 positions in 2011 and the City of Seattle has targeted 300 jobs for elimination.  Fortunately for many these are unfilled authorized positions that have been left vacant due to the uncertainty of the economy.

Nationally there were 7,100 government jobs that were eliminated in August and September.  This trend will likely continue into the new year.  The example below is for only two jurisdictions, but I think it is being replicated in most communities to one degree or another.

In King County there was a ballot measure to increase the sales tax to support law, safety and justice.  This encompasses cops, courts, jails, judges and the prosecutor's office. These functions of local government are now eating up 76% of the overall county budget.  Since the electorate turned down that proposal--will the cuts be taken specifically to those government functions?  I expect we are going to need to dig ourselves deeper in the hole before citizens complain about the levels of service that they are getting.

There will of course be a few jobs out there.  For instance I saw where the Washington State Patrol is seeking to hire 60 new troopers.  If you have some IT expertise you may even be in high demand depending on your skill set.

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November 06, 2010

I actually borrowed this idea from the Norwalk Fire Department 

The types of things they suggest you do with your extra hour are:

  • Check your smoke detector/change the batteries
  • Update your communications plan
  • Rotate your disaster supplies
  • Start a disaster kit for home, car and work if you don't have one already

Time does matter.  I call it the only resource we can't replace.  So put that extra hour you have tonight to good use!

There are plenty of good web sites that can provide you guidance on what you should be doing.  Check out my blog listing/Ericpedia for some links.



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November 06, 2010

NPR had a story on how the terrorist threat keeps evolving.  Nothing stays constant for long.  The old style "terrorist camp" may be gone because of the target signature that it gives off.  Law enforcement officers are now more worried about "lone wolf" actors who don't talk to anyone and may have significant capabilities due to their personal background and equipment that they have collected.

One only needs to look at aircraft passenger security to see the evolution.  Box cutters, other "sharps," shoes come off, liquids get dumped--all in reaction to previous attempts to take down commercial planes.

The latest use of cargo shipping and concealing a weapon in a printer is what is being looked at now.  Government ountermeasures are sure to come.  Then there will be another counter-counter measure from terrorist groups.




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November 06, 2010

“Never leave well enough alone.”  Raymond Loewy 

Change is constant.  It demands that we keep up with it.  There are some non-physical basics than may never change, but if it is in the physical world—eventually circumstances will bring about change.  Another related quote to this one would be “If it is not broke, break it,” which is of course the opposite of “Leave well enough alone.” 

Knowing when to make a change is of course an art.  Clinging to what was is our typical human reaction.  I look at the job situation here in the USA and I see the passing of many blue collar jobs and conversion to a knowledge society.  If you are not learning you probably are falling behind in one way or another. 

Never stop being a student!

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November 06, 2010

Anyone who has worked in emergency management in one of the industrial states has probably come in contact with nuclear energy.  Since the Three Mile Power Plant incident the exercise requirements that include the local emergency management has brought forth a pretty robust preparedness program. 

There is a lead article, and good one, in the September edition of the Natural Hazards Observer on nuclear power and the risks and benefits of these programs here in the United States and abroad.

With global warming nuclear energy is a pretty attractive alternative to coal fired power plants.  With that benefit comes risks of long term polution (you only need to look at Handford, right here in Washington State to see what can happen) and in other parts of the world it can be downright scary what the future might look like when a rogue nation does have nuclear weapons and the will to use them--no matter what the consequences.

This topic is not going away and the linked article above will give you some food for thought.

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November 07, 2010

To the victor go the spoils, or so the saying goes.  This means that the 26 new State Governors will have the opportunity to make key political appointments.  In many states this includes the Emergency Management Director's position.

I recall when I saw a survey that I shared with you earlier about the seniority status of State Emergency Management Directors I was amazed at how little time in office and overall emergency management experience they bring to the position.  The average time in service is about to go way down!  At one point it was less than three years of experience.

They will be taking over departments that do not have all the necessary resources to be successful in all circumstances.  Transition times are dangerous for a number of reasons.  One of which is that the new leadership team doesn't have the experience of leading during disasters.

It will be an interesting time indeed!

November 08, 2010

Detroit:  Emergency Management Coordinator

DEPARTMENT PROFILE:  The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Managements is searching for a strong leader and experienced manager for the position of Emergency Management Coordinator.  The Emergency Management Coordinator would assist the Director with the coordination, preparation, and implementation of plans, operations, training, and information sharing related to an all hazards environment of natural and/or man made disasters.  The candidate must have a strong ability to integrate strategies, network and coordinate services with a broad range of stakeholders that include neighboring counties, state and federal agencies, private sector, voluntary associations and community organizations.

The desired candidate must demonstrate the ability to:
1. Respond to incidents as a member of the Incident Command/Unified Command (IC/UC).
2. Activate and open the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) when required.
3. Supervise and act as the Emergency Operations (EOC) manger when required.
4. Supervise the preparation of operational plans for pre-planned events, training/exercises, and
5. Responsible for the Preparation and of Standard Operating Procedures.
6. Review related Homeland Security and Emergency Management documents to become                     
     familiarized and provide summaries.
7. Supervise and conduct risk assessments, capability assessments and vulnerability assessments.
8. Respond to request for information and data calls from a variety of agencies and departments.
9. Supervise and coordinate with Governmental, Non Governmental Officials (NGO’s) private
    and volunteer agencies.                      
10. Share appropriate information with public and private partners when appropriate.
11. Maintain oversight and participate as a member of the Detroit Local Emergency Planning
12. Provide community education on emergency, preparedness, response and recovery  
13. Supervise document control for the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency
14. Perform general office management duties.
15. Attend meetings, conferences, seminars and training as required.                  

Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university. Eight years of progressively responsible managerial experience in homeland security and/or emergency management and disaster operations. Related management experience in a public safety, military, intelligence, or equivalent large-scale operation will be considered as qualifying experience.  A Professional Emergency Management Certifications may be considered as a substitute for two years experience.

Submit resume to Arese L. Robinson, Arese L. Robinson, Appointments and Protocol Division, City of Detroit, Office of Mayor Dave Bing, 1126 Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, Detroit, Michigan 48226 or RobinsonAL@mayor.ci.detroit.mi.us

Note:  At the discretion of the Mayor, any of the qualifications may be substituted with an equivalent combination of education and experience.

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November 08, 2010

I read once where the most frequent disaster is not flooding, but mud slides.  Generally you add water to a hillside and with gravity you can have a significant problem with unstable soils.  This event ruined a port for sure!

Check out this video of a mud slide decimating a port

This link was shared by Luke Meyers.

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