Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter

Volume 16 No. 1

January 2024

Hello Lucien,

Welcome to the January edition of Emergency Management Solutions.

We tend to see the new year as one of opportunities, a time were things can change for the better. Sadly, this is not the case this year. Two wars are being fought in Ukraine and the Middle East and as write there is the danger of an escalation of a low-level conflict that could well spark a third. In my own country, the United States, the polarization between political parties has reached a critical stage with a conflict on our southern border and a highly-contested election that may well prove the sparks to an expanded conflict.

As I've written before, it is absolutely essential that we as emergency managers remain as neutral as possible in the discharge of our duties. Our role is to protect the communities we serve and that includes even those with whom we may political disagree. Stay safe, my friends!

In this month's featured articles, Tim Riecker offers a mantra to help you stay sane in 2024 and Erik Bernstein writes on why crisis preparedness is more important than ever moving into the new year. My article this month looks at how the role of the emergency operations center has evolved to the present and answers some basic questions about its function.

Be well!

Lucien Canton
Featured Articles
L. Canton Photo 2013

Canton on Emergency Management

By Lucien G. Canton, CEM

The Evolving Emergency Operations Center

One of the common questions I get asked is, “What is an emergency operations center (EOC)?” It’s usually a variation on one of two themes:

  • Is it the facility or the people?
  • Is its main function command or coordination?

While the questions seem simple, the answers are not. Like so many things in emergency management, the EOC is a moving target that is constantly evolving based on operational experience and shifting policies and strategies. Redefining terms also contributes to the confusion. Finally, the ultimate defining factor of the EOC is operational context, the environment in which it operates. To understand how these three factors influence the EOC, let’s consider the evolution of the EOC.

The earliest document I have on hand relating to EOCs is Civil Preparedness Guide 1-20 Emergency Operating Center (EOC) Handbook dated May 29, 1984. Here is how it defines the EOC:

Click here to read the rest of this article

© 2024 - 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

An EM Mantra for 2024

As I was doing some cleaning and organizing in my office over the holidays, I came across a note from earlier in 2023 that had three words written on it:

  • Flexibility
  • Ingenuity
  • Resourcefulness

Admittedly I don’t recall where those words specifically came from (likely an article I read), but it’s clear to me that I wrote them down because I felt them to be important to me and what I do. I think these words apply to all of us working in emergency management, regardless of our specific areas of practice. Consider making these words your professional mantra for the new year.

  1. Flexibility – I don’t know who to credit it to, but for as long as I’ve been in emergency management, I was told that the EM slogan was ‘semper gumby’ (always flexible). In every facet of emergency management, even those that are strictly regulated or standardized, we need to always allow for flexibility. We never know what we will face, be it in steady-state operations or during disaster, and we must be able to adapt to get the job done. Those who hold too rigid become obstructionists to progress.
Click here to read the rest of this article

© 2024 - 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

Why 2024 Should Be the Year of Crisis Preparedness for Your Brand

We’re going to pose a question here and, while it’s not a terribly complicated one, if you’re reading this post because you truly care about your own organization’s wellbeing then we’d suggest you stop, take a minute and really think about your answer. Ready? Here we go.

Is your brand equipped to handle a crisis if one were to erupt today?


If you lost a major operations center overnight, if you were served papers for an unexpected lawsuit, if one of your execs went ballistic on social media right now, would you know what to do from minute one through resolution of the situation? If the answer is no, and let’s be real, for the majority of organizations out there the answer is 100% a hard no, then I have another question — what’s stopping you from getting prepared in 2024?

Despite a growing interest in crisis readiness, the stark reality is that a shocking percentage of organizations remain alarmingly unprepared for a significant crisis event that demands immediate, decisive action to prevent severe repercussions.

Some have yet to confront a truly dire situation and lack any formal strategy, while others have outdated plans collecting dust, untouched and unpracticed in years. Relying on the slim chance that another more pressing news story will overshadow your crisis is a risky gamble on a rare occurrence. Facing a crisis unprepared is like trying to weather a tornado without a shelter; sure you might get lucky but why take the risk when you can be prepared?

Click here to read the rest of this article

© 2024 - 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

Incident Command Post ICP vs Emergency Operations Center EOC

What is the relationship between the emergency operations center and the incident command post? How do the differ and how do they work together?

Basic questions that continue to cause operational problems for many jurisdictions. This short video does a good job of addressing the difference between tactical and operational responsibilities. There a lot more complexities that are involved in community response such as intermediate commands and department operations centers but this relationship between the ICP and EOC is an important basic concept.

Professional Development

FEMA releases new Exercise Starter Kits 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) National Exercise Division (NED) has developed ten new Exercise Starter Kits to support exercise practitioners and emergency managers at all levels of government, the private sector and nonprofit organizations as they plan, conduct, and evaluate their exercises. The ten new kits cover the following topics:

  • Climate resilience.
  • Climate adaptation.
  • Complex incident coordination.
  • Large-scale population movement and resettlement.
  • Mitigating social isolation and loneliness.
  • Community preparedness and response to the opioid crisis.
  • Enhancing supply chain resilience.
  • Recovery.
  • Community profile.
  • Reunification.

The new kits align with FEMA’s 2023-2026 National Exercise Program Principals’ Exercise Priorities. Each kit contains a sample exercise facilitator and evaluator guide, sample conduct slides, a sample situation manual and a customizable placemat. All Exercise Starter Kits are available in the Emergency Management Toolkit section of FEMA’s Preparedness Toolkit.

FEMA will host a series of webinars to discuss the new kits. All webinars will offer the same content. Registration is not required to attend. Visit FEMA’s Adobe Connect Room for the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) during one of the times listed below to participate:

  • Session 2: Wednesday, Jan. 31, at noon EST.
  • Session 3: Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 9 a.m. EST.

If you are unable to attend one of the webinars listed above, a recorded version of the webinar will be available on the Preparedness Toolkit HSEEP Webinars page starting Feb. 1.


Call for Weather Ready Research Proposals – WILDFIRE READY DUE JUNE 3, 2024

The Natural Hazards Center—with support from the National Science Foundation and the NOAA Weather Program Office, and in partnership with the National Severe Storms Laboratory and the National Weather Service —is issuing a series of funding calls for social, behavioral, and economic sciences to advance the understanding of how to most effectively prepare for and communicate about extreme weather, water, and climate events. This new initiative is designed to promote knowledge while also building a diverse cadre of weather ready researchers. Funds will support awards in the amount of $1,000 to $7,500 each. All proposals must be led by a researcher in the social, behavioral, or economic sciences. Collaborators from other disciplines are welcome. Early career scholars, students, advanced researchers, and practitioners interested in conducting Weather Ready research are encouraged to apply. Proposals are being accepted on a rolling basis through June 3, 2024. More information can be found at https://hazards.colorado.edu/research/weather-ready-research/index 

Call for Quick Response Research – SUBMIT NOW

With the support of the National Science Foundation, the Natural Hazards Center Quick Response Research Award Program provides funds and training for eligible researchers to collect data in the aftermath of extreme events to document disaster before memories fade and physical evidence is erased. The Natural Hazards Center is currently accepting proposals for a Special Call for Health Outcomes and Climate-Related Disaster Research. Funds will support awards in the amount of $10,000 to $50,00 each. Proposals for this special call will be accepted on a rolling basis until funds are exhausted. Apply now! More information can be found at https://hazards.colorado.edu/research/quick-response

Professional Development Opportunities

DRJ Spring 2024

Unleashing the Power of Resilience

March 17 - 20, 2024

Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld®

DRJ’s annual spring and fall conferences are the longest-running and best-attended business continuity events in the world. DRJ can help you protect your organization from today’s disruptions and tomorrow’s threats by exposing you to insights from industry leaders and giving you an early look at new BC technologies.

26th Annual Emergency Management Higher Education Symposium

June 3-5, 2024

National Emergency Training Center Campus, Emmitsburg, Maryland

The theme of this year's symposium, "Pioneering Ideas and Practices in Emergency Management Higher Education: Building More Resilient Communities," is a focal point for an event that celebrates the 30th anniversary of FEMA's Higher Education Program.

49th Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop

July 14-17, 2024

Since 1975, the Natural Hazards Center has hosted the Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop in Colorado. Today 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. 

IAEM Annual Conference and EMEX

November 15-21, 2024

Colorado Springs, CO

The goal of the IAEM Annual Conference is to improve your knowledge, competency level and collaborative skills. IAEM accomplishes this by attracting relevant high-profile speakers to address current topics and practical solutions. Convening in tandem to this annual event, EMEX, IAEM’s Emergency Management & Homeland Security Expo, draws a myriad of exhibitors who are the top suppliers to the fields of disaster preparedness and homeland security.

From The Bookshelf

Principles of Emergency Management and Emergency Operations Centers (EOC)

by Michael J. Fagel (Author)

Principles of Emergency Management and Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) provides a clear and up-to-date understanding of how an EOC should operate within the guidance of various federal and national programs. It discusses the processes and systems that must be considered in emergency planning and preparedness efforts. The culmination of more than four decades of experience, the text provides time-tested tips for those developing and revising emergency preparedness plans.

The book details the requirements for appropriate training and planning, both validated by a well-designed exercise program. Stressing the importance of consistency with the various national preparedness initiatives, it includes the latest developments and best practices in the evolving field of emergency management.

About the Author

Michael J. Fagel, Ph.D., CEM, has more than 40 years of experience in emergency management, including ten years as a Disaster Safety Officer with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). During his career he has been been involved in fire service, emergency medical service, public health, law enforcement and emergency management, bio-terrorism awareness and prevention, as well as corporate safety, security and threat risk management.

He has published hundreds of articles, two textbooks on Emergency Management, and been a contributing editor to several industry journals. He has been a chapter contributor for textbooks written by IAEM, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and National Safety Council (NSC), as well as others.

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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.

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Speaker's Corner
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©Lucien G. Canton 2023. All rights reserved.
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