Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
Volume 13 No. 11
November 2021
L. Canton Photo 2013

Welcome to the November edition of Emergency Management Solutions.

In the United States this is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving, a national holiday. There's a lot of mythology around the origins of the holiday and one can even see it as a reflection of the traditional harvest festivals of pagan times. However, for most of us it is a time to reflect on the many blessings we have received. Emergency managers tend to be future thinkers; we see how things could be made better and try make them so. Consequently, we are never really satisfied with the present. I urge you to take time to stop and look behind for a short while and see how far you've come. You'll be surprised and have something to be thankful about.

In this month's featured articles Tim Riecker looks at the importance of developing essential "soft" skills, something I wholeheartedly endorse. George Whitney offers some seasonal advice on preparing for winter storms through exercises. Erik Bernstein reviews some common customer service failures, something we sometimes neglect in emergency management. My own article this month deals with issues arising from trying to operationalize the Comprehensive Emergency Management model.

To all my friends and colleagues who celebrate Thanksgiving, my yours be joyful and meaningful.

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

By Lucien Canton

Why Your Emergency Plan Will Fail: Sequential Planning

The development of the Comprehensive Emergency Management model by the National Governors’ Association in 1979 was a major step forward for modern emergency management. It was the first attempt to define emergency management in a holistic way that integrated the various functions related to disaster. It influenced the development of FEMA and forms the basis for much of our current emergency management practices.

Unfortunately, it has also created some problems for emergency planners. In using the term “phases” the framers of the CEM document were referring to clusters of “emergency-related activities…that are related by time and function to all types of disasters.” This was an attempt to group categories of like activities to identify relationships among them. It was not an attempt to define how disasters unfold.

Why is this a problem? Approaching a disaster with a preconceived idea of how it will progress can lead to poor decision making through cognitive biases such as confirmation or overconfidence biases. It can lead to confusion if phases are used as operational triggers that generate competition for resources and conflict over leadership roles.
© 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

Soft Skills Are Hard to Find

Across emergency management, dependent upon specific jobs, we certainly need to apply a lot of technical skillsets. So often, though, soft skills are dismissed, which is quite ironic given that soft skills are really the foundation of what emergency managers need given our emphasis on communication, collaboration, and coordination.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, soft skills are things that are generally applicable to various types of work. These include things like communication, writing, leadership, teamwork, problem solving, organizing, time management, and others. These are skills generally expected of any working professional. They can be honed, but often require some innate ability. Soft skills are different from hard skills, which are those that tend to be more technical and industry specific. These are also generally something acquired more through learning and less dependent upon innate ability.

FEMA’s Professional Development Series (PDS) used to be a cornerstone of emergency management training. Many state emergency management training programs had an emphasis on these courses and the content they provided. The PDS offered soft skills courses, such as Effective Communication, Decision Making and Problem Solving, and Leadership alongside training on topics more so focused on emergency management topics.
© 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.
Complete EM

By George Whitney

Winter storms sometimes evoke memories of emergency operations center (EOC) activations. The activations take time away from family and can stress relationships ‒ especially when the power is out at home and a spouse learns the EOC is “enjoying” generator power, catered food and plenty of television. The storms are often slow-moving and far-reaching. They occur over several hours or days. They involve many people.

Winter storms provide some of the best moderate difficulty and impact exercises a jurisdiction can experience. The hazard is provided courtesy of Mother Nature, so there are no nefarious characters to apprehend, motives to consider, fault to assign, or the urgency to respond that accompanies other emergencies. They usually unfold with plenty of warning. Emergency managers have time to anticipate impacts, activate teams and pre-position (or at least alert) resources. When impacts occur, they typically happen in familiar locations (i.e. low-lying flood areas) or in typical ways (i.e. power outages or fallen trees). 
© 2020 - George Whitney
Used with permission

George Whitney is the founder and CEO of Complete EM, a web-based collection of tools and complementary approaches that help emergency managers assess their programs, organize program improvement efforts, and complete necessary projects 
Bernstein Crisis Management

By Erik Bernstein

The 5 Top Crisis-Causing Mistakes in Customer Service
The front desk person at a financial services firm I visited some time ago had a marvelous title on her nameplate, “Director of First Impressions.”

She knew that she was in a make or break position for her firm, that initial opinions of new clients may well be influenced by how she treated them – even if they were having a bad day. In fact, especially when they were having a bad day.

Unfortunately, at too many organizations, the people on the “front desk” of their online operations don’t understand this. And you know the phone call someone in the C-Suite ends up making, eventually? It’s to a firm like ours, and what we hear is, ““We have horrible reviews, they’re hurting our reputation and our organization, can you help?”

Of course we say, “yes” (for a price), but the fact is most such calls for assistance could have been avoided completely. These are...

© 2020 - Jonathan 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
Hearing: Ensuring Equity in Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery

Disaster researchers and professionals have long realized that certain populations bear disproportionate disaster impacts and are less able to access resources to prepare for and recover from extreme events. Recently, four disaster experts testified in front of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Homeland Security about known biases in disaster-related programs, the work being done to address them, and future directions to promote equity. The experts included Natural Hazards Center Director Lori Peek, Chauncia Willis of the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management, Christopher Currie of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), and James Joseph of Tidal Basin.

If you'd prefer not to watch the full video of the hearing, I encourage you to read a summary of the key points raised in the hearing in an article by Jolie Breeden of the Natural Hazards Center Ensuring Equity: Lawmakers Examine Systemic Issues in Federal Disaster Programs. The article includes links to the prepared statements of the interviewees that are definitely worth taking the time to read.
Professional Development
The structure of federal disaster recovery programs can marginalize households that have limited resources and create disproportionate recoveries in the areas that can least afford them. Locations with more marginalized people are likely to become economically worse off after disaster, while areas with more privileged populations are poised to receive greater benefits from disaster assistance. This article summarizes research done on FEMA's Individual and Households Program which examined data from the contiguous 48 states from 2006 to 2018 and found that IHP may not be reaching the places that most need federal aid to manage the impacts of disasters.

Forest Service releases Reset: Firefighter and Family Members’ Reintegration Guide
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (USDA Forest Service) has released a new resource to support wildland firefighters and their families, entitled Reset: Firefighter and Family Members’ Reintegration Guide.
Wildland firefighting personnel must navigate a significant transition after the end of an assignment or wildfire season. The adjustment from spending weeks or months at a time on the road as part of a high-functioning wildland firefighting team to reunification with family, friends, and daily routines can be challenging. The Reset Guide is intended to provide acknowledgement, affirmation, and support regarding the need for an adjustment period. It is not prescriptive, nor does it set any standards or mandates.

FEMA requests feedback on 24 fire management and suppression resource typing documents
FEMA’s National Integration Center is seeking public feedback on 24 Fire Management and Suppression documents. This 30-day national engagement period will conclude at 5 p.m. ET on Dec. 10, 2021.
These resource typing documents enhance the interoperability and effectiveness of mutual aid by establishing baseline qualifications for Fire Management and Suppression National Incident Management System-typed teams, personnel and equipment. This facilitates the sharing of deployable resources at all jurisdictional levels.
Professional Development Opportunities
Broomfield, Colorado
July 10-13, 2022
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.

Savannah, GA
Nov 11-18, 2022
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
Children of Katrina
by Alice Fothergill and Lori Peek

When children experience upheaval and trauma, adults often view them as either vulnerable and helpless or as resilient and able to easily “bounce back.” But the reality is far more complex for the children and youth whose lives are suddenly upended by disaster. How are children actually affected by catastrophic events and how do they cope with the damage and disruption? Children of Katrina offers one of the only long-term, multiyear studies of young people following disaster. Sociologists Alice Fothergill and Lori Peek spent seven years after Hurricane Katrina interviewing and observing several hundred children and their family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, and other caregivers. In this book, they focus intimately on seven children between the ages of three and eighteen, selected because they exemplify the varied experiences of the larger group. They find that children followed three different post-disaster trajectories―declining, finding equilibrium, and fluctuating―as they tried to regain stability. The children’s moving stories illuminate how a devastating disaster affects individual health and well-being, family situations, housing and neighborhood contexts, schooling, peer relationships, and extracurricular activities. This work also demonstrates how outcomes were often worse for children who were vulnerable and living in crisis before the storm. Fothergill and Peek clarify what kinds of assistance children need during emergency response and recovery periods, as well as the individual, familial, social, and structural factors that aid or hinder children in getting that support.
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 2021. All rights reserved.
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the author, and "reprinted with permission."
ISSN: 2334-590X