The business of domestic preparedness seems to be a likely priority in 2017, and the relationship between the time value of state and local capabilities and federal disaster relief policies are sure to evolve. For public safety professionals – including police, fire, emergency medical, and emergency management services – the time value of capability is fundamentally the same as the time value of money.
Natural disasters begin locally and may affect one or more communities simultaneously. However, a community approach to preparedness and resilience – with local government officials identifying the different natural disasters that make their communities vulnerable – can greatly influence response and sustainability efforts to counteract potential challenges. To achieve effective resilience, preparedness should be systematic.
A sturdy boat and a knowledgeable crew increase the odds for a safe voyage. To build a sailboat with a strong, sturdy foundation, the keel is laid and the hull is made to balance and support the entire boat while at sea. Similarly, community preparedness also needs a strong foundation on which to build.
Responding to disasters is a critical function for first responders and the emergency management community. Rotary and fixed-winged aircraft have traditionally performed disaster response missions, such as overhead damage assessments, reconnaissance, and missing person searches. However, with the advancement of unmanned aircraft systems, there is an opportunity to perform conventional aerial missions in a safer, expeditious, and cost-effective manner.
As the dust from the recent election settles, one of the first orders of business for the incoming Trump administration is a massive public infrastructure investment plan. Although the economic benefits associated with improved infrastructure are popular with many citizens and both sides of the political aisle, the real-world practicalities of ensuring positive economic return from such investments are nonetheless daunting.
The aviation system remains a prime target for terrorists. The traveling public, airlines, and airports grew impatient in the face of long security lines. As a result, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was often in the news, until its leaders undertook a systematic process of transformation to both enhance security and minimize inconvenience for the traveling public.
Preparedness and response organizations have realized many benefits from adopting the Incident Command System (ICS) and similar formal management structures. Performance, however, depends on how people behave as humans within that system – particularly in stressful, fast-moving environments. Integrating behavioral training into ICS training may help improve performance and outcomes.
Various drills and exercises highlight efforts to protect communities against various types of attacks involving transportation, buildings, historic sites, sporting events, and so on. Attacks and hostage-taking incidents around the world expose vulnerabilities that need to be assessed in all communities to determine: what they need to drill, who they need to train, and how they will collaborate across jurisdictions.
The phrase “It’s not if, but when” may distort how certain organizations perceive emergency preparedness, especially in cases such as active shooter threats. This common expression leads to inaccurate threat perceptions and can result in leaders becoming complacent. Emergency managers should be aware of this potential odd pairing of a sense of inevitability with complacency, and be prepared to counter it.
Current approaches for ensuring public safety rely on expensive and obtrusive equipment and procedures having limited availability and inadequate performance. Newly emerging wearable sensors have the potential to spark a fundamental change in this equation. Researchers at George Mason University are investigating a new concept called “Bring Your Own Protection” (BYOP).