“Are we prepared?” is a simple question with a not-so-simple answer. There are generally two times this question arises: (1) when funding is being requested, and (2) after an incident occurs where the preparedness comes under review. Both timings are appropriate, but arguably not the best time to raise the question. The best time to ask this question is that “sweet spot” between a request for funding and an actual need arises. However, this ideal time is frequently missed or avoided. Some would say it is human nature to avoid tough questions unless forced to face them; other times, it is because of the preparedness issue conflicting with other priorities that comprise the agendas of most agencies, governments, and private sector managers.
Emergency management is everything to everybody, but it often lacks the glue that is so desperately needed to manage catastrophic events. This is likely the result of two common pitfalls that the profession has long suffered from, pitfalls that can begin as soon as one walks out of the meeting or training room door: apathy and atrophy. Apathy can be defined as a lack of interest, passion, excitement, or concern. When not effectively addressed, apathy can then lead to atrophy, a long gradual decline in effectiveness. Such weakening is caused by underuse of key knowledge, skills, and abilities.
With recent urgent stories about the coronavirus, it seemed to be just a matter of time for the nation to revert to hysteria. Instead of a calm, resolute culture of preparedness, there has been a “PowerGlide” of public sentiment. In the 1960s, many Chevrolet automobiles had a PowerGlide transmission with just two gears: low gear and high gear. Similarly, in the past eight years, society has had two collective mental gears: complacency and hysteria.
The National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. has an inscription on the Northeast corner that reads, “What is past is Prologue.” This simple but profound advice may easily be the emergency manager’s most calming guidance. The journey starts right now.
Although a long-term, widespread power outage may not be a top priority in community preparedness plans, many communities have considered the devastating effects of such a scenario. A long-term power outage, for the purpose of this article, is defined as one that lasts from the time regular and emergency resources are depleted to a year – or even longer. The cause of the power outage could be any of the following: an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from any source, a cascading event after a smaller area is affected by some type of power system intrusion or attack, or any other threat or hazard that could cause a power outage.
Many families depend on child care providers to care for their children so parents can work and go to school. The National Survey of Early Care and Education estimates that 118,000 listed providers care for more than 750,000 children between birth and 5 years of age in home-based settings. Home-based child care, also referred to as family child care, is care provided in a home setting for a smaller group of children (usually under 12 children). Parents often choose family child care because of the appeal of a home-like environment, smaller group sizes, and greater opportunity for flexible hours. Listed child care means they appear on state or national lists of early care and education services, such as licensed, regulated, license-exempt, or registered home-based providers.
On 21 October 2019, the French anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office announced that the investigation into the 2015 terror attacks in Paris, France, had concluded. It took French authorities four years to complete the investigation. The attacks targeted outdoor cafes, a stadium, and a concert hall – resulting in 130 deaths and another 352 injured. The investigation revealed that a larger jihadist cell was behind the complex coordinated terrorist attacks (CCTA), reaching across Europe but particularly Belgium, which was later also targeted by the cell. The result of the French investigation has led to the indictments of at least 20 suspects and the discovery of many lessons learned.
As the discipline has evolved, data and quantitative analytics are becoming a bigger part of emergency management. This trend is likely to continue as technology and data become more available. Current and future emergency managers need to understand data and how it can be used to support all phases of emergency management.
There is a growing industry of “realistic active shooter” drills. Many are focused on teaching participants how to “survive” an event. These drills involve imitation attacks, physical confrontations, fake weapons, and simulated deaths. Some of these drills have led to actual shootings, people being locked in closets or storage rooms, and deployment of tactical squads who were not pre-briefed or included on the drill. These drills do not promote resilience.
Guidance for developing an integrated, coordinated, and synchronized emergency operations plan (EOP) is provided in Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 101 (CPG 101). Although many emergency managers consider the EOP the foundation of emergency and disaster plans, CPG 101 acknowledges that it is not the only plan that supports emergency management within a jurisdiction.