Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
Volume 12 No.12
December 2020
L. Canton Photo 2013

Welcome to the December edition of Emergency Management Solutions.

It's no coincidence that so many of the world's religions hold festivals around the time of the winter solstice. We can trace solstice celebrations back at least as far a the Neolithic period. But why celebrate the beginning of winter, when food will be scarce and times hard? It's because the solstice heralds the return of the sun and carries within it the promise of the renewal of spring.

In this time of COVID-19, we as emergency managers understand all too well that the hardest time still lies ahead of us. Here in California, we are already maxed on intensive care beds and our number of infected patients continues to increase. But like the promise of spring carried in the solstice, there is hope: new vaccines are being distributed and we have the promise of a cohesive national response policy in the near future. This too shall pass.

This month, Tim Riecker offers some thoughts the new EOC toolkit just released by FEMA while Erik Bernstein takes a look at what we might expect in 2021. My own contribution is somewhat different this month; I share some thoughts on the current controversy over national monuments.

May the new year bring you joy and prosperity!

Be well!
Lucien Canton
Featured Articles
Canton On Emergency Management
No More Heroes?
By Lucien G. Canton

Some years ago, I opened a presentation on disaster mythology with a brief discussion on the power of myth. My example was the influence of the myth of the heroic death of the French knight Roland on the development of the concept of chivalry and how that influence far outweighed the reality of his death. The myth is still remembered and retold, while only historians can recall the true facts behind his death.

This contrast between myth and reality is not unusual and many of those we celebrate as heroes may not truly deserve the title. The focus on racial justice over the past year has led to an increased questioning of this dichotomy and a reassessment of many of our most deeply held beliefs.

As someone with a deep interest in history, I do not think this is a bad thing. In many cases, the facts are even more remarkable than the myth because those involved are shown to be ordinary people who overcame difficult challenges. In other cases, the myths are misplaced and should be debunked. However, I do think that in some ways we are rushing to judgement and run the risk of creating a society with no more heroes.
Exploring Emergency Management and Homeland Security
EOC Toolkit: National Comment Period
By Timothy "Tim" Riecker

FEMA’s National Integration Center distributed notice of a national engagement period on two new Emergency Operations Center (EOC) related documents: EOC References and Resources Tool and the EOC How-To Quick Reference Guide. This seems to be the initiation of an EOC Toolkit, which I conceptually think is a great idea. My first impression of these documents is that they both have good information and are logically organized. The documents are good, but I’m also not particularly impressed by them.

First up is the EOC References and Resources Tool. The document indicates that the audience is ‘EOC leaders and staff’, and the intent is to provide them with ‘a set of best practices, checklists, references, links, and essential guidance related to EOC operations and administration’. This is a two-page document, seemingly formatted for printing (It’s a PDF), but mostly useless in print form as it has an abundance of internet links to sites and documents which provide much more information. The document itself isn’t really a ‘tool’, per se. It doesn’t have, on its own, any intrinsic utility other than referring you to other sources of information. While the description indicates that this document has checklists, it does not, though several of the documents linked from this document do have checklists. The center of the first page provides a link to the EOC Toolkit website, but it’s not particularly highlighted. To be honest, I think this document should, in essence, be the format and content of the EOC Toolkit site.

The second document is the EOC How-To Quick Reference Guide. This is an 80 page document. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything labeled a ‘quick reference guide’ be that long. If anything, the EOC References and Resources Tool document (discussed previous) is really the ‘quick reference guide’, while this document is more of a ‘tool’. There is solid information in this document, nothing that from a quick review I have any quarrel with. The content areas are fairly comprehensive, giving information on hazard, vulnerability, and capability assessment; EOC site selection; EOC capabilities and physical design; information management; and preparedness. That said, it doesn’t give you much content within any of the topic areas. It almost feels like a literature review.

As with the other document, this document is formatted for printing, but is full of hyperlinks to sites that expand greatly on the information provided. So it’s not really anything I would recommend printing and putting in a binder. Electronically, it does make it a good compendium of resources, but with how rapidly things change and the frequency of new sources of good information becoming available, I think this document is also best organized as a website that can be updated in real time as new information comes available. As soon as one link changes, the document becomes obsolete. That said, the resources they link to are all good and worthwhile. An attachment to this document provides a fairly comprehensive EOC self-assessment tool; though the tool doesn’t really address partially or fully virtual EOC operations and remote access; and while it goes to an extent of detail asking about certain things (such as a helicopter landing pad), it completely misses some functional things...
© 2020 -  Timothy Riecker, CEDP

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.
Bernstein Crisis Management

Crisis Preparedness and Response Is About To Get Tougher
By Erik Bernstein

And you thought 2020 was bad already…

Never in our almost 40 years of crisis management experience have we seen an America more prone to erupt in new crises than right now. No one likes to look at hard truths, yet part of our job as crisis management professionals, and that of those in related fields such as risk management, is to look for trouble before it occurs and, if we can, help our employers or clients head it off. If we can’t, take advance steps to mitigate the damage. In that spirit, the following may make you wince – and it may save you a whole lot of stress and financial woe.
Take a look at this list of the types of crises that could routinely affect just one of the industries with which we’ve done a lot of work, followed by my comments as to why the chances of each type of crisis have been exacerbated at this time in our nation’s history. Even though this list was created as part of our planning for food industry clients, we’re sure you’ll see how much of the same applies to your own organization – regardless of industry. It’s pretty common sense, and though it may be painful to consider what could go wrong, if you do think ahead you’ll be able to do more to mitigate the threat.
The following are crises that could impact food industry businesses, with the notes in italics highlighting how the risk of such crises increases as a result of stressors ranging from Covid-19 to natural disasters to massive social unrest about various topics to unemployment and, of course, unprecedented political divides:

  • Accidents resulting in injury or deathon-site or off-site. Stress is already a factor in workplace accidents, and stress is up exponentially.
  • ActivismInternet or on-site. Intense emotions on all sides of current issues are likely to produce a far higher level of activism, with the worst of it spilling over into violence. People are feeling out of control in so many areas of their life that, when they see a chance to make a difference through activism, they’re much more likely to take it now than, say, the same time a year ago. Differences on issues could also spill over into the workplace. Various stakeholders could demand your organization take a stand on issues, leading to very public criticism. Activism groups and tactics are likely to intersect with quite a few areas of potential crises, as you’ll see below.
  • Criminal behavior (non-violent) by employees. Under severe enough psychological and financial pressure, previously honest employees get more desperate. If checks and balances aren’t tight enough, crimes will take place.
  • Criminal behavior (violent) by employees. Do you have employees whose temperament is already a bit iffy? It’s going to get worse under current stressors. HR needs to monitor particularly closely during these extremely challenging times.
© 2020 - Erik Bernstein

Erik Bernstein is Vice President of Bernstein Crisis Management, a specialized firm dedicated to providing holistic strategies for managing crisis situations.
Featured Video
The Impact of Disasters on Wealth Inequality in the U.S.

Dr. Junia Howell is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh who specializes in Race and Urban Sociology. In this eye-opening video, first presented at the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA)’s 2020 Emergency Management Policy and Leadership Forum, she shares some of her findings on how disasters and FEMA aid are exacerbating wealth inequality among disaster victims. She identifies three main causes for this inequality: the historical development of housing assessments, bureaucratic process, and the multiple agencies involved in relief. While emergency managers may not be able to directly affect some of these issues, we should be aware of them and seek to influence changes to local and national policy whenever possible. Dr. Howell's website includes a number of her papers on this issue and other resources and is well worth a visit.
Professional Development
FEMA Offers Comment Period on Two Emergency Operations Center Toolkit Documents
FEMA’s National Integration Center is seeking public feedback on 2 Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Toolkit documents. The 35-day national engagement period is open December 1, 2020 - January 5, 2021 at 5:00 pm EST. The 2 EOC Toolkit documents– the EOC How To Quick Reference Guide and the EOC References and Tools – are a collection of guidance and best practices for the emergency management community, specifically for EOCs.

To provide comments on the drafts, complete the feedback form and submit the form to fema-nims@fema.dhs.gov

Emergency Management Institute Announces EMI Transfer Credits for College Courses
The FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI) has executed an Articulation Agreement with the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC). Through this agreement, UMGC degree programs will accept EMI courses as transfer credit based upon the credit hour recommendations provided through EMI’s accreditation with the American Council on Education (ACE).

If you are a current or former student at EMI, you can earn transfer credit for your coursework toward a bachelor's degree through the EMI–UMGC articulation agreement.
  • More than 174 EMI courses and their various versions have been evaluated to save you time and money.
  • UMGC’s transfer policy allows for up to 90 credits to count toward a bachelor’s degree from a variety of sources.

To apply or learn which courses have been evaluated for college credit, visit UMGC.

To see the list of EMI courses that have been reviewed by ACE and their credit hour recommendations, visit the ACE National Guide.
Professional Development Opportunities
IAEM Annual Conference on Demand
It's not too late too enjoy over 40 hours of training sessions from this year's IAEM conference. Video sessions are available on demand until February 16 for only $199, $99 for students. Register at Registration Fees (iaem.org)

46th Annual Natural Hazards Workshop
Omni Interlocken Hotel, Broomfield, Colorado
Sunday, July 11 through Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Oct 15-20, 2021
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.
Blog Highlights
Canton blog masthead
It's The End of the World!

In 1978, historian Barbara Tuchman published a book called A Distant Mirror: the Calamitous 14th Century that provided a portrait of Western Europe in the 1300's. Tuchman's premise was that the 14th century in many ways reflected the social...

Read more
EM Blog Masthead
Strategic Crisis Management: Do Emergency Managers Have...

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. Although we sometimes use the terms interchangeably, there is ...

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From The Bookshelf
Response to Disaster: Fact Versus Fiction and Its Perpetuation
by Henry W. Fischer

Response to Disaster combines the original research of author Henry W. Fischer with the literature used today to describe behavioral and organizational challenges commonly experienced before, during, and after disasters. Actual problems are presented and compared to those often misperceived to occur, know as disaster mythology. Fisher examines case studies conducted during the post-impact and long-term recovery periods of major and minor disasters worldwide. He asserts that the role of the mass media assists in eliciting needed help with an effective response, but also perpetuates disaster mythology.

Fisher presents striking comparisons between the perception of disaster in the eyes of the general public, the actual situations emergency responders face, and the way mass media reporters broadcast information. Additionally, the problems encountered by emergency response organizations are compared and contrasted with general public and media perceptions of disaster response. Fisher presents the response to September 11, 2001, the south Asian tsunami, and hurricane Katrina in this comprehensive third 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.
Speaker's Corner
Looking for a speaker for your conference? I offer keynotes, seminars, workshops, and webinars, either in person or online. You can find more details and sample videos on my website or on my SpeakerMatch page
©Lucien G. Canton 2020. All rights reserved.
You may reprint and excerpt this newsletter provided that you include my copyright, the source,
the author, and "reprinted with permission."
ISSN: 2334-590X