Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
Volume 13 No. 6
June 2021
L. Canton Photo 2013

Welcome to the June edition of Emergency Management Solutions.

It's been a busy few weeks with our move to Ireland and getting settled in. Thanks to the many who have sent us well wishes; they were appreciated.

Several folks have asked about contacting me now that I am in Ireland. My email address is unchanged and my business line will also reach me. There is a time gap (we're 8 hours ahead of Pacific time), so it may take me a while to get back to you.

This month, Tim Riecker and I share a common view on ESFs from slightly different perspectives, Jim Dudley suggests a technique for avoiding the trap of "group-think" in your emergency planning, and Johnathan Bernstein offers suggestions for increasing resilience to business interruptions.
Be well!
Lucien Canton
Featured Articles
L. Canton Photo 2013
Canton On Emergency Management
By Lucien Canton

Are You Wasting Your Time With ESFs?

In a recent article ESFs Aren’t for Everyone, my colleague, Tim Riecker argues against the use of the Emergency Support Function (ESF) system for local emergency operations centers (EOC). As someone who was in almost at the adoption of the ESF system by FEMA, I wholeheartedly concur with Tim’s assessment.

To provide a bit of context, the ESF concept was developed just prior to the Loma Prieta earthquake by FEMA Region IX to coordinate decentralized federal operations following a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay region. The plan was for each federal agency to perform its assigned mission independently on the assumption that communications would be disrupted and central coordination sporadic. The concept was never implemented as planned, instead defaulting to coordination via the Regional Operations Center and the Disaster Field Office. The ESF concept was later adopted for general use by FEMA in all disasters. 

The problems began as FEMA moved towards adoption of the Incident Command System and attempted to merge the two systems in the years following Hurricane Iniki. ICS was developed specifically for to facilitate centralized coordination of response activities by agencies that were primarily hierarchical in nature. ESFs, as Tim points out, while capable of providing immediate response support, also have primary recovery missions. For example, the primary mission of ESF 2 Communications is the restoration of communications infrastructure. Immediate response support is secondary to this mission. Communications support to the operations center is generally...
© 2021 -  Lucien G. Canton

Lucien Canton is consultant specializing 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

ESFs Aren’t for Everyone

Through the years I’ve had numerous conversations with states, cities, and others about organizing their emergency operations plans (EOPs) around Emergency Support Functions (ESFs). In every conversation I’ve suggested against the use of ESFs. Why?

Let’s start with definitions. One definition of ESFs provided by FEMA states that ESFs ‘describe federal coordinating structures that group resources and capabilities into functional areas most frequently needed in a national response’. Another states that ESFs are ‘a way to group functions that provide federal support to states and federal-to-federal support, both for Stafford Act declared disasters and emergencies and for non-Stafford Act incidents.’ The National Response Framework (NRF) states that ESFs are ‘response coordinating structures at the federal level’.

The key word in these definitions is ‘federal’. ESFs are a construct originally of the Federal Response Plan (FRP) which was in place from 1992 to 2004. The FRP was a signed agreement among 27 Federal departments and agencies as well as the America Red Cross that outlined how Federal assistance and resources would be provided to state and local governments during a disaster. The ESFs were carried into the National Response Plan in 2004 and the National Response Framework in 2008.

While the NRF, CPG 101, and other sources indicate that other levels of government may also organize their response structure utilizing ESFs, I think any attempts are awkward and confusing at best.
© 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

Incorporating the ‘tenth man’ concept into critical decision-making

When problem-solving, creating policy, or preparing for the next big event, it is important to designate someone on the planning team to be the “tenth man” (or woman). This individual essentially plays devil’s advocate in stating alternative perspectives to problem-solving. The concept was devised by the Israeli government in response to poor planning for the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

The role of the tenth man is to review available intelligence to then articulate opposing arguments to whatever solutions or decisions are being proposed. By considering the tenth man’s perspective, information or scenarios that may otherwise be overlooked and unanticipated may be revealed.

In the American military and in law enforcement, the “Red Team” concept involves examining intelligence or a policy proposal. The US Army's definition of red teaming is:

A function executed by trained, educated, and practiced team members that provides commanders an independent capability to fully explore alternatives in plans, operations, concepts, organizations, and capabilities in the context of the operational environment and from the perspectives of our partners, adversaries, and others."

We used the process at my former department in accordance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in preparation for large, planned events. NIMS and the Incident Command System guidelines allow for a planning structure to include the command structure, including the designation of individuals in charge of staging, personnel, and strategies in the form of the Planning Section, Operations Section, Finance and Administration and Logistics Sections. An Intelligence Section or Intel Unit is responsible for analyzing all available information to help plan for the event, including reports from outside state and local agencies, federal agencies, and open-source materials, including social media.
© 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

How Much Damage Do You Want to Incur From a Major Business Interruption?

This month's column was contributed by Eric's father, Jonathan Bernstein.

Recent burst of serious disruptions highlights need for crisis preparedness and planning
Ransomware hackers shut down a critical oil pipeline.

  • A single ship blocks the entire Suez Canal.
  • Animal rights protestors blockade four McDonald’s distribution centers in the UK, impacting 1,300 restaurants.
  • Covid-19 disrupts every aspect of the global supply chain.
  • Tensions in the South China sea shut down commerce through the region (a very real future possibility).

Whether it’s an incident affecting a single location, or a pandemic sweeping the globe, business continuity is increasingly vulnerable to a wide variety of natural and man-made interruptions for which organizations must plan as carefully as they plan for launching any product or service.

The depth of backup resources (internal and external) and an organization’s ability to quickly pivot their operations and communications (which requires advance planning and training) are two of the most critical elements of preparing for business interruption.

Failure to prepare for business interruption is a guaranteed way to ensure that you incur more damage from any interruption, damage to both reputation and bottom line. We saw that happen, when, at the start of the Covid-19 crisis, our agency consulted to several organizations which wanted to reassure their employees, clients/customers, shareholders, and other stakeholders that they were responding to the pandemic threat appropriately. We saw how much more difficult that was to communicate when an organization had not, in fact, done the right kind of advance preparation. When advance prep had been...
© 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
15 Items The Red Cross Wants You To Stockpile Today!
This video and it's companion video 11 Items FEMA Wants You To Keep In Your Home are surprisingly lucid and well done. The narrator is a realtor and self-identified prepper and outdoor enthusiast but his information and advice are thoughtful and practical. He takes the lists provided by FEMA and the Red Cross and explains why each item is included and provides examples. He also highlights safety considerations that are not normally covered in this type of video. There were no glaring errors that I found and very little that I would change. I'd definitely consider using them in public education. I'm looking forward to checking out some of his other videos.
Professional Development
 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.

The Incident Complexity Guide promotes a common language and shared understanding of incident complexity across the whole community to determine the complexity or difficulty of managing a disaster, incident, event or exercise. Using a common approach and consistent method for determining incident complexity will improve the effectiveness and implementation of NIMS and the National Preparedness System and improve or maintain the qualifications of incident management personnel.
Incident Complexity Guide  

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

FEMA Updates 25 Incident Management Team Job Title/Position Qualifications and Position Task Books

FEMA’s National Integration Center has updated the Job Titles / Position Qualifications and Position Task Books (PTBs) for 25 Incident Management Teams (IMT) positions.

Professional Development Opportunities
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.

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
U.S. Emergency Management in the 21st Century: From Disaster to Catastrophe
by Claire B. Rubin (Editor), Susan L. Cutter (Editor)

U.S. Emergency Management in the 21st Century: From Disaster to Catastrophe explores a critical issue in American public policy: Are the current public sector emergency management systems sufficient to handle future disasters given the environmental and social changes underway? In this timely book, Claire B. Rubin and Susan L. Cutter focus on disaster recovery efforts, community resilience, and public policy issues of related to recent disasters and what they portend for the future.

Beginning with the external societal forces influencing shifts in policy and practice, the next six chapters provide in-depth accounts of recent disasters― the Joplin, Tuscaloosa-Birmingham, and Moore tornadoes, Hurricanes Sandy, Harvey, Irma, Maria, and the California wildfires. The book concludes with a chapter on loss accounting and a summary chapter on what has gone right, what has gone wrong, and why the federal government may no longer be a reliable partner in emergency management.

Accessible and clearly written by authorities in a wide-range of related fields with local experiences, this book offers a rich array of case studies and describes their significance in shifting emergency management policy and practice, in the United States during the past decade. Through a careful blending of contextual analysis and practical information, this book is essential reading for students, an interested public, and professionals alike.
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.
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the author, and "reprinted with permission."
ISSN: 2334-590X