Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
Volume 14 No. 1
January 2022
L. Canton Photo 2013

Welcome to the January edition of Emergency Management Solutions.

The New Year certainly got started with a bang, literally, with the eruption of an underseas volcano near the island of Tonga. It serves as a reminder that disasters can occur without warning and may have consequence far beyond the disaster area, as witnessed by the tsunami caused by the eruption and its impact on Pacific coastlines. Food for thought.

This month, Tim Riecker offers his incite on the recently released National Preparedness report, George Whitney shares the results on an informal survey of emergency managers, Jonathan Bernstein provides a cautionary note on the misuse of email, and my own article looks at historical examples of cascading events and their implication for emergency planners.

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

By Lucien Canton

Cascading Catastrophes

In an article some years ago, my colleague Bob Jaffin suggested that the difference between homeland security and emergency management was one of focus; while homeland security targeted threats external to the country, emergency managers concentrated on internal threats to the communities they served. This internal focus is completely understandable but can blind one to threats that originate externally but create cascading effects that have an impact on local communities.

The recent eruption of an underseas volcano in Tonga is an example of this problem. Although occurring some 5,000 miles away, the tsunami wave generated by the eruption caused an estimated $6.5 million in damages to the harbor in Santa Cruz, California, and the need for numerous rescues of surfers and sightseers.

 While the damage to the West Coast was slight, events with widespread impact are the literally the stuff of legend: 
  • There is a hypothesis that the Black Sea may have been formed by a catastrophic rise in sea levels around 5600 BCE, an event that may have served as the basis for the story of Noah’s ark and other legends of a great flood.
  • The eruption of the Thera volcano circa 1600 BCE may have led to the fall of the Minoan civilization and the legend of Atlantis.
  • A recent report on archeological excavations in Tell el-Hammam, Israel, suggest that an asteroid struck the area around 1650 BCE, possibly giving rise to the biblical story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
© 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

2021: Another Horrible National Preparedness Report

FEMA’s Christmas present to us in 2021, as with the past several years, was the National Preparedness Report. Before I dive in, a few of reminders. 1) You can find my reviews of the reports of prior years here. 2) To get copies of the reports of prior years, FEMA archives these in the unrestricted side of the Homeland Security Digital Library. 3) Each report is derived from data from the year prior, so this December 2021 report actually covers the calendar year of 2020.

The 2021 report covers risks and capabilities, as have the reports of past years. It also covers ‘Management Opportunities’ which “the Federal Government, SLTTs (state, local, territories, and tribes), and the private sector could use to build capability and address capacity gaps.” It offers a slightly different perspective than the prior year’s ‘Critical Considerations for Emergency Management’, but fundamentally offers the same type of constructive commentary.

Keeping in mind that through much of 2020, the US, as with nations across the globe, was managing the COVID 19 Coronavirus pandemic. An observation from this report is that the word ‘COVID’ comes up 222 times in the document. That is a LOT of focus on one particular hazard. While I’ll grant that it impacted everyone, had a number of cascading impacts, and there are some statements made in the document about other hazards and concurrent incidents, I fear that when nearly every paragraph mentions COVID, we seem to lose a sense of all-hazard emergency management...
© 2022 -  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

Survey Says...

A member of our team recently conducted an informal survey of emergency managers and confirmed what many suspect.

A group of approximately 1500 people associated with an online emergency management forum were invited to participate in the anonymous, online survey. It contained 25 questions and took respondents an average of 14 minutes to complete it.

Below are some survey response highlights.
  • Most survey respondents (57%) work as city/county emergency managers. The next largest group work as university emergency managers (22%). Respondents work an average of 41 hours each week and nearly half (52%) have 10 years of experience in the profession. Their median annual salary is $62,000. Nearly 83% were either satisfied or very satisfied with their job.
  • Respondents believe their programs are most successful managing relationships and exercising. Public preparedness, recovery, planning and mitigation are areas where programs struggle most.
  • Over 70% of respondents believe their organization’s performance is better than adequate. Limited staff, authority, and funding 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

Practicing Restraint of Pen, Tongue and Send Button
 This month's column was contributed by Eric's father, Jonathan Bernstein.

That darn Send button.

It’s much too easy to click the Send button on any communications device and just as easy for whatever you send to be (a) misunderstood; (b) shared with others along with the recipient’s personal opinions; and, (c) posted widely online in places you never expected. We all know that but, factually, if more people practiced restraint of pen, tongue and Send button, we’d have less business. In fact, communications situations in which people were careless, foolish, vindictive, or simply under the influence continue to be a primary cause of breaking crisis cases to which we respond on an almost-daily basis.

It’s an old adage to “practice restraint of pen and tongue” in order to avoid negative responses that could escalate to crisis level. The Internet has made it possible to “share” any crisis-level errors you or someone at your organization makes in any form. What you say can be recorded, even if illegal in your location. What you write can be captured. Both can be shared widely by someone who was not happy with the messaging. If someone is unhappy and at all knowledgeable about how to use social media and review sites, for example, the damage can be extensive.
© 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
New images show extensive damage from Tonga volcano eruption

Reconnaissance flights from Australia and New Zealand have revealed the extent of the damage in Tonga from Saturday's massive volcanic eruption and tsunami. Damage to the airport and communications cables are hampering relief efforts.
Professional Development
FEMA Issues 2022-2026 FEMA Strategic Plan
FEMA has released its new 2022-2026 FEMA Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan positions the agency to respond to a changing landscape in which the emergency management community must embrace its expanding role. To meet this challenge, the Strategic Plan outlines three bold and ambitious goals:
Goal 1 - Instill Equity as a Foundation of Emergency Management
Goal 2 - Lead Whole of Community in Climate Resilience
Goal 3 - Promote and Sustain a Ready FEMA and Prepared Nation

Read Tim Riecker's assessment of the Strategic Plan here.

FEMA launches National Resource Hub
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) launched a new National Resource Hub to support communities in implementing the resource management preparedness process defined in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the National Qualification System (NQS). The National Resource Hub is available as part of FEMA’s Preparedness Toolkit (PrepToolkit). It is a suite of web-based tools, consolidating the existing Resource Typing Library Tool and OneResponder, as well as a newly launched, centralized, and cloud-hosted Resource Inventory System.
  • The Resource Typing Library Tool provides an online library of all resources typing definitions, job titles/position qualification sheets, and position task book (PTB) templates that have been released by FEMA as a part of the NIMS and NQS.
  • One Responder provides a solution for organizations and responders to manage personnel qualifications and training history as part of implementing a qualifications and credentialing management process consistently with the NQS.
  • The Resource Inventory System provides a solution for organizations to inventory and identify resources and personnel, consistently with NIMS resource typing definitions and job titles/position qualification sheets.

How to Handle Captioning and ASL Requests for Virtual Meetings
The Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology published How to Handle Captioning and ASL Requests for Virtual Meetings. This resource provides tips on dealing with American Sign Language and captioning requests for virtual meetings.
The suggestions include to:
  1. Invite participants to make accommodation requests before they attend the meeting.
  2. Send materials you will cover in an accessible format well in advance of the meeting.
  3. Identify providers and how to set up the meeting for success.

Steps to Make Websites and Apps More Accessible
Creating websites and mobile apps with people of all abilities in mind will lead to more individuals being able to use the products and an overall more inclusive digital environment.
The article, It’s time to make websites and apps more accessible. Here are 8 steps to take discusses the importance of considering accessibility at every step of the development process and lists 8 steps to take to create a more accessible digital space. These steps include: plan ahead, research, design with functionality in mind, craft user-friendly content, develop for people of all abilities, test for accessibility, leave room for feedback, and iterate (i.e., creating an accessible product is a continuous process).
Professional Development Opportunities
Lake Buena Vista, FL
March 20-23, 2022
DRJ is the industry’s largest resource for business continuity, disaster recovery, crisis communication, and risk management, reaching a global network of more than 138,000 professionals. DRJ conferences are the world’s largest conferences dedicated to building resiliency. Online Option Available

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. Online Option Available

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.

DRJ Fall 2022
Sep 11-14, 2022
Phoenix, AZ
DRJ is the industry’s largest resource for business continuity, disaster recovery, crisis communication, and risk management, reaching a global network of more than 138,000 professionals. DRJ conferences are the world’s largest conferences dedicated to building resiliency.

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
Tsunami: The World's Greatest Waves
by James Goff and Walter Dudley

The ferocious waves of a tsunami can travel across oceans at the speed of a jet airplane. They can kill families, destroy entire cultures, and even gut nations. To understand these beasts in our waters well enough to survive them, we must understand how they're created and learn from the past.

Tsunami specialists James Goff and Walter Dudley arm readers with everything they need to survive a tsunami ― and maybe even avoid the next one. The book takes readers on a historical journey through some of the most devastating tsunamis in human history, some of the quirky ones, and even some that may not even be what most of us think of as tsunamis. Diving into personal and scientific stories of disasters, Tsunami pulls readers into the many ways these waves can be generated, ranging from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to explosions, landslides, and beyond. The book provides overviews of some of the great historical events - the 1755 Lisbon, 1946 Aleutian, 1960 Chile, and 2004 Indian Ocean tsunamis, but also some of the less well-known as well such as the 1958 Lituya Bay, 563 CE Lake Geneva, a 6,000 year old Papua New Guinean mystery, and even a 2.5 Million year old asteroid. This is not straight science, though. Each event is brought to life in a variety of ways through stories of survival, human folly, and echoes of past disasters etched in oral traditions and the environment. The book combines research from oceanography, biogeography, geology, history, archaeology and more, with data collected from over 400 survivor interviews. Alongside carefully selected images and the scientific measurements of these tsunamis, the book offers tales of survival, heroism, and tragic loss.

Through a balanced combination of personal experience, the Earth's changing environment, tales of tragedy, and a recount of oral traditions, Tsunami allows readers to engage with a new scientific approach to these overwhelming waves. The resulting book unveils the science of disaster like never before.
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 2022. 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