Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
Volume 13 No.2
February 2021
L. Canton Photo 2013

Welcome to the February edition of Emergency Management Solutions.

Like many of my colleagues I was greatly saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Dennis Mileti earlier this month due to COVID. He was, of course, one of the great thought leaders of our profession but those of us who had the privilege to know him valued him as much for his practical, no-nonsense approach to emergency management, his sense of humor, and his passion. This month's video and book recommendation highlight just two of his many contributions to our profession. He will be greatly missed.

On the plus side, I am delighted to announce the addition of a new contributor to Emergency Management Solutions. Jim Dudley is a veteran of the San Francisco Police Department with whom I had the privilege of working when I was the Director of Emergency Services. Jim hopes to foster a better working relationship between emergency managers and local law enforcement by sharing his perspectives on joint operations and planning. I think you'll find his articles extremely useful.

This month, Tim Riecker offers his perspective on FEMA's recent report on lessons learned from the agency's response to COVID-19. Erik Bernstein shares a case study on how the internet and social media can be used to counter reputational risk. My own contribution includes some thoughts about some of the impacts we may see from COVID-19 and future planning considerations.

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

Where Do We Go From Here? Learning From COVID

One of the unique demands on emergency managers is the need to set disasters in context, to view the big picture even while engaged in immediate response. We need to be able to both look to our current experience to glean important lessons for future response and, at the same time, to try to project potential long-range impacts of the current crisis.

There are two things that both experience and research teach us. The first is that all disasters have ripple effects that produce both short and long-term changes. The second is that memories are short and the further we are from a disaster, the more inclined we are to forget the lessons we have learned. This means that our response to short-term impacts tend to fade over time and there is pressure to return to pre-disaster conditions.

If we look at historical pandemics, it’s relatively easy to identify their long-term impacts. I’ve written elsewhere about the impact of the Black Death on the economy of Europe. The flu pandemic of 1918 brought about major changes in how doctors are trained and licensed in the United States. This not unexpected. Pandemics are, like most major disasters, focusing events that highlight potential policy failures, and by nature precipitate major changes. The challenge is in recognizing changes that are likely to fade over time and those with long range consequences.

In considering COVID-19, I believe the first casualty will be, of course, social distancing. While there will be public pressure to maintain some safeguards, simple economics will ultimately drive us to eliminate many of the protective measures we have put in place. Consider restaurants, for example. As we reopen, we may see initial public expectation driving limited occupancy. However, the need for economic recovery will eventually push us towards permitting full occupancy.

Those safeguards that survive will be those that offer an economic advantage. Businesses are recognizing that a remote workforce offers cheaper access to talent, increased diversity, and significant savings in infrastructure. In my own city of San Francisco, many large corporations have committed to full or predominately remote workforces and have begun to either lease out or divest themselves of unused office space. This has led to an exodus of both company headquarters that are no longer tethered to the need to recruit a highly skilled local work force and to employees who are taking the opportunity to move to areas with a cheaper cost of living.
The Contrarian Emergency Manager
By Timothy "Tim" Riecker

FEMA’s First Lessons Learned From COVID-19

FEMA recently released the Pandemic Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Initial Assessment Report (January – September 2020). The report has many elements of a traditional after-action report. The authors reinforce that the report only evaluates FEMA’s response, not those of other agencies or entities. That said, emergency management, by nature is collaborative and FEMA’s interactions with other agencies and entities are cited as necessary. The report covers five primary areas of evaluation:

  1. Coordinating Structures and Policy
  2. Resources
  3. Supporting State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial (SLTT) Partners
  4. Preparedness and Information Analysis
  5. Organizational Resilience

Also, with similarity to a traditional after-action report, this report provides a table of key findings and recommendations as Appendix A.

Here are some of my primary observations:

Following the executive summary is a the COVID-19 Pandemic Overview, which is a well-constructed piece providing a combined narrative timeline and topical highlights, providing information and context to the pandemic and the response, as well as some of the complexities encountered. While the report does well to acknowledge the myriad disasters that SLTT partners and federal agencies responded to over 2020, I find it shameful that they very obviously ignore the societal impacts of the US political climate (related to the pandemic and otherwise) as well as events surrounding the BLM movement. I firmly believe this report should fully acknowledge these factors and could have done so without itself making a political statement. These were important, impactful, and far-reaching, certainly influencing the operating environment, public information, and other very real facets of the response. I feel that the exclusion of these factors leaves this report incomplete.
© 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
Critical Planning for High-profile Events

The intent of this article is to provide guidance to law enforcement executives and planners responsible for planning the policing of high-profile events, rather than a criticism of how law enforcement handled events at the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.

I sympathize with those few dozen officers isolated on the Capitol Hill steps and inside the building who were expected to deal with the hundreds who mobbed and infiltrated the building. While I have seen squads of police officers overrun at spontaneous events, I cannot recall such a fracas at a known and planned event such as the confirmation of the Presidential election vote count.

So what tools are available for police when planning a response to high-profile events?

The most basic plans and objectives for planning and managing events and incidents are included in the Incident Command System (ICS) ICS 300 Module.

FEMA offers free online courses to train law enforcement, allied agencies and others in the planning process to speak the same language, to know roles and responsibilities, to learn how to plan within a department for small events and to learn how to organize multi-agency coordination for large-scale event response.
© 2021 - James Dudley
Used with permission

James Dudley is a 32-year veteran of the San Francisco Police Department, retiring as deputy chief of the Patrol Bureau. As the DC of Special Operations and Liaison to the Department of Emergency Management he served as Event and Incident Commander for a variety of incidents, operations and emergencies. He is on the Criminal Justice faculty at San Francisco State University, consults on organizational assessments for LE agencies and hosts the Policing Matters podcast for Police1.
Bernstein Crisis Management
By Erik Bernstein

Katherine Heigl Puts Grassroots Crisis Management To Work In Hollywood Return

Once you’ve been in this business long enough you can’t seem to avoid spotting crisis management lessons everywhere. While perusing the latest entertainment news and celeb gossip (give me a break on that one, it can’t be Fortune 500 and international intrigue all the time people), I was surprised to spot valuable insights in a Washington Post article about Katherine Heigl’s return to Hollywood. For those who haven’t been keeping up, here’s a quick summary of how Heigl’s reputation went from positive to “difficult”, as described by the Post:

Yes, she did brand her 2007 Judd Apatow comedy “Knocked Up” “a little sexist” and lamented that it painted women as uptight “shrews.” Yes, one year after winning an Emmy for her role as Izzie Stevens on “Grey’s Anatomy,” Heigl abstained from 2008 awards consideration because she “did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination.” And yes, she complained about working a 17-hour day on “Grey’s” in 2009, when her own schedule was possibly to blame. It was a spate of comments and actions that many decided collectively painted a picture of the worst kind of woman: a difficult one.

“At the time, I was just quickly told to shut the f— up. The more I said I was sorry, the more they wanted it,” she said. “The more terrified and scared I was of doing something wrong, the more I came across like I had really done something horribly wrong.”

This is a common trap many people facing crisis situations fall into, and it’s not hard to see why. There’s a fine line between over-sharing 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
PrepTalks: Dr. Dennis Mileti "Modernizing Public Warning Messaging"

This PrepTalk by Dr. Dennis Mileti is typical of his presentations: straight talk backed up by his many years of research. I was always amazed at how he could distill complex issues down to simple actions and the amount of information he could convey in a short time. This presentation contains practical information on how to make your public warning messages more effective. It is a reminder of how much we will feel his loss.

You can download a discussion guide for this talk and Dr. Mileti's bio at the FEMA website.
Professional Development
FEMA Proposed Rule on Disaster Declarations
On December 14, 2020, FEMA published a proposed rule titled "Cost of Assistance Estimates in the Disaster Declaration Process for the Public Assistance Program." In order to comply with sections 1232 and 1239 of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 (DRRA), FEMA proposed to revise the estimated cost of assistance disaster declaration factor that is used to evaluate a governor’s request for a major disaster under the Public Assistance Program. The proposed revisions would more accurately assess states’ disaster response capabilities and comply with the DRRA requirement for FEMA to review and update its disaster declaration factors.

IAEM-USA has submitted comments to FEMA in opposition to the proposed revision to the Disaster Declaration Factor of the Public Assistance Program. IAEM-USA President Judson Freed, CEM, will participate in a public meeting on Feb. 24, 2021, on this topic. 

In short, IAEM-USA feels there are legitimate policy questions related to the per-capita indicator and the declarations process, but FEMA's proposed change, coming as it does when state and local budgets are already stretched to the breaking point, is ill-timed. IAEM-USA urges FEMA to withdraw this misguided proposal and start over once COVID is behind us and the economy regains some balance. Then, and only then, should FEMA, Capitol Hill, and state and local stakeholders representing the whole of America consider this as part of a comprehensive effort to reduce the costs of disasters to the federal government in a way that does not bankrupt state and local governments.

Written comments on the proposed rule may be submitted until 11:59 P.M. EST on Friday, March 12, 2021 and must be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at https://www.regulations.gov

Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Initial Assessment Report
FEMA’s Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Initial Assessment Report evaluates FEMA’s COVID-19 response operations. The report identifies key findings in five areas and provides targeted recommendations based on the findings. The report covers January 2020 through September 2020, and primarily focuses on the March 18, 2020, through September 30, 2020, timeframe when FEMA was designated lead for federal operations coordination. The report does not evaluate other federal agencies or state, local, tribal or territorial partners.

The Initial Assessment Report is a collaborative product of the agency across all 10 FEMA regions and field offices in the affected states, tribes and territories.

FEMA Seeks Public Feedback for Two USAR and Fixed Wing/Disaster Reconnaissance Resource Typing Documents
The FEMA National Integration Center is seeking public feedback on two Resource Typing Job Titles/Position Qualifications documents. The resource typing documents include an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Incident Support Team (IST) and a Fixed Wing Search/Disaster Reconnaissance Team. To provide comments on the drafts, complete the feedback forms and submit the forms to fema-nims@fema.dhs.gov no later than 5 p.m. ET on March 2, 2021.
Professional Development Opportunities
2020 IAEM Annual Conference On Demand
It's not too late too enjoy over 40 hours of training sessions from the 2020 IAEM virtual conference. Video sessions are available on demand until April 16 for only $199, $99 for students. Register here.

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.

June 8-10, 2021
Emergency Management Institute
National Emergency Training Center, Emmitsburg, MD

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
Disasters by Design: A Reassessment of Natural Hazards in the United States
by Dennis Mileti

Disasters by Design provides an alternative and sustainable way to view, study, and manage hazards in the United States that would result in disaster-resilient communities, higher environmental quality, inter- and intragenerational equity, economic sustainability, and improved quality of life. This volume provides an overview of what is known about natural hazards, disasters, recovery, and mitigation, how research findings have been translated into policies and programs; and a sustainable hazard mitigation research agenda. Also provided is an examination of past disaster losses and hazards management over the past 20 years, including demographic, climate, and social factors that influence loss.
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