Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter

Volume 12 No. 3                                                                        March 2020

In This Issue
Exploring Emergency Management & Homeland Security
Bernstein Crisis Management
Blog Highlights
Featured Article
Professional Development
From the Bookshelf
Speaker's Corner
Exploring Emergency Management & Homeland Security
Responding To Coronavirus & A Second Major Event 
by Timothy (Tim) Riecker

Springtime is practically upon us. Trees are budding, asparagus is growing (yes, I mentioned asparagus), birds are chirping, and snow is melting. And it's raining. Some people call it spring, others call it the first flood season of the year. Flooding isn't the only hazard we face right now. It's still early enough for the threat of snow and ice storms, and we've already seen tornado activity in the US. Oh, and by the way, we're dealing with a pandemic. EDIT: In the midst of writing this post and also exchanging emails re Coronavirus with a client in Utah, he exclaimed in one of his responses that a 5.7 earthquake had just struck with an epicenter just outside Salt Lake City. As one of my old bosses used to say, you can't make this stuff up. 
So often we are used to dealing with one disaster at a time. Yes, sometimes we get hit with a one-two punch, or other times the same incident, such as a hurricane, persists, but these are typically localized, not a nation-wide concern, much less global. When our resources are already strained from dealing with Coronavirus, it can be a challenge to respond to another significant incident, especially when there is little mutual aid to be had. I often think back to an example I use back from my days in EMS, and that's the multi-trauma patient. Most EMS instructors, following the standard curriculum, will teach you how to treat lacerations, fractures, burns, and the like. But rarely do we learn about how to deal with those things when they all happen at once. I remember back when I was a young pup EMT, my first multi-trauma patient was a victim of a motor vehicle accident (as it probably was for most EMTs). I recall having a brief moment of panic because that's not what we were taught to handle. My brain quickly reset, and I went back to my ABCs, assessing and stabilizing the patient in priority order. 
Another personal example I have is the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 on November 12, 2001 - two months and one day after 9/11. The plane crashed in Queens borough of New York City as the result of a critical structural failure. 260 souls on board, plus 5 on the ground died. This occurred in the midst of the response to one of the most impactful disasters in US history. In a way we 'lucked out' that the incident occurred in New York City. On a normal day, the City of New York can leverage more resources in a response than some US states and even nations. November 2001 was anything but 'normal' with a massive amount of additional resources still rotating into the City to support 9/11 activities. While at this point, two months following 9/11, things were reasonably stable in and around ground zero, the crash of Flight 587 still required a significant change in operations. From my recollection, in the State EOC in Albany, we actually split some of our staff for a brief period of time (within the same chain of command), with some staying focused on 9/11 activity while others were focused on the crash. We didn't create a new organization, but there were people in Operations and Planning committed specifically to monitoring and supporting the new incident. Like a Venn diagram, there were some different needs in the initial response with some overlapping needs between the two incidents. As the two circles moved closer together, creating more overlap, we re-integrated our staff to track and support both incidents collectively. I recall the reintegration occurring after only a few operational periods.



© 2019 -  Timothy Riecker

Tim Reicker is a founding member, partner and principal consultant with Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC, a private consulting firm serving government, businesses, and not for profit organizations in various aspects of emergency and disaster preparedness.

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Bernstein Crisis Management
Southwest's COVID-19 Crisis Communications And What You Need To Be Doing
by Erik Bernstein

Right now our Bernstein Crisis Management team is working with clients across the country to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 concerns impacting both operations and customer trust. One of the most widespread fears is that of using public transportation, particularly air travel, which is why we thought Southwest Airlines engaging in a crisis communications campaign to highlight improved measures meant to keep surfaces sanitary was a great example for others to follow. First, Southwest sent the an email to its entire customer mailing list.
This is a great start, but there's only so much you can say or show in an email, right? The Southwest crisis management team was no doubt aware of this, and by clicking on the link in the email you arrived at the official Southwest blog, where anyone with fears could see an in-depth explanation of the 6+ hour cleaning process, high def images, and even video of the enhanced cleaning measures at work:
With a brand as big as Southwest and the media hungry for any news related to COVID-19, the story was quickly picked up by mainstream news outlets, giving the brand's communication even greater reach. This is smart, modern crisis management at work.
While there's not much any one business can do to make the virus go away (unless you're in biotech perhaps!) it's important to consider how you'll need to alter operations, and how you'll communicate with your own customers and employees, if concerns about this coronavirus continue to climb. Think to yourself - or better yet have a group exercise with your executive team - and consider questions like these:
  • How will concerns over things like public spaces impact us?
  • Will customers feel comfortable walking in to do business?
  • How do we let staff, customers, and business partners know we're safe?
  • What policies need to change ASAP to adapt to the situation?
  • Are we doing what we can do prevent customer-staff or staff-staff transmission?
  • How do we continue operations if a large portion of our workforce can't physically come to work?
  • What is our criteria for more serious measures like travel bans or even temporarily closing storefronts?
The bottom line is this - if you haven't given serious discussion time to these types of questions you're behind the curve already. Now is not the time to engage in, "It won't happen to us" thinking. Get proactive, engage in the crisis management process, and prepare your business for impact.



© 2019 - Erik Bernstein

Erik Bernstein is Vice President of Bernstein Crisis Management, a specialized firm dedicated to providing holistic strategies for managing crisis situations.

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Featured Video
What Actually Happens If You Get Coronavirus?
What Actually Happens If You Get Coronavirus?
This short animated video provides a clear explanation in simple terms of how the coronavirus infects the human body. With so much bad information floating around the internet, most people do not understand why the disease is so infectious, why we see the symptoms we do, and why it affects different people in different ways.
Blog Highlights
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Canton on Emergency Management. Please visit my blog to see the rest of my articles.  
Social media is often pilloried as a source of misinformation and fear. But it can also offer tools to bring people together in these times of social distancing.
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The following are excerpts from my blog, Managing Crisis, published by Emergency Management Magazine. Please visit my blog to see the rest of my articles.


Crisis management is a strategic function that is usually the province of senior leaders. But the skill set emergency managers offer can add value to an organization's crisis response.

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L. Canton Photo 2013  

Welcome to the March edition of  E mergency Management Solutions .
There's an old Chinese curse, probably apocryphal, that says, "May you live in interesting times." That's certainly the case now with COVID-19 cases increasing daily. While some of my friends are working around the clock, others are getting cabin fever from being home bound. The decisions by elected leaders to shelter in place was not an easy one to make but it was the right one. This too shall pass.
This month, my colleague, Tim Riecker, addresses a question that's been in the news lately: how do you deal with a second disaster in the midst of a pandemic? Some communities, such as Arkansas, are already facing this crisis. Erik Bernstein use a case study from Southwest Airlines to highlight key questions organizations should be asking as part of their pandemic planning. My own contribution is a look at two case studies that reinforce the need to look beyond the pandemic to its potential impact on society.

Be well!

Lucien Canton   
Featured Article

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It's Not Too Soon to Look to The Future

Thinking Ahead Can Open Opportunities

There's an old saying that when you're up to your ass in alligators, it's hard to remember that your original intention was to drain the swamp. This is also true when dealing with a crisis. The immediate demands of the crisis often prevent recognizing that the goal is to return the organization to something resembling normalcy.
The problem is two-fold. The first problem is recognizing that "returning to normalcy" is a pipe dream. Crisis changes us and our environment and we can rarely go back to where we were. In Managing for Long-Term Community Recovery in the Aftermath of Disaster , researchers Daniel Alesch, Lucy Arendt, and James Holly demonstrate how crisis creates ripple effects both internal and external to the community. They also give numerous examples of how disasters can create significant sociological changes in economics, culture, and demographics.
The second problem is that when you're faced with immediate life-threatening issues, the "long-term" recovery window narrows to days and weeks rather than months and years and forecasting future trends and impacts is seldom a priority.
However, emergency management is not solely about response and emergency managers are one of the few professions that demand a broad view of crisis. Simple put, if we don't serve as a catalyst for future planning, who will?
This is the position in which we find ourselves with the COVID-19 crisis. At the time of this writing, the number of reported cases is increasing and those of us with a sense of history suspect that the worst is still to come. We really don't know what will happen, but it's not to early to think about what changes this crisis may bring and how we can position our organizations to take advantage of them. Here are two examples of areas of potential change.

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Professional Development

COVID-19 Resources Page
The Natural Hazards Center has developed a Coronavirus and COVID-19 Information page containing links to selected news articles, related research, and resources that include toolkits, guides, information collections, and specialized response information. The site includes links to global, federal, and state sites and serves as a single stop for a wide variety of resources. The site can be accessed at  https://hazards.colorado.edu/resources/covid-19

PrepTalk Released: Dr. Howard Kunreuther' s "Human Biases: Why People Underprepare for Disasters"
FEMA and its emergency management partners have released Dr. Howard Kunreuther's €œHuman Biases: Why People Underprepare for Disasters. In his PrepTalk, Dr. Kunreuther discusses the processes and biases in decision-making under uncertainty. He also proposes a behavioral risk audit that couple's protective decision-making with economic incentives, enabling individual and collective actions to achieve greater resilience.
Dr. Kunreuther is Professor Emeritus of Decision Sciences and Public Policy in the Operations, Information and Decisions Department, and Co-Director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Kunreuther has a long-standing interest in ways that society can better manage low-probability, high-consequence events related to technological and natural hazards.


Professional Development Opportunities

June 1-4, 2020
Emmitsburg, MD
The 2020 symposium theme is "Imagination, Improvisation, and Innovation in Emergency Management Education."

International Association of Emergency Managers Annual Conference
Nov. 13-18, 2020
Long Beach, California
The goal of the IAEM Annual Conference is to improve knowledge, competency level and collaborative skills. IAEM accomplishes this by attracting relevant high-profile speakers to address current topics and practical solutions.

From the Bookshelf
Landeman's Public Health Management of Disasters: The Practice Guide
By Linda Young Landesman & Rita V. Burke

One of the potential long-term effects of the current COVID-19 pandemic is the recognition that emergency managers need better working relationships with public health departments beyond terrorism response. This requires an understanding of the both the potential public health impacts of a disaster, public health response, and how we can best coordinate our activities.
Landesman's Public Health Management of Disasters: The Practice Guide  is the only comprehensive work regarding Public Health's roles and responsibility in relation to the structure, organization and function of health management in emergency management and disaster prevention, preparedness, response, recovery and reconstruction.
Because of the wide range of topics covered, the book is by nature a very broad overview but serves as a good introduction to the role of public health in disasters. There is a chapter on emerging infections and biological incidents but the book does not specifically address pandemic response (at least in my outdated edition). 


Emergency Management: Concepts and Strategies for Effective Programs
Second Edition
by Lucien G. Canton

This book looks at the larger context within which emergency management response occurs, and stresses the development of a program to address a wide range of issues. Not limited to traditional emergency response to natural disasters, it addresses a conceptual model capable of integrating multiple disciplines and dealing with unexpected emergencies.

Save 20%!

By special arrangement with my publisher, readers of Emergency Management Solutions can save 20% when ordering directly from Wiley.com. Just click on the image to the right to be taken directly to the order page and enter the code  VBR13 at check out to get your discount.
Speaker's Corner

Need a speaker for your next conference? I offer keynotes, seminars and workshops.
Why Should You Choose Me As Your Speaker?
Three Reasons Why I'm the Right Speaker for Your Conference 
You can find more details and sample videos on my website or on my SpeakerMatch page.   
Speaking Engagements 

Live Webinar: Friday, April 10, 2020
2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern / 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Pacific

©Lucien G. Canton 2020. All rights reserved.


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ISSN: 2334-590X