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February 2013 Archives
February 01, 2013

Hardly a week goes by without someone emailing me or chatting me up about a career in emergency management.  The one below does seem to "take the cake" on what a person must do to become an emergency manager.


The following was shared by Hilary Styron


"So this is my laugh of the day...my client just asked me how to become an emergency manager, he wanted to know if there was a one day course he could take so he would then, after one day, be qualified to call himself an EM.....I'm trying very hard not to spit my soda through my nose while laughing.....I can't make this stuff up."


In reality what the above means is that we have a perception problem--in the extreme, for this one case.  However, if you are a firefighter, law enforcement officer, former military person you, in your heart of hearts as you look at emergency managers you are saying, "I can do that!"  As I've said before, emergency management is not rocket science, but one of the problems we have in our profession is that there isn't enough academic background on the subject of emergency management in our profession.  


We need to use what social and physical science has learned about how people react to hazards and process risks to them and their families.  To a large degree we keep going about our merry way without knowing and applying what science already knows.  


I figure that if someone would just put their back into it -- it should not take more than a week to assimilate all that knowledge.  Smile

February 02, 2013

“I can explain it to you, but I can’t comprehend it for you.”  Ed Koch  With the passing of Ed Koch earlier this week it is appropriate to remember one of his quotes.


It is true that we need to work at speaking and writing as clearly as possible when trying to communicate with others.  I’ve found this to be the most difficult when you are crossing cultures and the paradigms are different.


I’m not so sure that Ed Koch was talking about cross culture communications, more so—What’s the matter with your hearing! [Not so much as a question, but as a statement.] What don’t you understand about what I’m saying?  As only a New Yorker could of course say it.  


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February 03, 2013

The Super Bowl is not so "Super" right now due to an electrical problem at the stadium in New Orleans.  Half the lights are out and the most important person in the stadium at this moment is not the NFL Commissioner, but the electrical engineer for the stadium.  Having plans in place for responding to "unusual" occurrences is normal, having the lights fail in the biggest football game of the year is not.


I'm sure that there will be an investigation about what caused the lights to go out, I know for certain it wasn't a squirrel getting into a transformer in this situation.  Might it be old infrastructure that hasn't been maintained?  Was there a known issue that was dismissed because it would cost too much to fix or the possibility of a failure was very remote?  Those are the money making decisions that many an organization makes, betting that the nothing will happen.


People talk about planning for worst case scenarios, and this isn't that--after all, not all the lights are out, but it is stopping play.  In the end this event could influence the outcome of the game.  Will it let the San Francisco 49's get back into it?  Time will tell.        















February 04, 2013

I was digging through some old copies of Emergency Management Magazine and ran across an article on social media in the July-August Edition  You will have to dig for it since there are no individual links to articles (page 40-41).  I don't think I've blogged on it.


There is a list of ten steps for succeeding with social media.  I think these are a good place to start if you are just doing that "starting" or if you have done a little and want to check to see if you are "on course" the list might help with that too.  See below:


  1. Establish goals and create a plan to achieve them.
  2. Create policies to protect your organization and employees.
  3. Develop a calendar and strategy for social media content.
  4. Develop accounts for your organization to support.
  5. Develop a social media "voice" that is genuine and respectful.
  6. Establish workflows including triaging and crisis response.
  7. Identify emergency staffing to support social media messaging during an emergency.
  8. Train your staff an prepared your administration.
  9. Ask for guidance from other professionals.
  10. Review and repeat steps one through nine on an annual basis.
I'll only comment on one of the above, that being number five.  Many organizations still treat social media like it was a news release.  The writing is stilted and formal.  Social media provides the opportunity for a conversation and if you can imagine one side "giving a speech" and the other "talking" you might understand how communications might suffer.  Each person participating in social media will have a slightly different voice because of our personalities and writing styles.  Don't be afraid of the variety and variation that comes from different people doing the writing.  Keep it respectful and informative and it will all be OK.

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February 04, 2013

We emergency managers can be a very United States centric thinking profession.  And, while the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) has had that title for quite some time we still have a habit of thinking USA when it comes to disasters and all things emergency management.


So, I found it refreshing to read the news release below.  Good job International-AEM!


International Institute of Global Resilience and IAEM Partner to Improve Emergency Management in Japan
WASHINGTON – February 4, 2013 – The International Institute of Global Resilience (IIGR), a think tank dedicated to improving the readiness of the emergency management community through research and education, today announced a partnership with the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), the premier international organization of emergency management professionals. As a part of the partnership, IIGR will increase the membership of and facilitate events for the IAEM Japan chapter.

“Emergency management is a critical area for Japan, as seen by recent disasters like the tsunami in March 2011 and the earthquake near Fukushima this past December,” said Dr. Fukami, President of IIGR and one of Japan’s leading emergency management scientists. “We feel privileged to join forces with a globally recognized organization, IAEM, to build a community focused on improving Japan’s disaster response.”

IIGR will lead the development and recruitment for the IAEM Japan chapter. Together, IIGR and IAEM will bridge international efforts to improve resilience through lessons learned from disasters across the globe. The Japan chapter will meet to share best practices and publish reports that will be available to the emergency management community at large.

“With thousands of members across the globe, we recognize the importance of communities uniting to address the specific emergency management needs of their regions,” said Elizabeth B. Armstrong, CEO of IAEM. “IIGR has a strong connection to the global Japanese community, and we are confident their leadership can bring visibility to the important emergency management issues in Japan.”

IIGR is a part of the S&R Foundation, a non-profit that supports talented individuals in the arts and sciences. To learn about IIGR, please visit www.AboutIIGR.org.

About the S&R Foundation
The S&R Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created in 2000 to support talented individuals with great potential and high aspirations in the sciences and arts, especially those who are furthering international cultural collaboration. Our goals are simple, yet bold: create, support and facilitate initiatives that encourage scientific and artistic innovation, and promote cultural and personal growth. For more information, visit www.SandRFoundation.org.

About IIGR
Founded in 2012, the International Institute of Global Resilience (IIGR) is a think tank dedicated to improving and enhancing the readiness and professionalism of the emergency management community through education and research. IIGR's mission is to explore the ongoing need for global resilience and its effect on the world's economy and security. IIGR is a part of the S&R Foundation. For more information, visit www.AboutIIGR.org.

About IAEM
IAEM-USA, the nation’s largest emergency management professional association, is a non-profit professional organization representing more than 5,000 emergency management and homeland security professionals for local communities, state and federal disaster officials, private sector, non-governmental organizations and others involved in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from all types of disasters including acts of terrorism. IAEM provides: access to the largest network of emergency management experts who can provide advice and assistance; the Certified Emergency Manager® program; annual scholarships; a comprehensive monthly newsletter; and more.

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February 04, 2013

I remember when all the phone books had disaster information in them as part of their community service.  Phone books are slowly disappearing in the Northwest as people move to getting all their information via a digital search.


I found it interesting that a Google search on "Emergency Management" turned up Best Resources for Emergency Preparedness in Seattle



I'm wondering if CBS is doing the same for other cities in their vast network of stations?  As for me, I'll take the help wherever I can get it!

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February 04, 2013

Another Think Tank Call is scheduled for later this week.  Information on how to dial in is below.  I read the Lessons from Sandy:  A Word on Innovation  At first the word "innovation" and their examples given didn't ring a bell with me.  So, I looked up the definition of "innovation" and got the following:


Innovation is the development of new customers value through solutions that meet new needs, inarticulate needs, or old customer and market needs in value adding new ways.This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments, and society. Innovation differs from invention in that innovation refers to the use of a better and, as a result, novel idea or method, whereas invention refers more directly to the creation of the idea or method itself. Innovation differs from improvement in that innovation refers to the notion of doing something different (Lat. innovare: "to change") rather than doing the same thing better.


OK, alright--I guess I was thinking more "invention" as something totally new versus adaptation.  It feels a bit more like people were being proactive with the resources at hand.  Maybe it takes a group of outside people to do what they did--but, what does that say about the rest of FEMA staff?


The next FEMA Think Tank Conference Call is scheduled for Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 12:00 PM EST. The theme for the discussion is innovative solutions in emergency management.

WHAT:                      FEMA Think Tank

WHO:                        Richard Serino, FEMA Deputy Administrator

WHEN:                      Wednesday, February 6, 2013    12:00PM – 1:30PM (Eastern)

CALL IN:                   888-324-6998


CAPTIONING:         http://fedrcc.us//Enter.aspx?EventID=2090240&CustomerID=321

After Hurricane Sandy, FEMA developed an Innovation Team in New York: a multi-sector, cross functional group made up of people in government, non-profit and international organizations, volunteer groups, businesses, and concerned citizens. For more information about the Innovation Team’s efforts, please visit http://www.fema.gov/blog/2013-01-15/lessons-sandy-word-innovation.

Document Link: http://www.fema.gov/fema-think-tank

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February 04, 2013

If I had a magic lantern and had three wishes my first one might sound like an old Coke commercial about how the world can all get along and sing.  


As for emergency managers, we might not be the best choir, but we can do our part to get in tune with others by just inviting them to the table and also getting out of our offices and going to visit a few people.  We don't have all the answers and with less funding in the pipeline we don't have all the money either.


All the above is part and parcel of my January-February Emergency Management Magazine's Eric's Corner It’s Time to Dump Government-Centric Thinking (Opinion)

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February 05, 2013

Ever since the words adaptation and resiliency became popularized a number of years ago I've always pondered the differences between the two.  This is similar to figuring out the differences between protection and mitigation.


Yesterday I read a great piece in the NY Times, see Learning to Bounce Back


This is an Op-ed that does a nice job of advocating for resiliency in our infrastructure and in our people.  If the strength of our nation is in our people then there is a need for psychological and physiological resilience if we are to recover quickly from disasters.   


Interestingly I had not read previously about a group of people pushing back on "adaptation" as a strategy.  This is because they see it as surrendering to the inevitable and not dealing with the causes of climate change.  Emergency managers rarely dip our toes in the global warming pool of thought and action.  Instead we are dealing with the results, the consequences as we call it, of the warming planet.  Mitigation, adaptation and resiliency (MAR) are what we need to be about.  We can support the efforts of others, but our bread and butter is MAR and it is what we need to be about.


Perhaps one sentence from the article has a great summary of the three, "Combating those kinds of disruptions isn’t just about building higher walls [mitigation] — it’s about accommodating the waves [adaptation]."  Which then leads to resiliency!






Alessandra Jerolleman shared the link to the Op-ed.



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February 05, 2013

Sometimes I need to remind myself that people just graduating from college may in many cases never interviewed for a job.  In fact, many Gen Y age men and women never worked when they were in school; not even summer employment.  


With that in mind, even basic tips might be helpful to someone going to an interview for the first time.  These are really basic:


  • Empty your pockets
  • Put of the mirror
  • Negotiate later


The one item I'll disagree with is not taking the interviewer up on something to drink.  You can get cotton mouth in a heartbeat and water is fine.  If offered--take it.


You can get the basic information in this video:  3 Tips for Interviewing Like a Boss  What I like about it is the visual aspect (albeit at 1.5 to make the presentation keep up with the speaker).  It provides another way to communicate the message and perhaps make it more "sticky" by having the visual which will appeal to -- visual learners.  


Trust me there is a great deal more to interviewing techniques, but this is a starting place.



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