Mass media can be allies or adversaries to emergency management agencies. The key for these agencies is to ensure that media outlets are sharing accurate public safety and incident-related information from trusted and reliable sources. This means that emergency managers must understand news media objectives and develop mutually beneficial working relationships.
On 15 April 2015, a 61-year-old mailman from Florida breached restricted airspace over the nation's capital and landed a gyrocopter on the West lawn of the U.S. Capitol building. Although this event did not involve explosives or other hazardous materials, the next incident may not be benign. Communication gaps must be closed.
Accessing and sharing information between various agencies and organizations may be challenging, but are necessary for developing effective situational and operational awareness. The National Information Sharing Consortium (NISC) formalized an approach for such interagency communication. By operationalizing these capabilities, NISC creates dialogue and closes communication gaps.
The devastating tornado that destroyed thousands of homes in Joplin, Missouri, in May 2011 is a key example of successful preexisting collaboration and after-action team building among city officials, business and community leaders, and residents. Resilient communities: (a) define and nurture collaborative environments; (b) identify collaborative enablers and barriers; and (c) understand the people and factors behind collaboration efforts.
During a disaster, private sector companies may not have access to valuable public sector resources and information. Some government agencies, though, are building online portals that provide businesses with situational awareness, such as real-time weather forecasts, road closures, and emergency alerts, as well as a chat room to increase public-private collaboration and private sector resilience.
A man runs into an evacuation zone to rescue his dog. A woman refuses to leave her home in the face of danger because she cannot find her cat. A family is turned away from a shelter because they do not want to leave their pets behind. In all of these cases, people are willing to sacrifice themselves and, in some cases, endanger responders for the good of their pets, so related emergency plans must be in place.
With people regularly attending services each week at faith-based organizations around the world, these organizations must have plans in place to provide safe egress of large crowds of attendees from their buildings on a regular basis. Much can be learned from and implemented into such organizations to provide greater community resilience.
Culture profoundly affects human behavior. Disasters also profoundly affect human behavior. From the beginning stages of a crisis situation - planning and preparations through execution of operations - emergency management decision makers from government agencies and private sector organizations must be able to view their jurisdictions through various cultural lenses.
At 8:16 a.m. on 16 September 2013, a shot was fired (the first of many) in Building 197 of the Washington Navy Yard. During the next 69 minutes, while at least 117 officers from eight law enforcement agencies attempt to neutralize the threat, two U.S. Park Police tactical medics and a Navy surgeon triage and treat the wounded.
One responder sits in a classroom listening to an instructor and discussing key concepts and issues with other participants. Another responder sits at a computer during odd hours going through tutorials and posting on discussion groups. Although both types of trainings are effective, the deciding factors between instructor-led, web-based, or a combination of both trainings are personal.