Fire, wind, and water – a lot of water. The year 2018 delivered all in a series of natural disasters that seemed almost continual. Throughout the year, there was a significant risk to lives and property caused by wildfires in the West, hurricanes in the Southeast, and flooding in numerous locales nationwide.
From infectious diseases to terrorist attacks, state and federal agencies must collaborate to provide the most effective responses for large-scale public health events. New types of threats continually emerge, terrorist tactics evolve, and environmental conditions change. Each of these factors contributes to the complexities that emergency preparedness professionals must consider when preparing for, mitigating, or responding to any threat.
Emergency management is an evolving discipline that requires a progressive emergency manager to fulfill new and expanding requirements for success. Successful leaders in this field follow a systematic problem-solving process and excel at coordinating multiple agencies and information sources rather than simply being experts in one subject. The seven and a half traits discussed here describe the ultimate emergency manager.
In each disaster, examples of community resilience emerge: neighbors helping neighbors; volunteers filling response gaps; businesses providing unexpected resources; and first responders going above and beyond their call of duty. Many people have an innate urge to respond to disasters by donating their time and money, giving blood, providing transportation, feeding and clothing survivors, and so on. Imagine a disaster response of the future where that natural instinct to help is harnessed and nurtured by emergency preparedness professionals.
New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) has designed an internship program specifically tailored for high school students. The agency shares its lessons learned to help other agencies understand why such efforts are important, how the program works, and what steps agencies can take to start their own intern programs. Engaging at the high school level helps recruit a valuable yet underutilized resource and promotes overall community resilience.
As a hurricane approaches, a leader must decide whether to issue an order to evacuate or to shelter in place. When creating active shooter plans, school officials must determine what information can and should be shared to mitigate the threat. To mitigate disaster, each community must consider the unique risks and threats that it faces. As emergency preparedness professionals age, they must engage youths to ensure future resilience. This edition of the DomPrep Journal highlights four key force multipliers for promoting public safety: information sharing, crisis leadership, situational awareness, and youth engagement.
A healthy community is a resilient community. From pandemic threats to school shootings, crisis events continue to affect the health and wellbeing of the surrounding human population long after the crisis ends. These health effects can then weaken a community’s ability to cope with future disasters. As such, physical, psychological, environmental, and technological factors all play key roles in determining how well a community prepares for, mitigates, responds to, and recovers from a disaster.
During September 2017, two major Category 5 hurricanes impacted the U.S. Virgin Islands. More than one year later, the scope, scale, and magnitude of Hurricanes Irma and Maria are still being felt. DomPrep Advisor Andrew Roszak recently sat down to conduct a podcast with Chance Lindner of the U.S. Virgin Islands Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to learn more about the state of recovery and how EMS is seeking to deploy a community paramedicine model to better serve the needs of the islands.
In 2014, the United States was directly exposed to the Ebola virus, which was at that time relatively unknown on domestic soil. The nation was underprepared to manage the public relations issues associated with this scenario. Since that time, roundtables have been conducted, responder trainings have been created, and information has been disseminated to better prepare responders and inform the public. However, there is a delicate balance when informing the public of potential threats: provide enough information to mitigate new exposure risks, but do not overhype the threat.
Coordination between the public and private sectors are essential for communicating effectively to the public during emergencies. It is important for government agencies to build relationships with private partners during “blue skies” to ensure that proper plans and messaging are in place in the event of an actual emergency. New York City (NYC) Emergency Management has worked extensively to build a robust network of private partners from various industries that can assist with the dissemination of critical information to the public before, during, and after emergencies. In 2017, NYC Emergency Management conducted a communication drill with private sector partners to test the potential reach of New York City’s emergency messaging.