Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
Volume 12 No.9
September 2020
L. Canton Photo 2013

Welcome to the September edition of Emergency Management Solutions.

In a recent blog post I commented on the 14th and 6th centuries as being bad times to be alive. But 2020 is certainly ranking up there as the year from hell. Between plague, wildfires, hurricanes, tropical storms, political unrest, and floods, it seems as if we just can't catch a break. We're being forced to adapt to multiple simultaneous events and extreme sustained operations and are being challenged as never before. But as i reminded people in that same blog post, this too shall pass and we will get through it.

As I write this, new fires have just started in my home state of California, so my article this month provides a bit of background on why we have such a serious fire threat. Tim Riecker devotes this month's column to how COVID-19 is affecting how we conduct planning and offers some suggestions for how we can adapt. In his article, Eric Bernstein reminds us about the importance of communicating with our clients and reminding them that we're still in business.

Be well!
Lucien Canton
Featured Articles
Canton On Emergency Management
California Wildfires
Who Is at Fault?
By Lucien G. Canton

At the time of this writing, wildfires in California have burned over three and a half million acres, almost 4% of the state’s 105 million acres, making this the deadliest recorded fire season in California history. Sadly, this fire season still has over three months to go until the official end in December and, hopefully, the start of the rainy season.

On a recent visit to California, the President blamed the fires on the state’s failure to adequately manage its fire risk. But the wildfires, like most disasters, cannot be blamed on a single cause. The contributing causes are many and the issues complex, making the fixing of blame difficult.

Climate and Climate Change

California is essentially a desert state. While the official version is that the state is named for the goddess Califia, folklore claims that it is a corruption of the Spanish phrase, “caliente forno” or “hot furnace”. While climate varies throughout the state’s geographical regions, inland temperatures can exceed 100°F during the summer and the state is subject to prolonged periods of drought lasting several years.
Exploring Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Preparedness in the Pandemic Age
By Timothy "Tim" Riecker

Planning, training, and exercises, as the foundational activities of preparedness, shouldn’t be stopping because of the pandemic. Preparedness is an ongoing activity which needs to forge ahead with little disruption – and there is always plenty to do! What must we do, though, to accommodate necessary precautions in the age of the Pandemic?

Let’s talk about planning first. The biggest relevant issue for planning is the conduct of stakeholder meetings. These may be larger group meetings to discuss and get buy-in on broader topics, or detailed small-group meetings to discuss very specific topics. Information, sometimes sensitive, is exchanged, presentations are given, and documents are reviewed. I’ve mentioned in various posts through the years the importance of properly preparing for meetings. Even for traditional in-person meetings, there are important things to consider, such as:
  1. Do you really need a meeting?
  2. Developing an agenda
  3. Having the right people in attendance
  4. Ensuring that all speakers and presenters are prepared
  5. Ensuring that all attendees are prepared to discuss the subject matter
  6. An adequate meeting space and support (technology, dry erase boards, etc)

All of these rules still apply in a virtual world, perhaps with even more emphasis. While we’ve obviously had video meeting technology for a long time, we’ve discovered this year that many people haven’t used it much or at all until earlier this year. The surge in use has also brought attention to the plethora of tools which can be facilitated through video conference.
While the simple sharing of video supports most of our meeting needs, we can share screens...
© 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

Are you ignoring the power of proactive positive crisis communications?

By Erik Bernstein

“And there’s still a lot of faith, warmth, and trust
When we keep on keeping on”
Curtis Mayfield, Musician
“Keep On Keeping On”

As we head into the last days of Q3 2020 the year shows no signs of slowing down. With months of experience under their belts, organizations that invested in preparedness and practice early on are becoming quite used to operating under ‘COVID law’ with its increased operational limitations. For them, the challenge has become one of, “How do we sustain this, possibly for many more months, until we can begin to return to normalcy?”

And, while there’s no doubt as to the importance of continuing to put product in front of potential buyers, we’re seeing a trend of organizations out there forgetting what may be the most important piece of ‘Keepin On’ during an extended crisis event, namely letting people know things are still OK!

Just look at your own workforce. Most folk have been incredibly adaptive, and work is getting done in droves even if we’re all dealing with the occasional exuberant child or proudly vocal dog in the background, but make no bones about it, people are stressed out.

Same for your customers, clients, and business partners. Many organizations have found ways to make things work, but for others there has been no option but to limit services or even shutter doors for good, leaving plenty of room for worry among those who rely on you being open day-to-day.

Now let me ask you — when was the last time you sent out a message with these vital audiences sharing that you’re okay, that your plans are holding strong, and that you have trust in your team to carry things forward? It may seem simple, but it’s a crisis prevention measure that’s worth far more than the time investment it requires.

If there’s an essential fact you want people to remember you need to keep putting it in front of them or the brain will naturally let it slide on out. Let people know you’re keepin on, keep it up, and you’ll be better positioned to maintain the level of “faith, warmth, and trust” that will carry you through any crisis situation.
© 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
High Risk/Low Frequency Events in the Fire Service

If you ever get the chance to hear risk analyst Gordon Graham speak, don't miss it. There are two reasons why. The first is his ability to simplify risk analysis into practical techniques that can be readily applied to your workplace. The second reason is less obvious: he is one of the best public speakers I have seen and you can learn a lot from studying his technique. This short video demonstrates both of these. Listen to what he says about identifying high risk/low frequency issues and why they pose the greatest risk. Then replay the video and study his use of humor and anecdotes, his lack of dependence on visual aids such as PowerPoint, and his use of language and pauses. You can learn a lot.

Graham and his team at Lexipol offer a number of free resources on their website such as a blog, case studies, and short "Tip of the Day" videos. They're geared primarily to first responders, but there are a number of topics that are useful to emergency managers as well.
Professional Development
FEMA Releases COVID-19 Supplement to Planning Consideration: Evacuations and Shelter-in-Place 
FEMA released a planning supplement to help communities plan for evacuations and shelter-in-place operations during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. The COVID-19 Supplement for Planning Considerations: Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place supports and builds off of Planning Considerations: Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place, released in 2019.

Evacuation and shelter-in-place protective actions are prompted by a variety of threats and hazards. As communities continue to face threats and hazards that may warrant the use of these protective actions, many jurisdictions across the nation are also facing widespread concerns and impacts due to COVID-19. The supplement provides COVID-19 related questions to key principles and critical considerations from the 2019 Planning Considerations: Evacuation and Shelter-in-Place.

These questions can assist emergency management planners as they review, revise and implement evacuation or shelter-in-place plans. The supplement focuses on ensuring planners take in consideration the potential impacts and constraints resulting from COVID-19 and make necessary adjustments in order to ensure continuity of essential functions and services.
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
It's The End of the World!

In 1978, historian Barbara Tuchman published a book called A Distant Mirror: the Calamitous 14th Century that provided a portrait of Western Europe in the 1300's. Tuchman's premise was that the 14th century in many ways reflected the social...

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 ...

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From The Bookshelf
Five Fires: Race, Catastrophe, And The Shaping Of California
by David Wyatt

Contrary to the title, this is not a book about fires. Wyatt uses fire as a metaphor for events that are both destructive and transforming in the history of California: the accidental introduction of the wild oat, the Gold Rush, the 1906 San Francisco, the post-World War II defense industry boom, and turbulent race relations.

However, Wyatt is not a historian in the general sense of the word. Instead he is a "cultural historian" and a professor of English. His history, therefore, is couched in the literature and culture of the time he is considering and he sometimes wanders far afield. His chapter on the 1906 earthquake, for example, does not actually discuss the earthquake but it instead touches briefly on how the destruction of municipal records affected Chinese immigration before a lengthy discussion of the impact of the photographs of Arnold Genthe and Ansel Adams. His chapter on the construction of the California aqueduct and water politics is built around examples from the movie, "Chinatown".

Emergency managers looking for information on the impact of catastrophes will be disappointed in this book. However, it is well written and provides an interesting cultural history on the impact of key events on the people who lived through them. By the skillful use of the literature of the times, Wyatt allows them to speak. The thread of racism that ties the book together certainly has lessons for our time.
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 2020. 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