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January 2012 Archives
January 01, 2012

See the Port of Seattle's job posting for an Emergency Management Training and Exercise Specialist  You will see that this is at the airport which is part of the Port of Seattle.  Evidently this is a second posting of the position.  The first crop of candidates did not pass muster.  


Interestingly, the Port of Seattle eliminated an emergency management job just 13 months ago.  That was a generalist position and was responsible for air and seaport emergency management.


Lastly, since this is my first blog posting of 2012, perhaps this is a good omen for employment prospects in the new year.

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January 01, 2012

Personally I don't think we are living up to the generally held belief that local and state emergency management are on the front lines of being prepared for, responding to and recovering from disasters.  If it was true, then state and local jurisdictions would be shouldering more of the funding for their own programs.  In actuality we have a Federally funded system of emergency management here in the United States.  Without those Federal funds we'd have some pretty small programs in all but the larger cities and states.  


See my video blog below on my thoughts about this Federally Funded Emergency Management System.




You can view more videos at my YouTube Channel

January 02, 2012

Perhaps it is the focus on other things like the NBA returning to play, the Iowa Caucuses and New Year celebrations, but there has been little mainstream media attention being paid to the two major flooding events that have happened recently in the Philippines and Thailand.


See two separate stories that recount the deaths and level of devastation these two countries have suffered.  


See Philippine Flood Toll Rises to 1,249 and Thai Flood Deaths top 800



I saw another news item that called upon the Philippine President to assume the role of Disaster Czar in order to better coordinate the disaster relief efforts.


In one of the links above it mentions that people are not being allowed to return to what is left of their homes because of where they were built in such low lying areas.  Here in the United States we'd be subsidizing the rebuilding of the homes and "suggesting" they get flood insurance.  People living in harms way is one of the major issues we have with disaster deaths and damages.  Everyone thinks it won't happen to them.  




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January 02, 2012

Can you hear it?  Tick, tick, tick, time is passing by.  I've written before about how time is the only non-renewable resource.  Once it is gone there is no going back, except in science fiction.  


Allocating time for all the things that need to be done each day, week, month and year is always a challenge.  There are so many conflicting needs for one's time.  Work, family, volunteer activities, hobbies, sleep, entertainment, external relationships, and don't forget sleep!  I'm always trying to squeeze the last drop of time out of a day.  My only escape from the cares of this world is when I either watch a movie or ride the Harley.  Both activities take me away from the "to dos" of this world.  


So I when I saw the book The 25 Best Time Management Tools & Techniques:  How to Get More Done Withot Driving Yourself Crazy I thought there might be something in those pages for me.  The past few days I've been jumping around in the book going to those sections that caught my eye and are either hot buttons for me or areas that I need to work on in my life.


What I like about the book is that the sections on topics are not long dissertations on the topic.  It is pretty straight forward on each subject, quick and to the point.  The book is billed as a "A no-fluff, easy-to-read compilation of the best advice from the top 20 time management books."


Just a few more thoughts:


  • They have a section on backward planning.  I remember when I started working for Washington State Emergency Management.  That time management technique was not one they were familiar with.  I got blank stares when I brought it up.  It was one that I had used extensively in the military.  If you have a deadline that is not flexible it is a great way to orchestrate everything that needs to be done before that point in time.  If you don't know what it is, try it!
  • Reduce Information Overload was something that got my attention.  Generally, we are overwhelmed with information these days.  Figuring out what to read is a key aspect of information assimilation and doing it quickly.  I use the time on my exercise bike to do much of my professional reading.  At night, if I plan for it, there is another 30 minutes for reading a book.  In between those events it is a constant onslaught of information coming in meetings, emails and websites.  Learning to filter the sources is important.  Scanning text is a great way to cover a great deal of material.  If a word jumps out at you, slow down and be sure you get the context.
  • Remembering the 80-20 rule is important.  You will get 80% of your achievement by 20% of your effort.  Making the 20% of your effort high quality is therefore an important aspect of time management.  One might not be able to avoid mind-numbing meetings if they are required, but you can make the most of the other hours in your life.  
  • Perfection is the enemy of the good.  While we strive for quality, perfection is rarely worth the effort that it takes from the other time in our life.  The section in the book on delegation can help you if you suffer from a perfectionism trait.
  • Measuring results keeps coming up as a topic of late, including in this book.  One of the techniques I use for my staff in setting deadlines is to let them set the due dates.  That gives them the freedom to work towards that end point without the artificial provision of a date--unless of course there are external forces that drive the requirement.  Then, you may be back to backward planning!
  • My hot button topic is Be Punctual.  There is a quote in the book from Dan Kennedy, "People who can't be punctual, can't be trusted."  Hmm, strong language.  I prefer to be early for a meeting and bring along some reading material.  Now with an iPhone or iPad that is not an issue for not having something to do while you wait for others to assemble.  The "waiting for a meeting to start" is also a good time to connect personally with others who did honor the commitment to be on time.  


Good luck with your own time management goals for 2012!


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January 03, 2012

If there is one area of the first responder community that has been challenged most by the technological pace of innovation it has been our nation's 911 systems.  The consumer revolution in communications technology and methods of communicating has been difficult to keep up with.  


See More 911 Call Systems Update to VoIP  This is about how 911 centers are now converting their systems to VoIP.  I remember five years ago when the introduction of VoIP commercial systems was causing havoc with Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP--the other "official name for 911 Center).  As noted in the article indirectly, the location identification was the bugaboo and remains so for different reasons.  Primarily it is the mobile technology that people are using for their primary telephone needs.  In King County we geolocated every address in the county.  That effort will pay big dividends into the future.


Keeping up with the cost of innovation is one of the biggest hurdles that communities have.  For some states and localities there are dedicated state taxes that help fund equipment upgrades, yet the pace of change has made even doing that challenging.  These funds with millions of dollars in them have also made them tempting targets for legislators looking for every penny they can find to help balance the state budget.  


Another item that is mentioned in the article is the development of standards.  PSAPs are sitting back waiting for the standards to be developed and announced.  Meanwhile the "target" being technology keeps moving.  The 911 discipline will need to get faster at developing standards or we will constantly be one generation of technology behind where the consumer is today.  


Lastly, there are the haves and the have nots.  Smaller jurisdictions that log a few 911 calls a day, or even a week, will need to close and consolidate.  While every sheriff may want his own 911 center it is not cost effective and by trying to keep them open with old technology you are limiting the capability of your citizens to get first class service.  The issue with consolidation is often times the personalities of the individuals representing their respective jurisdictions.  These differences of opinion need to be sorted out in order to better serve the public. 


January 03, 2012

Registration has started for the 2012 Earthquake Conference.  Details below.  EERI has their registration site up.   Early Registration ends January 15th.


2012 National Earthquake Conference/2012 EERI Annual Meeting 

As the last of a series of bicentennial events marking the 200th anniversary of the historic series of strong earthquakes that struck the New Madrid seismic zone in late 1811 and early 1812, the 2012 EERI Annual Meeting will be held April 10-14 at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee.

Because of the significance of the anniversary, the Annual Meeting will be held in conjunction with the National Earthquake Conference (NEC) that is organized every four years by the FEMA consortia. The consortia organizations are the Western States Seismic Policy Council (WSSPC), the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC), the Northeast States Emergency Consortium (NESEC), and the Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup (CREW). Several members of the EERI New Madrid Regional Chapter will serve on the local organizing committee.

People who attended the NEC 2008 conference were from the following disciplines: government, emergency management/response, geosciences, risk management, education/research, strategic planning, engineering, policymaking, private for-profit, insurance, and private not for-profit. The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute is a national, nonprofit, technical society of engineers, geoscientists, architects, planners, public officials, and social scientists. EERI members include researchers, practicing professionals, educators, government officials, and building code regulators.

We anticipate more than 600 attendees for this joint conference 

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January 04, 2012

I know that there are those in law enforcement who do not like the term "militarization of law enforcement."  However, as I look at the law enforcement landscape I've seen vast improvements in the weapons, specialized equipment and tactics used by local and state police forces in the last 25 years.  As an infantryman I know military when I see it, and we have militarized our law enforcement in recent years.  Let's be real, the idea of being on the street today with an old style .38 caliber revolver is not appealing when there are potential assailants with military style weaponry waiting to ambush you. 


There is a bit of a controversial story Local police stockpile high-tech, combat ready gear that details some of the types of equipment that has been added to the equipment rooms at police stations across America.  The article questions the terrorism basis for obtaining the equipment.  


There is a case for many law enforcement agencies having these capabilities.  For one, the US citizen has up-armored and it is not unusual for police to encounter well armed individuals with semi-automatic assault weapons that can be legally purchased at almost any gun store.  Put these weapons in the hands of people with mental disabilities, drug influenced or just plain wacko from any number of left or right wing group and you have a potent killing force.  


All the equipment that was purchased with Homeland Security grants had to be justified for terrorism purposes.  In the end, it is much more probable that it is a deranged domestic abuse situation that can be encountered for which this equipment will be needed.


I specifically recall a killer who holed up in a house in Shoreline on a Memorial Day Friday and took on the King County Sheriff's Office.  Nearly killing one deputy and finally was taken out by a single shot fired by a sniper.  The armored car borrowed from the Seattle Police Department was helpful in that situation.


Recently I spoke with a reporter who was writing a story on this very topic and I had asked him if there was any information that the Mexican gangs that have been on a killing rampage in Mexico were operating with significant force and weapons here in the USA?  He did not know of any.  I do  know that these gangs have people present in the United States and I think it is only a matter of time before the violence moves north of the border in a significant fashion (I know there have been isolated incidents already) with full scale shootouts with local police.  


In those situations all the tools of the trade that protect officers are appropriate.  They may look militaristic, but the gear they have is there to protect them and the people they serve.  


January 06, 2012

Perhaps the up-tic in emergency management jobs mirrors the fact that the national unemployment numbers dipped to 8.5% with more positions becoming available.  This is the third position in the last two days.


See the current job opening at the City of Everett, Administrative Coordinator, Emergency Management Planning and Operations  This reads as an Emergency Management Coordinator position.   Don't be thrown off by the "Administrative Coordinator" title.


Unfortunately, when someone is searching for positions the "administrative" word in the title will draw applications from "administrative" types of people who are not qualified for the position.


Barb Graff shared this job posting.

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January 06, 2012

Well, these job openings are coming in a flurry of emails and web postings.  If these announcements come in groups are they a herd, flock, pod or gaggle of jobs?


This one is for an Emergency Management Coordinator in Vancouver (Clark County), WA.  If you are interested in the use of social media in emergency management a plus for this job is working for Cheryl Bledsoe, a real advocate and practitioner in using social media in everything they do.

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