We are always looking for best practices, reports on disasters, after action reviews and academic articles and practitioner information. Eureka! We've found it! Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D. maintains an extensive online collection of articles and publications dealing with homeland security and emergency management topics.
She has the bibliography in two parts. There is all of her material and plenty of other documents:
Thanks to Tom Antush for sharing the links above.
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At the end of the interview is this exchange:
Q. What made you decide to blog about your visit to Joplin?
A. "I’ve written a few times for the blog after helping with the response effort for other storms and flooding. I’m not what you call the perfect blogger, but it’s important as an agency to do this, to tell the public and our staff what’s going on. I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails from the staff saying thanks for being there"
The bold text is my highlight. So, he is not the perfect blogger. What exactly is a perfect blogger anyway. What I'm encouraged by is that he is actively trying to use the medium to communicate and getting some feedback from staff who appreciate his efforts to share his thoughts and feelings.
I don't think the "perfect blogger" exists. You could list some various traits like frequency and content, but in reality I think it is someone just working to share information. It may also be a way to release pent-up thoughts and reflections on a topic. I think of it as a journaling type of activity--so you could do it for an audience of one--you.
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This NY Times article Reconstruction Lifts Economy After Disasters highlights what some believes are the positive aspects of having a disaster.
If this is a true assumption that disasters stimulate the economy of a community then we should wish a really big one on the City of Detroit to help it rebuild to a new and better state of affairs.
Economic stimulus would be a "silver lining" from an otherwise dark cloud that hangs over cities and regions impacted by disasters. You can also say that flooding renews the farming soils of a region, and earthquakes eliminates substandard building stocks.
What a disaster recovery doesn't take into account are the lives lost, families torn apart and relationships ruined. If our priorities are more on the people side of things we will still seek to keep disasters at bay and find a different way to renew our communities without resorting to disasters.
What gets you in trouble with people is when you make a promise that you can't keep or won't keep. In recent days both President Obama and Secretary Napolitano have said that they will be with Joplin, MO until the end, until things are made right.
I don't think that those are good messages to send. It raises expectations that I don't think will be kept or even can be kept. Even if Obama is re-elected the recovery in Joplin is going to go on way beyond when he is in office. If he and she instead said, "We have disaster recovery programs that will help you recover. it will not happen overnight and we are not just handing out free money to everyone. There is paperwork involved and for those of you who have insurance and are not destitute you are only going to be eligible for low interest SBA loans, if we think you can pay them back to the Federal Government."
There are a few grant programs, but they will amount to around a maximum of $20K (I'm not sure what that number is these days--it has gone up since Katrina). You will not be made whole! We are going to do this in a slow and methodical way. So be patient.
This is where 360 degree leadership comes in. Craig, it is your job as FEMA Administrator to help senior appointed officials and elected officials understand the process. Another key mantra that fits the one above is, "Under promise and over deliver." This mission should you accept it is what I call, "Putting the bell on the cat." Easier said than done. Good luck!
CAE is a world leader in providing simulation and modelling technologies and integrated training solutions for the civil aviation industry and defence ... and is looking to expand into emergency management. Check out the job description below.
They want the person to work out of Florida and it looks like there will be some pretty extensive travel that goes with this job.
Job Description/Career Opportunity
CAE Professional Services has built a reputation for delivering strategic guidance and technical expertise to solve the client’s most complex problems. We work closely with our clients to define the problem space. Through an integrated team approach, we apply simulation-based tools and system-of-systems thinking to address the impacts of new systems, procedures, and policy on people, processes, and technology.
Our team works with research and development in various markets such as defense, homeland and domestic security, public safety and security, critical infrastructure and high technology.
CAE is seeking an Emergency Manager training expert with Business Development skills and extensive EM experience who can develop the marketing and product strategy of CAE’s simulation products which support emergency and homeland security operations.
ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES include the following: Other duties maybe assigned.
- Formulates EM training market and product strategy recommendations.
- Executes EM training business development strategy.
- Prepares and delivers oral and written presentations.
- Maintains and updates marketing knowledge database.
- Provides Marketing teams with research support for the development of win strategies.
- Researches, analyzes, and monitors the EM training market to determine market size, product/technology requirements, competitive position, and trends in training/product acquisition.
- Attendance and representation of CAE at relevant trade shows and industry forums.
- Domestic travel and extensive customer interaction.
QUALIFICATIONS To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
- Must be eligible for DoD Personal Security Clearance.
- Bachelor’s degree in Marketing, Business Management, Communications, Technology Management, or equivalent experience is required.
- Recent Emergency Operations Center experience (DHS, FEMA, Federal, State, Local )
- Emergency Management Training experience including scenario development
- Knowledge of NIMS, HSEEP, NPREP, Web EOC, Knowledge Center, NC4
- Strong communications and interpersonal skill.
- Ability to work both as a individual contributor and in a team environment. Ability to operate successfully in a volatile and dynamic market environment
- Must be proficient in Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Project, Word, Sharepoint and Access.
- Federal Grant writing experience a plus.
- Experience on major exercises (Ex. TOPOFF, HHS, Treasury, National Guard, FEMA, DHS, etc.)
- Experience in live events (Ex. Katrina, All-Hazard events, etc.)
- Cross discipline (Ex. Fire, EMS, HAZMAT, EM, Public Health, LE, USAR, etc.)
Education and/or Experience
- Recent experience in a DoD or Government environment preferred.
- 10+ years of related experience in Emergency Management Industry.
PHYSICAL DEMANDS The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
- Ability to operate a personal computer, communicate via telephone, and give oral presentations. Ability to travel both domestic and international.
WORK ENVIRONMENT The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
- Work in a regular office environment; communicate via telephone, and occasional domestic travel.
Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/D/V
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When a disaster strikes if your transportation system is not working you are in big trouble! You can't rescue, you can't communicate, you can't transport, supply, evacuate, etc. Deep dodo for sure!
Disaster resilience relies on robust critical infrastructures. The problem is much of our transportation system is aging out and will soon exceed it's life expectancy with no prospect of being replaced anytime soon. See Governing Magazine's article Six Ideas for Fixing the Nation's Infrastructure Problems which deals with trying to address the issue. Remember that "good streets" is one element of the "Big Lie" that is, "you can have them without anyone paying for them."
Then you go to Emergency Management Magazine's article Transportation Is a Double-Edged Sword that speaks to the importance of transportation and how you can't deal with it as a single jurisdiction. Transportation by its very nature is a regional issue. Check the list of agencies that the author suggests might be on your list to be coordinated with. How many of those are you actively engaged with now in your planning, training and exercising?
Yes communications is important--but, transportation will make or break your disaster response and recovery.
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The NY Times had a story yesterday about insurance losses due to the disasters experienced here in the United States to date for 2011 In Wake of Natural Disasters, Insurers Brace for Big Losses
What they didn't mention is the potential for companies to "go under" if they experience too many losses. This will only likely occur if there is a large disaster stemming from an earthquake or hurricane where there is a high value of insured property lost.
One of the disaster myths is that if you don't have insurance then the Federal Government/FEMA will be there for you. There are low interest loans for rebuilding that are administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) but you still need to be found financially eligible and able to repay the loans before you can get the funds. Just as your mother told you, "There are no free lunches."
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Ask any emergency manager, "What did you do today?" and you will likely get an answer about the number of meetings they attended. Meetings have been and will continue to be the bread and butter of emergency management. Sometimes these meetings are for planning in general, project management, training or if you want to call exercises a form of "meeting" a disaster exercise.
The meetings are important because they generate the interpersonal relationships and trust that are so critical to having an effective emergency management program. How then do we manage our relationships with the average citizen? In the past it was via the news media, perhaps a few public meetings and in some cases only by the distribution of disaster preparedness materials. That was the sum total of our connection.
Taking a quote I read this morning and putting a different twist on it, "In the digital era, information about the citizen -- and ultimately, a relationship with the citizen -- is the most important asset an emergency manager can have." Using the technology we have available today we can bypass the media and interact directly with average Joe and Cindy citizen. They can get to know you and you them via the use of social media.
Through frequent and consistent messaging you can achieve an electronic relationship that leads to digital trust. I'm sure of this because of my own interactions with a variety of individuals I've only met digitally. We can speak with a unique voice that reflects our personal and agency values. Instead of being faceless bureaucrats hiding in our offices we can have daily interactions with a variety of people from all walks of life. When disaster does strike we can leverage those electronic relationships to bring more resources to bear in responding to a disaster. We can become "real" to people we have never met!
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Black Swan events are not supposed to be those that you see everyday. The recent tornadoes are not big enough in their impact to be put in the category of Black Swan, unless of course you were directly in their path and now own only rubble.
In the larger sense Black Swan events do call us to respond more holistically as communities. Not just first responders, but as citizens. What types of Black Swan events might be know that are possible, but difficult to predict:
- Mega terrorist attack, nuclear, biological, chemical
- Asteroid hitting earth
- Subduction Fault earthquake on West Coast
- Cyber attack taking down Internet and impacting utilities, business, cascading disaster
- New disease outbreak by unknown virus, e.g. SARS
- Solar flares taking out the communications infrastructure and having other critical infrastructure impacts and cascading disasters
- Mega storms and hurricanes
- Heat waves impacting multiple cities causing electrical outages and many deaths
This list could be much longer!
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If it involves breaking down barriers to coordination, I'm all for it! Interestingly I had not heard of Silver Jackets until just today when I picked up the name and link from a Natural Hazard Mitigation Association email discussion.
Silver Jackets is defined on their web site as: "Effective and continuous collaboration between state and Federal agencies is critical to successfully reducing the risk of flooding and other natural disasters in the United States and enhancing response and recovery efforts when such events do occur. No single agency has all the answers, but often multiple programs can be leveraged to provide a cohesive solution."
As for the term Silver Jackets, there is this explanation: "Traditionally, different agencies wear different colored jackets when responding to emergencies. For example, FEMA personnel wear blue and Corps personnel wear red. The name Silver Jackets is used to underscore the common mission of the diverse agencies involved. Responding team members wear silver jackets to emphasize this unity of purpose." In the military (back when) we called these people and joint efforts "Purple Suiters."
Check the map at the web link above and see if there is an "Active Intergovernmental Flood Risk Management Team" in your state. I would think that these should be people and efforts that you would be interested in.
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Latest Emergency Management News
The recent mudslide in Oso, Wash., showed the power of social media during times of crisis.
When the owner of a small tech firm shared the discovery with utility security officials, the DHS advised power grid operators to upgrade their software.
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.