Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
Volume 15 No. 2
February 2023
L. Canton Photo 2013

Welcome to the February edition of Emergency Management Solutions.

What a month! A major earthquake in Turkey and Syria that killed over 50,000 people and reminds us of the importance of mitigation and the need for a multinational response to catastrophic disasters. A flood in Mozambique affected over 30,000 people, killing 4. In just the past week alone, Indonesia and the Philippines have experienced 24 local disasters, mainly flooding. Even the San Francisco Bay Area got hit by snow, something that hasn't happened since 1976 and, while not on a par by any means with other disasters worldwide, is something for which we are definitely not prepared.

In this month's featured articles, Tim Riecker reviews the 2022 National Preparedness Report and Erik Bernstein describes how many of the "rules" we ascribe to the media are actually non-existent. Think you can ignore politics because you're an emergency manager? Read my article this month and consider changing your opinion.

Be well!
Lucien Canton
Featured Articles
L. Canton Photo 2013

Canton on Emergency Management

By Lucien G. Canton, CEM

Politics and the Emergency Manager
“I don’t play politics!” How many times have you heard this expression or said it yourself? I know I have. Emergency managers like to consider themselves apolitical, that we provide relief to those in need and base our planning on the best available evidence without regard to political agendas. The truth is that politics is an integral and necessary part of the emergency manager’s job. You may not think you play politics, but it certainly plays you.

Leaving aside national politics, which is in itself a major topic for discussion, consider the fact that many local emergency managers work directly for elected officials. For example, in California the defacto director of emergency services for a county is the sheriff unless otherwise stipulated by law. My own position in San Francisco was as a political appointee to the mayor. In such a situation, the minimum expectation is that you at least support the policies of the elected official for whom you work. There may also be pressure to take an active part in political campaigns.
© 2023 - Lucien G. Canton

Lucien Canton is a management 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

The 2022 National Preparedness Report – Another Failure in Reporting

As with past years, FEMA gifts us the annual National Preparedness Report for the prior year around the holidays. Some reminders: 1) You can find my reviews of the reports of prior years here. 2) To get copies of the reports of prior years, FEMA archives these in the unrestricted side of the Homeland Security Digital Library. 3) Each report is derived from data from the year prior, so this December 2022 report actually covers the calendar year of 2021.
Compared to last year’s report, this year’s follows much of the same format, with sections on risk, capabilities, and management opportunities. They appropriately moved some of the content in this year’s report to appendices, which helps each of the sections get more to the point.

Last year’s report was on a kick of catastrophic risk, committing what I think was an excessive amount of content to data on large-scale disasters. While we should certainly plan for the worst, most areas do a mediocre job at best with preparing for, mitigating against, responding to, and recovering from mid-sized disasters. If they can’t manage all aspects of these, it’s not even realistic for them to be able to manage the largest that nature, terrorists, or accidents can throw at us. This year’s report has a much better focus on risk, threat, and hazards; with some reflection on THIRA/SPR data from 2021, grounded realities of climate change, and some time given to cybersecurity and infrastructure. In line with the FEMA strategic plan (and continuing from last year’s report), this year’s report also discusses equity, social vulnerability, and risk exposure; with reference to social vulnerability measures (of which I’m a big fan).
© 2023 - Timothy Riecker, CEDP
Used with Permission

Tim Riecker 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

by Erik Bernstein
5 Puzzling Aspects of Media Relations

Through decades of work assisting with media-related crisis communications and media training spokespeople who are facing daunting tasks like live nationwide news interviews, we’ve come to realize that many people assume there are a standard set of rules which all reporters must follow. In truth, most of these “rules” — things like actually keeping ‘off the record’ comments, well, off the record — simply don’t exist!

Now, I’m not saying every reporter is out to trick and trap their way into a good story. There are absolutely still professionals out there doing their best to present accurate information and balanced coverage. However, it would be denying reality to say that a shortened news cycle and demand for 24/7 coverage hasn’t resulted in some frustrating realities. The list below doesn’t describe every interaction with reporters, but when you’re in crisis management mode we’d rather you assume they’re true than be caught unaware.

  1. A reporter has the right to challenge anything you say or write but will bristle when you try to do the same to them. Not only are they trying to extract the most information possible, but challenging statements provides great opportunity to draw out a “GOTCHA” moment when something doesn’t quite line up. Expect your statements to be challenged, and come prepared with facts, figures, and outside opinions to back yourself up. Falling into the trap of speculation or dishonesty is tempting but steer clear if you want to survive the interview intact. On the flip side, while there are some cases where it makes sense to challenge a reporter mid-interview it’s difficult to do in a way that can’t be used to make you look combative and obstinate by a bristly reporter with creative editors.
© 2023 - Erik Bernstein
Used with permission

Erik Bernstein is President of Bernstein Crisis Management, a specialized firm dedicated to providing holistic strategies for managing crisis situations.
Featured Video
The Science Behind the Massive Turkey-Syria Earthquakes

Powerful earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria, causing thousands of deaths in Turkey’s worst seismic event in decades. The many fault lines in the region make earthquakes common.

WSJ explains why the meeting of three tectonic plates under the region mean there may be more earthquakes along the fault lines.
Professional Development
Free Webinar Series

The Natural Hazards Center, in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is pleased to present the Making Mitigation Work Webinar Series. These free one-hour webinars feature innovative speakers and highlight progress in mitigation policy, practice, and research.

Save the dates for future Making Mitigation Work webinars:
March 14, 2023, 11:00 a.m. to Noon MST
April 18, 2023, 11:00 a.m. to Noon MST
May 16, 2023, 11:00 a.m. to Noon MST
June 13, 2023, 11:00 a.m. to Noon MST

FEMA Seeks Public Feedback on Hazard Mitigation Documents
FEMA is seeking public feedback on nine Hazard Mitigation resource typing documents. These resource typing documents include two National Incident Management System-typed Hazard Mitigation teams for operations and planning and seven positions that make up the teams. This 30-day national engagement period will conclude at 5 p.m. ET on March 16.
These resource typing documents enhance the interoperability and effectiveness of mutual aid by establishing baseline qualifications for Hazard Mitigation National Incident Management System-typed teams and personnel. This facilitates the sharing of deployable resources at all jurisdictional levels.
National engagement provides an opportunity for interested parties to comment on the draft documents to ensure they are relevant to all implementing partners. 
To provide comments on the draft documents, complete the feedback form and submit the form to FEMA-NIMS@fema.dhs.gov no later than 5 p.m. ET on March 16.

FEMA Higher Education Call for Research Proposals
NTED’s Higher Education (HiEd) Program will fund competitive multidisciplinary applied research proposals that examine real world complex problems and provide actionable recommendations to advance the discipline of emergency management.
Focus Areas
Proposals must fall under one or more of the following focus areas:
  • Fostering Equity
  • Climate Resilience
  • Emergency Management Workforce
Particular consideration will be paid towards projects that analyze communities’ use of future conditions data and/or measuring loss avoidance and the efficacy of risk reductions.
Proposal Criteria
Proposals are due to the HiEd Program by midnight Eastern Time on April 3, 2023. 
All projects should be scoped for 3-9 months and address one or more of the focus areas.
Professional Development Opportunities
Virtual Option Available
Orlando Florida
March 12-15, 2023
DRJ is the industry’s largest resource for business continuity, disaster recovery, crisis communication, and risk management, reaching a global network of more than 138,000 professionals. The tools you gain at DRJ Events will help you reduce downtime, increase safety, secure your data, and reduce your overall risk.

May 7-11, 2023
Raleigh, North Carolina
The world’s largest and most comprehensive floodplain management conference.

National Emergency Training Center (NETC) Emmitsburg, Maryland
June 5-7, 2023
Connecting our Past with our Future: Celebrating Community Impact through 25 Years of the FEMA Higher Education Symposium

Broomfield, Colorado
July 9-12, 2023
More information to follow!

November 3-9, 2023
Long Beach, CA
The goal of the IAEM Annual Conference is to improve the knowledge, competency level and collaborative skills of attendee. 
From The Bookshelf
The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, The Epidemic That Shaped Our History

by Molly Caldwell Crosby

Over the course of history, yellow fever has paralyzed governments, halted commerce, quarantined cities, moved the U.S. capital, and altered the outcome of wars. During a single summer in Memphis alone, it cost more lives than the Chicago fire, the San Francisco earthquake, and the Johnstown flood combined.

In 1900, the U.S. sent three doctors to Cuba to discover how yellow fever was spread. There, they launched one of history's most controversial human studies. Compelling and terrifying, The American Plague depicts the story of yellow fever and its reign in this country—and in Africa, where even today it strikes thousands every year. With “arresting tales of heroism,” (Publishers Weekly) it is a story as much about the nature of human beings as it is about the nature of disease.

About the Author
Molly Caldwell Crosby is the national bestselling author of Asleep: The Forgotten Epidemic That Remains One of Medicine's Greatest Mysteries and The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic That Shaped Our History, which has been nominated for several awards. Crosby holds a master's degree in nonfiction and science writing from Johns Hopkins University and previously worked for National Geographic magazine. Her writing has appeared in Newsweek, Health, and USA Today, among others.
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 2023. 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