Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
Volume 12 No.7
July 2020
L. Canton Photo 2013

Welcome to the July edition of Emergency Management Solutions.
You'll notice a new look to my newsletter as the result of moving from my legacy format to a more modern version. All your favorite features are still here, though.
This month Tim Riecker shares some ideas on EOC mission planning and Erik Bernstein reviews some common pitfalls that can cause your crisis management communications to fail. Like so many of us, I've been monitoring the many demonstrations taking place across the United States and reviewing lessons from previous events. My article this month shares some of my thinking on these issues.
Be well!
Lucien Canton
Canton On Emergency Management
Perception is Reality
Thoughts on Responding to Civil Unrest
By Lucien G. Canton

Art Botterell’s Fourth Law of Emergency Management states, “Perception is reality,” a statement that acknowledges that what people believe often outweighs the facts surrounding a crisis. We see this often in disaster operations where responders believe they are doing well, but the public perception is that the response is inadequate.
Perceptions are the product of emotion, not facts. Often it is the result of confirmation bias, a willingness to accept as accurate information that confirms what we believe and to ignore information that contradicts that belief. This is particularly true where little is known about the incident and information is gleaned from speculative media reports or misinformation spread via social media.
This certainly is the case we are facing now with the current civil unrest across the nation. Facts are limited and people are taking sides based on emotion, without recognizing that the issues are not mutually exclusive, and we could agree on a common ground. 
As emergency managers, we must, regardless of our personal feelings, remain neutral and provide impartial advice on how best to respond to civil unrest. Here are some thoughts for your consideration.

Exploring Emergency Management and Homeland Security
EOC Mission Planning
By Timothy "Tim" Riecker

I’ve been wrong. I used to teach and otherwise espouse that emergency operations centers didn’t actually do operations. I was bought in to the traditional perspective that EOCs ONLY provided resource support and information coordination. I’m not sure how or why I bought into this when on incidents I was actually involved in planning and directing certain operations. This mentality goes back, for me, about 15 years. It’s important to break this myth and acknowledge the role that EOCs can and should play in incident management.
EOCs being involved in directing field operations is certainly nothing new. If you don’t want to take my word for it, it’s also doctrinal. Check out the EOC section of the NIMS document. “EOC staff may share the load with on-scene incident personnel by managing certain operations, such as emergency shelters or points of distribution. When on-scene incident command is not established, such as in a snow emergency, staff in EOCs may direct tactical operations.”
This post has been in the works for a while. Several months ago, I was developing structured guidance on EOC mission planning for a client and realized it would be a good topic to write about. I recently made some social media posts on the topic, with responses encouraging me to write more. So, it was clearly time to do so.
As I had posted on social media, if you don’t think an EOC actually does operations, I’d suggest that the EOCs you are familiar with either haven’t had the opportunity to properly apply mission support or they are doing something wrong. Certainly not every incident will require an EOC to provide mission support, but EOCs should be ready to do so.
EOC missions are typically initiated one of three ways:
  1. A request by incident command to handle a matter which is outside their present area of responsibility or capability,
  2. EOC personnel recognize an operational need that isn’t being addressed, or
  3. The EOC is directed to take certain action from an executive level.
As the NIMS doctrine states, operations that are prime candidates for EOC-directed missions could be emergency shelters or points of distribution. Other operations, such as debris management, or (something recently experienced by many jurisdictions) isolation and quarantine operations are also often EOC-directed.

© 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

Five Crisis Communications #Fails for 2020
By Erik Bernstein

It’s the year 2020 and yet, sadly, some organizations and individuals seem to still be living 10 to 20 years in the past in terms of crisis communications best practices. Here are five ways in which they #fail as a result, providing you with the ability to learn from their mistakes.
  1. Not providing for 24/7 response to breaking events. Regardless of your location, we live in a global information environment. Crisis management teams need the means to detect and rapidly respond to breaking situations around-the-clock, because in the absence of communication, rumor and innuendo fill the gap.  Personnel in different time zones, if they can’t reach the “right person” at the organizational HQ, will “wing it” – with sometimes disastrous results.
  2. Providing data that doesn’t hold up to fact-checking. The practice of fact-checking has increased dramatically in recent years. Professional organizations and talented amateurs are very publicly picking apart statements which contain falsehoods. You will get castigated whether false information was provided intentionally or simply because you didn’t adequately fact-check your own data first.
  3. Using only one medium to reach your stakeholders. With so many sources of information available to and used by many of your stakeholders, don’t make the mistake of assuming that any single medium – e.g., a press release, an employee meeting, a dedicated web page – will reach them. Determine now, before you need it, which forms of communication reach your stakeholders best when the message is urgent.
  4. Flying below the radar. With almost half the world’s population in possession of a smart phone and the practice of leaking information having turned into almost a recreational sport, there is no flying below the radar anymore. However, you still retain the ability to “get ahead of the news” if no leaks have yet occurred and then you can introduce the hot topic yourself, with appropriate key messages.
  5. Trying to “contain” a crisis situation. Along the same lines as “flying below the radar,” it used to be possible to contain a crisis situation locally – i.e., what happened in most cities stayed in those cities unless the event was truly national news and shared on the major networks. There is no container impervious to the news sharing inherent in the Internet and all of our marvelous communications devices. We see examples in the news every day of people who didn’t expect to end up in news coverage (or a viral meme!) but who were captured on someone’s cellphone camera.
© 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
Civil Defense: Emergency Operating Centers
Here's a throwback from the Civil Defense days about how to develop and staff your EOC. Some of the biases from 1967 might bring a smile (only men are allowed to staff the EOC, for example) but some of the advice on how the EOC works actually holds up quite well.
With thanks to Stephanie Anna DeLorenzo.
Professional Development
FEMA releases updated public assistance guidance
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released the fact sheet Coordinating Public Assistance and Other Sources of Federal Funding to provide clear guidance on how FEMA will treat the multiple sources of funding as they relate to the public assistance program and its cost share requirements. To respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Congress authorized more than $3 trillion to multiple federal agencies to provide assistance to state, local, tribal and territorial governments. Several agencies are offering aid and in some cases it overlaps with FEMA authority. Generally, funding from other federal agencies cannot be used to meet the FEMA public assistance non-federal cost share requirement. For COVID-19, however, there are two exceptions: Department of Treasury’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Relief Fund and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Disaster Block Grant (CDBG-CV). While cost share requirements vary from agency-to-agency and program-to-program, many programs funded by the CARES Act and the other supplemental appropriations do not require a non-federal share.
Professional Development Opportunities
Virtual Conference
Nov. 16-18, 2020
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
In These Dark Days, Social Media May Offer a Gleam of Light

Social media has always been a two-edged sword. It is the purveyor of misinformation and has been responsible for generating a lot of fear over COVID-19. There's evidence that it's being used by foreign governments to generate much of that fear...

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 ...

Read more
From The Bookshelf
The Riot Makers: The Technology of Social Demolition
by Eugene H. Methvin

  While much of the material in this out-of-print book is a bit dated, Methvin's premise is still valid. He suggests that riots don't "just happen" but have precursors that can be identified. More importantly there are is a distinct pattern for taking advantage of these pre-existing conditions to manipulate crowds to create what he calls "social demolition". He uses examples from the race riots of the sixties to demonstrate how a small group of radicals caused these events to escalate.
The book is not easy going. Methvin spends a lot of time looking at the historical origins of social demolition in the works of Lenin and it's application via Communist infiltration. He lays out the step-by-step process for social demolition in detail.
While a difficult read, the book holds lessons for those of us dealing with the current civil disturbances. Methvin's theories certainly help to explain the actions taking place across the United States. It's tough going but does hold some valuable insights.

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. You can find more details and sample videos on  my website  or on my  SpeakerMatch  page. 
©Lucien G. Canton 2020. All rights reserved.
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the author, and "reprinted with permission."
ISSN: 2334-590X