Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
Volume 15 No. 1
January 2023
L. Canton Photo 2013

Welcome to the January edition of Emergency Management Solutions.

It's hard to imagine that this is the start of the fifteenth year I've been producing Emergency Management Solutions. My first newsletters were limited to two pages which included an article and some bits of current information. Over the years I gradually added new features such as the monthly video and book selection and went to a more professional delivery system. A big step forward for me was when my colleagues Tim Riecker and Erik Bernstein agreed to let me share their articles with my readers. They are among the very few writers I read regularly, and I have always found their perspectives useful. I'm also grateful to the guest columnists such as George Whitney of Complete EM, Deputy Chief Jim Dudley, and Dr. Alan Weiss of Summit Consulting who shared their wisdom.
This month, Tim raises some important concerns about the discontinuation of the All-Hazard Incident Management Team program and its potential impacts. While Erik's article addresses customer service mistakes, I think you'll find that these mistakes are pertinent to anyone that deals with the public and his article provides some valuable lessons for emergency managers. My own article offers some thoughts on the changing role of emergency managers and why we need to shift from solely operational thinking to embrace strategy development.

Be well!
Lucien Canton
Featured Articles
L. Canton Photo 2013

Canton on Emergency Management

By Lucien G. Canton, CEM

Strategic Thinking
When I first became involved in emergency management back in 1989, things were much simpler. Emergency Management was by and large considered a second career and emergency managers were predominantly male with previous careers in other services such as police, fire, and the military. we were tactically and operationally oriented and our focus was almost exclusively on the development of local emergency plans. The emphasis on civil defense planning that had characterized previous decades was being replaced by the concept of all hazards planning and the focus was shifting from strategic national issues such as nuclear war to planning for local disasters. 

Things have changed. While the professionalization of emergency management has continued to increase, so has the complexity of the issues with which we now deal. One of the biggest changes that I have seen in emergency management is the shift from purely operational planning for local disasters to the consideration of more large-scale strategic issues. This is the product of our experience with regional catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina. The problem is that consideration of strategic issues requires that we put aside personal feelings in favor of an objective assessment of risks that could affect the people we serve. 
© 2023 - Lucien G. Canton

Lucien Canton is a management 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

Federal Coordination of All-Hazard Incident Management Teams

A few months ago the FEMA administration decided that the US Fire Administration (USFA) would discontinue their management of the All-Hazards Incident Management Team (AHIMT) program, which they have developed and managed for years. While I was never in favor of the USFA managing the program (AHIMTs are not fire-service specific), the staff assigned to the program did an admirable job of growing the AHIMT concept to what we have today.

The All-Hazards Incident Management Team Association (AHIMTA), which has been a vocal proponent of the development of AHIMTs, has thankfully been working to make people aware of this change. As part of their advocacy, they also wrote to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell regarding their concerns with the dissolution of this formal program. Administrator Criswell responded to AHIMTA, indicating that despite successes, the AHIMT program has “not been able to establish a sustainable or robust AHIMT program with long-term viability.” She did indicate that the USFA will continue providing related training to state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) partners (though she specified that USFA training efforts will apply to fire and EMS agencies) and that she has directed the USFA to collaborate with the FEMA Field Operations Directorate to continue support to AHIMTs.
© 2022 - Timothy Riecker, CEDP
Used with Permission

Tim Riecker 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

by Erik Bernstein
5 Crisis-Causing Customer Service Mistakes to Avoid

One of the best titles I’ve ever seen on a customer service desk nameplate is, “Director of First Impressions.” It showed they knew they were in a make-or-break position for their business, and that they were well aware initial opinions of clients are often influenced by how they were treated right off the bat – even if they were having a bad day. In fact, especially when they were having a bad day!

Experts agree that consistently strong customer service is a huge part of preventing otherwise-avoidable crises, which is why today we’d like to discuss what we’ll call The Top 5 Crisis-Causing Mistakes in Customer Service.

  1. Engaging without consideration. Before walking into the room or picking up that phone you should take a moment to consider what your goal is for the conversation and how you plan to get there. Most practices see similar categories of issues popping up with some regularity, and you may want to put together an actual playbook with if/then reactions for common events. Part of prior prep is evaluating your own mental bandwidth for the day too. If you know you’re at risk of representing yourself or your business in a less-than-ideal way, then consider whether it’s possible to seek a quick second opinion or even hand the task off entirely.
© 2022 - Erik Bernstein
Used with permission

Erik Bernstein is President of Bernstein Crisis Management, a specialized firm dedicated to providing holistic strategies for managing crisis situations.
Featured Video
How Civil Wars Start: The Rise of Extremism in the U.S.

Democracy in America is balanced on a knife edge, says political scientist Barbara F. Walter, but it may not be too late to rescue it. Walter is the author of "How Civil Wars Start" and she speaks with Hari Sreenivasan about how America can prevent another one from starting.
Professional Development
Free Webinar Series

The Natural Hazards Center, in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is pleased to present the Making Mitigation Work Webinar Series. These free one-hour webinars feature innovative speakers and highlight progress in mitigation policy, practice, and research.

Save the dates for future Making Mitigation Work webinars:
February 7, 2023, 11:00 a.m. to Noon MST
March 14, 2023, 11:00 a.m. to Noon MST
April 18, 2023, 11:00 a.m. to Noon MST
May 16, 2023, 11:00 a.m. to Noon MST
June 13, 2023, 11:00 a.m. to Noon MST
Professional Development Opportunities
Virtual Option Available
Orlando Florida
March 12-15, 2023
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. The tools you gain at DRJ Events will help you reduce downtime, increase safety, secure your data, and reduce your overall risk.

May 7-11, 2023
Raleigh, North Carolina
The world’s largest and most comprehensive floodplain management conference.

National Emergency Training Center (NETC) Emmitsburg, Maryland
June 5-7, 2023
Connecting our Past with our Future: Celebrating Community Impact through 25 Years of the FEMA Higher Education Symposium

Broomfield, Colorado
July 9-12, 2023
More information to follow!

November 3-9, 2023
Long Beach, CA
The goal of the IAEM Annual Conference is to improve the knowledge, competency level and collaborative skills of attendee. 
From The Bookshelf
How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them
by Barbara F. Walter

Political violence rips apart several towns in southwest Texas. A far-right militia plots to kidnap the governor of Michigan and try her for treason. An armed mob of Trump supporters and conspiracy theorists storms the U.S. Capitol. Are these isolated incidents? Or is this the start of something bigger? Barbara F. Walter has spent her career studying civil conflict in places like Iraq, Ukraine, and Sri Lanka, but now she has become increasingly worried about her own country.

Perhaps surprisingly, both autocracies and healthy democracies are largely immune from civil war; it’s the countries in the middle ground that are most vulnerable. And this is where more and more countries, including the United States, are finding themselves today.

Over the last two decades, the number of active civil wars around the world has almost doubled. Walter reveals the warning signs—where wars tend to start, who initiates them, what triggers them—and why some countries tip over into conflict while others remain stable. Drawing on the latest international research and lessons from over twenty countries, Walter identifies the crucial risk factors, from democratic backsliding to factionalization and the politics of resentment. A civil war today won’t look like America in the 1860s, Russia in the 1920s, or Spain in the 1930s. It will begin with sporadic acts of violence and terror, accelerated by social media. It will sneak up on us and leave us wondering how we could have been so blind.

In this urgent and insightful book, Walter redefines civil war for a new age, providing the framework we need to confront the danger we now face—and the knowledge to stop it before it’s too late.
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 2023. 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