Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
Volume 13 No. 12
December 2021
L. Canton Photo 2013

Welcome to the December edition of Emergency Management Solutions.

The holidays are always a mixed blessing for emergency managers. On the one hand, it is the "season of joy" embraced by most religions with roots reaching back to the traditional winter feasts that celebrated the end of the harvests and looked to the rebirth of spring. But to many emergency managers in the northern hemisphere it means the end of the fire season and the beginning of winter storms and the prelude to floods. It's all a question of perspective.

In this month's featured articles, Tim Riecker offers insights on diversity and inclusion in emergency management, George Whitney talks about the importance of understanding the authorities inherent in emergency declarations, and Erik Bernstein provides an explanation on why crisis communications is critical to your continuity planning. In my own offering, I'm concluding my series on why plans fail with a discussion on including all stakeholders in emergency planning.

Whatever your faith or beliefs, I wish you much joy of the season and the hope that the next year will be

Be well!
Lucien Canton
Featured Articles
L. Canton Photo 2013
Canton On Emergency Management

By Lucien Canton

Why Your Emergency Plan Will Fail: Ignoring Inclusiveness

Some years ago, I was tasked with reviewing the evacuation plan for a large metropolitan area. The plan looked pretty good and seemed to address all the critical issues. Things began to fall apart quickly when I started asking questions about how the plan was developed. It turned out that the plan had been written by a single individual in two weeks on the orders of his department head. None of the agencies tasked to support the plan were aware of it or had ever been consulted. In addition, the plan effectively ended at the county line; none of the adjacent counties had been consulted as to how they would support a major evacuation. The plan was well written but totally worthless, the classic example of a “paper plan.”

This is an extreme example of failing to include stakeholders in the development of an emergency plan. Few planners would fail to include coordination with other agencies in their plans. However, these same planners frequently neglect to include non-response-oriented stake holders in their planning process.

The first time I recommended a declaration of emergency to our mayor in San Francisco, the process almost suffered a significant delay when the City Attorney’s staff insisted on reviewing the standard format included in the emergency plan. It seems they had never been consulted on the plan and new nothing about the declaration process or recovery programs, despite the city still being heavily involved in recovery from the Loma Prieta earthquake. Within a few weeks, we had... 
© 2021 -  Lucien G. Canton

Lucien Canton is consultant specializing in helping managers lead better in a crisis. He is the former Director of Emergency Services for San Francisco and the author of the best-selling Emergency Management: Concepts and Strategies for Effective Programs used as a textbook in many higher education courses.
The Contrarian Emergency Manager

By Timothy "Tim" Riecker

Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management

There have been a number of efforts to further the expansion of diversity and inclusion in Emergency Management recently. A great step forward has recently been made by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), by organizing their own internal Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) within the agency. Their press release states it is the first of its kind across the nation dedicated to reducing barriers to assistance and equality in disaster relief and emergency management. They will provide subject matter expertise, strategic leadership, and technical assistance to VDEM and other Emergency Management partners.

Diversity and inclusion are equally important internally to Emergency Management as they are externally. It starts with deliberate intent from leadership and inclusion in the strategic plans of the organization, with personnel across the organization made familiar with goals, specific approaches, and given examples of what to do and how to do it. Whether you establish a specific unit within your Emergency Management organization or not, the effort must permeate the entirety of the Emergency Management practice, regardless of those efforts originating with the Emergency Management agency or elsewhere. Consider your own internal matters, such as hiring, partner agencies and organizations, and your own personnel practices and relationships. Large agencies should ensure that their staff reflect the demographics of the communities they serve. It’s not just a matter of race and gender, but ethnic and cultural background, languages, disability, and other factors.
© 2021 -  Timothy Riecker, CEDP
Used with Permission

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.
Complete EM

By George Whitney

The Risk, Reward and Responsibility of Maintaining Local Emergency Code

Many emergency managers struggle with stakeholder engagement – getting people to participate in important program activities. Strong, broad, mutually beneficial engagement is, of course, critical to emergency management program success. Maintaining and adhering to city and county code is one of the easiest ways to ensure this vital engagement.

Town councils, county commissions and boards enact ordinance and code that have the effect of law. Codes that relate to emergency management often define the conditions that constitute emergency, delegate emergency powers and outline the roles and responsibilities of emergency management programs. Codes define local emergency management policy, so emergency managers should not only become very familiar with local code, they should accept staff responsibility for compliance and help to maintain it.

Notwithstanding the needs of any current emergency, emergency managers should first review their code for requirements to convene some form of disaster council. Years ago, codes created councils to ensure involvement in civil preparedness. At some point, local emergency managers may have found such meetings to be arduous to plan or facilitate, less-productive or less-enjoyable than other activities or procrastinated and deferred organizing these meetings until they were...
© 2020 - George Whitney
Used with permission

George Whitney is the founder and CEO of Complete EM, a web-based collection of tools and complementary approaches that help emergency managers assess their programs, organize program improvement efforts, and complete necessary projects 
Bernstein Crisis Management

By Erik Bernstein

Why Business Continuity Needs Crisis Communications
Business continuity is just one element of strategic crisis management, and failure to recognize this reality can leave you dangerously vulnerable to communication or reputation-related threats. Any company believing that a business continuity plan alone makes it prepared to face a serious crisis situation is in for a sudden (and costly!) surprise.

Not to minimize the importance of business continuity planning! To be clear, making sure your organization can continue to actually function during tough situations with as little disruption as possible is a piece you can’t go without. But, if you’re not ready to communicate about issues you encounter when, for example, your production line has to shut down, or a key staff member posts something inappropriate online, you’re still missing a critical part of the puzzle.

While ten to fifteen years ago I’d say the risk of loss posed by the actual disruption of things like supply lines or operations centers were much more obvious than those related to communication related to those issues, that’s not really true anymore, is it? It feels fair to say that the vast majority of negative headlines today are generated by poor crisis communications practices connected to operational hurdles, not the hurdles themselves. To me this says most are now educated on the sheer level of trouble saying the wrong thing – or saying nothing at all! – can create.
© 2021 - Erik Bernstein
Used with permission

Erik Bernstein is Vice President of Bernstein Crisis Management, a specialized firm dedicated to providing holistic strategies for managing crisis situations.
Featured Video
Fifty Years of Risk Communication Research

Dennis Mileti, who passed away due to complications from COVID-19 on January 31, 2021, was a luminary in the field of hazards and disaster research and is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading risk communication scholars. For over 40 years he advocated for creating messages and warnings that are clear, concise, consistent, and delivered via trusted messengers through multiple channels. He was a champion for developing public communications that encouraged people to prepare for and respond appropriately to disaster risk. He was such a fierce advocate for evidence-informed action in emergency management because he knew that this research could save lives.

This panel presentation features Dr. Mileti’s former students, collaborators, and the beneficiaries of his research, sharing 3 major lessons that they learned from working with him or using his research over the years. You can view PDFs of the slides and commemorative photos of Dennis or view the video recording of the panel presentations and Q&A here.
Professional Development
Dr. Dennis Mileti was one of the major thought leaders in emergency management and his loss to COVID earlier this year was deeply felt by his many admirers and friends. The Natural Hazards Center has assembled a collection of videos by Dr.Mileti and others honoring his work. This is an excellent introduction to the man and his body of work and I highly recommend taking the time to view these videos.

Sharing during disasters is an important form of prosocial behavior in isolated island communities with limited opportunity for mutual aid and outside assistance. Due to geographic isolation, islands are disproportionately exposed to hazards, threats, and risks and must develop approaches to cope with disasters with the lack of mutual aid from neighboring jurisdictions. This study examines the sharing behaviors in island communities and offers lessons on prosocial behaviors during disasters.

Professional Development Opportunities
Atlanta GA
April 3-7, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced public health professionals across the globe to reevaluate what it means to be prepared for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate disaster response. The theme of the next Preparedness Summit, Reimagining Preparedness in the Era of COVID-19, will provide an opportunity to reflect on lessons learned from current and previous responses, and highlight tools, resources, and learnings that we can apply into the future.

Broomfield, Colorado
July 10-13, 2022
The Workshop brings together federal, state, and local mitigation and emergency management officials and planning professionals; representatives of nonprofit, private sector, and humanitarian organizations; hazards and disaster researchers; and others dedicated to alleviating the impacts of disasters.

Savannah, GA
Nov 11-18, 2022
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
Disasters by Design: A Reassessment of Natural Hazards in the United States
by Dennis Mileti

Disasters by Design provides an alternative and sustainable way to view, study, and manage hazards in the United States that would result in disaster-resilient communities, higher environmental quality, inter- and intragenerational equity, economic sustainability, and improved quality of life. This volume provides an overview of what is known about natural hazards, disasters, recovery, and mitigation, how research findings have been translated into policies and programs; and a sustainable hazard mitigation research agenda. Also provided is an examination of past disaster losses and hazards management over the past 20 years, including factors--demographic, climate, social--that influence loss.
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
©Lucien G. Canton 2021. 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