Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
Volume 13 No. 7
July 2021
L. Canton Photo 2013

Welcome to the July edition of Emergency Management Solutions.
One of the problems we encounter as emergency managers is the disconnect between public perception and reality. Television in particular has conditioned us to expect quick solutions. On Star Trek, Dr. McCoy always found the cure for some never-before-encountered alien disease in less than 60 minutes. The current perception is that COVID is over or almost over and we can stop our onerous safety precautions. But even a casual study of history shows that diseases tend to linger and may never be fully eradicated. Pneumonic plague, thought to have been one of the causes of the Black Death, still surfaces from time to time. Ebola is still with us. We can not afford to let our guard down, as much as we may want to return to the way things were pre-COVID. Stay the course!

This month, Tim Riecker discusses how to select an EOC management system, Erik Bernstein, offers a case study on communications risks featuring the USPS, and Jim Dudley suggests a mechanism for redirecting tasks from police to civilian response. My own contribution is the first in a series of posts that will examine common reasons emergency operations plans may fail when needed.

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

Why Your Emergency Plan Will Fail: One-size-fits-all Planning

In my many years as a consultant, I have had the opportunity review quite a few emergency operations plans. One of the most common tasks I am asked to perform is to ensure that the EOP is conformant to the guidance in CPG 101 Developing and Maintaining Emergency Operations Plans . The one thing that I am never asked is whether I think the plan will work. Sadly, in many cases, my answer would be, “no.”

There are any number of reasons a plan will fail. In fact, one of my most popular presentations is devoted to this particular topic. Rather than cram everything into a single “top ten” post, I thought it might be more productive to write a series of posts on some of the key reasons that could lead to failure of your plan in a crisis.

Heading my list of potential problems is blind acceptance of the format guidance offered in CPG 101. This frequently produces what Dr. Erik Auf der Heide refers to as the “paper plan syndrome,” a situation where the mere existence of a plan is equated with preparedness. Sociologist Lee Clarke makes a similar point, noting that many plans are used as symbols to demonstrate that authorities are in control of a situation when just the opposite is true. The late Enrico Quarantelli put even stronger, “One of the greatest impediments to disaster preparedness is the tendency to believe that it can be accomplished merely by the completion of a written plan.”

In recent articles in my newsletter, both my colleague, Tim Riecker, and I stressed the need to make sure your plan is based on the needs and capabilities of your organization. One-size-fits-all planning almost guarantees that the resulting plan will not be aligned with those requirements. Slavishly following CPG 101 does not automatically guarantee success and can even be a barrier to it.
© 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

EOC Management Platforms

Some recent social media discussion on EOC management systems has prompted far too many thoughts for me to write in small character quantities…

I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in prospecting several systems for EOC management and other workflow management needs, along with obviously having used a multitude of these systems in EOCs and other capacities. I certainly have my preferences of different systems as well as those I’m really not a fan of, which I’m not going to get into here, though I will say there are some smaller but very successful vendors with great products and excellent track records. I think everyone needs to spec these out for themselves. One note, before I speak a bit about that process, is that you don’t necessarily need a proprietary system. Current technology facilitates file sharing, task management, accessible GIS, and other needs, though full integration and intentional design are just some of the benefits of using a proprietary system. A lot of organizations learned over the past 16 months or so of the pandemic they can get considerable mileage out of applications like Microsoft Teams and Smartsheet. There are also benefits to systems which users may use on a more regular basis than an EOC management platform which may only be used during incidents, events, and exercises.

I’ll say there is no definitive right way to spec out a system, but there are a lot of wrong ways to approach it. My observations below are in no way comprehensive, but they are hitting a lot of the big things that I’ve seen and experienced. Also, my observations aren’t highly techy since that’s not my forte (see my first item below).

Form a Team: (Yeah, we are starting this out like CPG 101.) Bring the right stakeholders together for this. Consider the whole community of your EOC. However you...
© 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.
Under Oath
By James Dudley

The next steps in curtailing calls for service

The COVID-19 pandemic will be a tipping point in the future of face-to-face elements of traditional policing. This is not necessarily a negative consequence.

The policing profession has already been confronted with challenges in recruiting new candidates to replace departments ravaged by personnel attrition. The current crisis will undoubtedly impact the future of agency funding as well.

In this confluence of attrition, the impact of COVID-19 and diminished resources, police leaders have to decide between strategic immediate and long-term solutions or hope that things get better in time. Hope is never the best strategy.

Law Enforcement Alternative Report Call Centers
As civilian staffing is usually only a fraction of a law enforcement agency’s workforce, now may be the time to streamline operations and include civilian staffing as an essential function in bridging gaps in the law enforcement mission. This can be done to enhance police services and transition some traditional calls for service to literally that, a “call for service.” Please bear in mind, this idea is to support the law enforcement mission, not supplant it.

The establishment of Law Enforcement Alternative Report Call Centers (LEARCC) would allow law enforcement officers to concentrate on essential calls for service (CFS), while civilian personnel address calls from the community.

During the last recession in 2008, departments streamlined calls to exclude multiple calls to false alarms and similar disturbances that did not require a follow-up response. Some departments moved to electronic report ...
© 2021 - James Dudley
Used with permission

James Dudley is a 32-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department. As Deputy Chief of Special Operations and Liaison to the Department of Emergency Management, he served as Incident Commander for a variety of incidents, operations and emergencies.
Bernstein Crisis Management
By Erik Bernstein

USPS Faces Another Crisis Communications Crunch

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has seen no shortage of crisis communications challenges connected – directly or tangentially – to its strange status as a business enterprise operated by the federal government. Though most will say out loud that they have low expectations from the USPS, it only takes witnessing someone receiving a package from across the country one day late or a bit banged up to hear their displeasure and realize how high expectations truly are for this organization.

Now Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has the unenviable task of explaining the agency’s latest plan; in short, to get ahead of a projected $160 billion deficit over the next decade by using less air transport and relying on its significant ground network instead. The catch? Slower service for much of the country, though how much slower seems up for debate. There’s no doubt USPS leadership knew this would be unpopular, and they came out prepared with talking points to counter.

“This allows, from our perspective, for the customers to plan, to have predictability,” Robert Cintron, the Postal Service’s vice president of logistics, reported the Washington Post. “They’re going to know what they’re going to get. There’s that one to two days for the longest [delivery] distances that we have to achieve, and we have to achieve those today. Whether we’re traversing 300 or 3,000 miles, it’s the same service standard. And that’s really the part that we see that’s not sustainable.”

Of course not everyone agrees, and there’s already been very public blowback from customers, who cite time-sensitive document and medical shipments among critical items that may be impacted, along with a coalition of 21 Attorney Generals who have launched a full-on assault in the press and via their own online platforms.
© 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
Floods in Germany: Could loss of life have been prevented?
This news report on the aftermath of the recent flooding in Germany is reminder that emergency managers face the same problems throughout the world. The video highlights issues such as spontaneous volunteers, debris clearance, priorities for limited response resources, leadership, and perceptions of failure to provide adequate warning. The floods may be in Germany, but we see the same issues in almost every disaster everywhere.
Professional Development
FEMA Releases Continuity Guide for Non-Federal Governments

Continuity ensures that the whole community has a plan for sustaining critical services and functions when routine operations are disrupted during a crisis. The “Guide to Continuity of Government for State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Governments” describes the relationship between continuity of operations, continuity of government, and enduring constitutional government. The document provides guidance in the form of planning factors to assist non-federal governments achieve viable continuity capability to ensure the resilience and preservation of government in the event of an emergency.
Visit the Continuity Toolkit for additional continuity resources and information.

FEMA Releases NIMS Incident Complexity Guide

The guide is intended for use during planning, preparedness and training efforts and not as a decision-making tool during a response.

FEMA will host a 30-minute webinar to discuss the NIMS Incident Complexity Guide and answer related questions. The webinar is open to the whole community. Advance registration is required and on a first-come, first-served basis:

Professional Development Opportunities
July 20, August 24
In 2020, 29 million people participated in the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill worldwide. Please join us for this two-part webinar series hosted the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills.

July 20 10am PST/1pm EST
In Part One, we will show you how to design and conduct a Functional Exercise for the Great Shakeout Earthquake Drill for your organization to practice "Drop, Cover, and Hold On" to test your earthquake emergency plans.

August 24th 10amPST / 1pm EST
In Part Two, we will provide you with tools and strategies to write your Great Shakeout Earthquake After Action Report and Improvement Plan that will allow you to evaluate your Functional Exercise lessons learned and earthquake emergency plan areas of Improvement.

Imagination, Improvisation, and Innovation in Emergency Management Education
The proceedings of the FEMA Higher Education Symposium are available on line at no charge. This includes videos of the sessions, PDF files of the presentations, and images of the poster session.

July 11-14, 2021
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.

Phoenix AZ
September 19-22, 2021
For over 30 years now, DRJ’s conference has been the most comprehensive in the industry and focuses on all aspects of business resiliency, continuity, and disaster recovery planning.

DRJ Fall 2021 Virtual Event
October 11-14, 2021
For over 30 years now, DRJ’s conference has been the most comprehensive in the industry and focuses on all aspects of business resiliency, continuity, and disaster recovery planning.

Grand Rapids, Michigan
Oct 15-20, 2021
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
When Accidents Happen: Managing Crisis Communication as a Family Liaison Officer
by Moose Mutlow

When Accidents Happen introduces how to meet the challenges of being a Family Liaison Officer and offers a reference to help support experienced FLO’s in their role. Backing up suggestions with examples from the field the text maps an approach to being a FLO, acknowledging the potential strengths and weaknesses of the position and defining clear parameters for FLO’s to successfully operate within. For those unfamiliar with the potential of the position it will help establish a blueprint to work from and for the more established program it can be a common reference for the team.

While geared primarily to search and rescue operations (the author's area of expertise), this book offers ideas that can be applied a range of crises requiring the need to establish a family liaison operation.
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 or on my SpeakerMatch page
©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