Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
Volume 13 No. 9
September 2021
L. Canton Photo 2013

Welcome to the September edition of Emergency Management Solutions.

This month is, of course, the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2011 attack on the New York World Trade Center and the Pentagon and many of my colleagues have been sharing their experiences of that day. It is a reminder that disasters of all types can have wide ranging impact and affect many who have not been directly affected by the event. It is not hard to see this at first hand as we consider the friends and colleagues we have lost to COVID. It's also the reason so many of us do what we do.

In this month's articles, Tim Riecker takes a look at the issues surrounding the mandates for ICS 400 training. If you want a realistic appraisal on ICS training, I highly recommend you check out his previous articles on ICS available on his blog site. Erik Bernstein suggests five simple tips for staying out of trouble when your conversation or statements are being recorded. George Whitney is back with some thoughts on how to structure your response by better use of incident command posts, department operations centers, and emergency operations centers. This ties in very well with the next offering in my series on why plans fail: the use of operational levels.

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

Why Your Emergency Plan Will Fail: Ignoring Basic Concepts Part 2

n my last post I stressed the importance of applying basic concepts to developing your emergency operations plan, particularly distinguishing between response generated and agent generated needs. Another important concept is that of operational levels.

There are roughly three levels in any response to crisis. The first and most obvious is the tactical level, those actions that directly address the crisis. The next is the operational level that provides support to the tactical level. The final, and most neglected, level is the strategic, where the long-term impact of the crisis is assessed, long range goals are identified, and policies are developed. In simple terms, the strategic level sets the policy direction, the operational manages the overall response, and the tactical implements the actions necessary to achieve the desired results.

Why is this concept so important to planning? It’s because each level has unique planning requirements. Information requirements, operational focus, and even operating structures will vary and a plan that is appropriate for one level may prove ineffective for another.

The tactical level requires very specific planning. Leadership is primarily hierarchical, with decision making centralized in a single command function. Information requirements to support decision making are specific and the more granularity the better. The event horizon is often minutes or, at most, a few hours.

Contrast this with the operational level. Unlike the tactical level that seeks to address an immediate problem, the operational level seeks to jump ahead of the crisis and address anticipated needs. The event horizon is hours and days, and, on occasion, may be even longer. Information requirements focus more on analysis and projections, seeking to understand the “big picture”. Leadership is more about coordination and less about command and control, with decision making being more collaborative.

Where the operational level focuses on anticipated support to the immediate response, the strategic considers the long-range impact of the crisis. The focus is on community restoration and long-term recovery. Information requirements tend to focus on potential changes to demographics, housing, transportation, and the economy...
© 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

ICS 400 Training – Who Really Needs It?

A few days ago I had a bit of discussion with others on Twitter in regard to who actually has a need for ICS 400 training. I think a lot of people are taking the ICS 400 (Advanced ICS for Command and General Staff) course for the wrong reasons. While I’d never dissuade anyone from learning above and beyond what is required, we also, as a general statement, can’t be packing course offerings with people who don’t actually need the training. There is also an organizational expense to sending people to training, and the return on that investment decreases when they don’t need it and won’t apply it. Overall, if you are a new reader, I have a lot of thoughts on why our approach to ICS Training Sucks, which can be found here.

Before we dig any deeper into the topic, let’s have a common understanding of what is covered in the ICS 400 course. The course objectives identified in the National Preparedness Course Catalog for some reason differ from those actually included in the current 2019 version of the course, so instead I’ll list the major topics covered by the two-day course:
  • Incident Complex
  • Dividing into multiple incidents
  • Expanding the Planning Capability
  • Adding a second Operations or Logistics Section
  • Placement options for the Intel/Investigations function
  • Area Command
  • Multi-Agency Coordination
  • Emergency Operations Centers
  • Emergency Support Functions

For this discussion, it’s also important to reference the NIMS Training Program document, released in the summer of 2020. This document states many times over that it includes training recommendations and that the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) determines which personnel are to take which courses. This document indicates the ICS 400 is recommended for:
  1. ICS personnel in leadership/supervisor roles
  2. IMT command, section, branch, division, or group leaders preparing for complex incidents

Note that while #1 above seems to fully capture anyone in a leadership/supervisor role, the document also says that IMT unit, strike team, resource team, or task force leaders preparing for complex incidents do NOT need the training. I’d say this certainly conflicts with #1 above.
© 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

The Roles of EOCs, DOCs and ICPs

My team works with many emergency managers who inherit programs and see an Emergency Operations Plan update as a way to reignite their program. There are better ways to do that, but for those who go the EOP route first, they sometimes get hung-up on organizing who goes where. Frankly, it doesn’t help when Incident Command System (ICS) training is taught to emergency operation center staff by former field responders. It also doesn’t help when a well-intentioned state or federal coordinator says, “your mayor, the governor and the president are now managing this incident in unified command.” Rather, incident command and event management are quite separate operations, and contemporary doctrine really doesn’t distinguish the latter very well. Below is how I explain it.

One of many important functions of an emergency plan is to describe the organization of multiple agencies during an emergency. Larger jurisdictions typically exhibit more complexity. One way to simplify a complex response is to employ emergency operation centers (EOCs), department operation centers (DOCs) and incident command posts (ICPs).

Organizations employ ICPs to better manage field response. A fire battalion chief directing multiple engine crews during a large structure fire or a police sergeant leading a house-to-house search are two examples of incident commanders who establish ICPs to collect information and provide instructions. Other, non-traditional response agencies may assign incident commanders and create their own ICPs. For example, a public works agency may assign a field supervisor or project manager to remove debris from a drainage channel before a flood occurs. When multiple departments or agencies are responsible for an incident and require close coordination (i.e. when fire and law agencies respond to large wildland/urban interface fires), they may also establish Unified Command (UC) to better coordinate the efforts of one or more agency ICPs.

ICPs and UCs manage tactics like extinguishing fire with water or retardant, securing a perimeter or stabilizing and transporting patients. Incident Commanders (ICs) – those who manage ICPs – are automatically selected (i.e. by virtue of being the most senior officer on-scene) or selected by their agency leadership because of their proximity to an incident or a unique skill or experience they possess...
© 2020 - George Whitney
Used with permission

George Whitney has over 25 years of experience in emergency and technology program management, including appointments at the local, state, and federal government levels. He 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

Crisis Communications Tips for Recorded Talks

Tough conversations with clients are a part of doing business in any vertical, and how you handle them can make the difference between someone leaving with a great impression of your brand, ready to pass on the good word, or making sure to savage your reputation online and off.

To add to that, today you have the added twist of everyone carrying a high definition recording device right in their pocket or purse in the form of a phone, and widespread knowledge of how to get that footage online.
This means that, like it or not, a volatile conversation with a single individual can suddenly represent – in the public eye – how your brand handles conversation with every client.

If this thought makes you break out in sweat you’re not alone, but the panic doesn’t have to be permanent. Try these Crisis Communications Tips for Recorded Talks from our team of expert consultants on for size:
  1. Have a plan. Even the best speakers are going to have a bad time if they walk into a tough room and wing it. Know what you want your audience to come away remembering and how you’ll get them there. Remember they may not believe you on reputation alone, don’t be offended when they want to see facts, figures, or outside data to support your points.
  2. Express compassion. Have you ever attempted to resolve an argument with someone close to you using pure logic, without addressing or acknowledging their emotions? How’d that turn out? From an outsider’s perspective, consider what about the situation would have you feeling concerned, scared, or angry. Then, think about how your words, body language, and tone can address those feelings.You shouldn’t admit fault where there is none, but you can say things like, “We do this job because we love helping _____.”, “As a _____ I know how hard it is to deal with _____…”, or similar in order to help connect with your audience and open them up to having a productive conversation.
  3. Avoid jargon or technical terms. Yes, you’re neck deep in your field every day, but your audience isn’t. Even seemingly simple terms that are used commonly in your industry can be confusing and...
© 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
Built to Serve: The Story of Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon is an International non-government organization (NGO) founded by U.S. Marines William McNulty and Jacob "Jake" Wood. Team Rubicon identifies itself as a disaster response organization that leverages the unique skillsets of veterans and first responders to help disaster victims while using service and camaraderie to help veterans gain community, a sense of purpose, and identity to promote transition to civilian life.

Since its founding in 2010, Team Rubicon has deployed on over 500 operations both in the US and abroad. With the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic, Team Rubicon USA expanded its operational focus to include feeding programs in conjunction with other relief organizations. Team Rubicon also conducts wildfire mitigation operations.
Professional Development
New Edition Released: Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 101: Developing and Maintaining Emergency Operations Plans

FEMA has just released version 3 of CPG 101. You can download a copy here. Be sure to also download the accompanying document Compilation of Checklists. FEMA will host a series of 60-minute webinar sessions to discuss the update and key changes to CPG 101 with whole community partners. Advance registration is required and on a first-come, first-served basis.

While there are not a lot of changes in the new document, there are some significant improvements. Tim Riecker has this to say about the new document:

The changes that are included in the new document are meaningful, with an emphasis on including accessibility concepts in plans; and references to current practices and standards, such as new and updated planning guides, CPG 201 (THIRA), Community Lifelines, and more. It even highlights a couple of lessons learned from the COVID 19 pandemic. I’m particularly pleased to see Appendix D: Enhancing Inclusiveness in EOPs, which I think is an excellent resource, though more links to other resources, of which there are many, should be provided in this appendix.

You can find the more of Tim's analysis of the new CPG 101 here.

FEMA Releases NIMS National Qualification System Implementation Objectives Fact Sheet

The National Qualification System (NQS) Implementation Objectives reflect the concepts and principles to promote consistency in the NQS implementation nationwide. The Objectives provides guidance for implementation in the Fiscal Year 2021 Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) Notice of Funding Opportunity.

The implementation objective sets the standards for compliance and provide additional guidance for implementing the National Qualification System recommendations in the FY 2021 EMPG funding notice. EMPG recipients are required to implement National Qualification System components with their grant funding. Beginning in fiscal year 2022, FEMA intends to make the implementing the National Qualification System a requirement for receiving EMPG funding. Jurisdictions will need to achieve, or work toward achieving, each of the objectives.

The objectives aim to develop organizational qualification procedures, certification program and credentialing standards in alignment with the National Incident Management System Guideline for the National Qualification System. These indicators serve as actionable activities that jurisdictions can use to demonstrate National Qualification System implementation. The indicators are a tool to assist jurisdictions and organizations in meeting the new implementation objectives.

FEMA plans to release a supplemental Frequently Asked Questions document for the NQS Implementation Objectives in fiscal year 2022.

FEMA Releases Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Positions

FEMA has released National Qualification System (NQS) Job Titles/Position Qualifications and Position Task Books (PTBs) for three CERT positions:

  • CERT Chief - a volunteer who is responsible for a specific functional area within the CERT
  • CERT Team Leader - a volunteer part of a CERT who directs team activities
  • CERT Volunteer - a volunteer who is a part of a CERT and trains in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations

These resource typing documents will facilitate the sharing of deployable CERT positions at all jurisdictional levels.

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.

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
Once a Warrior: How One Veteran Found a New Mission Closer to Home
by Jake Wood

From Marine sniper Jake Wood, a riveting memoir of leading over 100,000 veterans to a life of renewed service, volunteering to battle hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, pandemics, and civil wars, and inspiring onlookers as their unique military training saved lives and rebuilt our country.

When Jake Wood arrived in the States after two grueling tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he watched his unit lose more men to suicide than to enemy hands overseas. Reeling, Jake looked for a way to direct their restlessness towards a new mission--and put their formidable skills to good use. When an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, Jake had his answer. He convinced several fellow veterans to join him on a ragtag mission to provide desperately needed aid. Despite the high stakes, they were able to untangle complex problems quickly and keep calm under pressure.

In this raw, adrenaline-filled narrative, Jake recounts, how, over the past 10 years, he's built the disaster response organization Team Rubicon, and seen the work provide a lifeline back to purpose for the heroes among us. Not only do these intrepid volunteers race against the clock to aid communities after Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Harvey, COVID-19, and hundreds of other disasters; they also fight for something just as important--each other.

Once a Warrior provides a soaring look at what our veterans are capable of--and what might become of America's next greatest generation.
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