They meet in the local diner across the street, in a small coffee shop meters away from headquarters, or in the office behind closed doors. But, these get-togethers between emergency management colleagues are not to discuss upgrades to the latest heat emergency plan, or to flesh out details for an upcoming tabletop or functional exercise. These meetings instead promote professional development by providing a roadmap to help emergency management neophytes navigate pages of plans and protocols to learn from their colleagues’ experiences in the field.
The discipline of emergency management is poised to benefit from three converging factors: an increasing number of millennials joining the workforce; the proliferation of emergency management related degree programs; and greater visibility and relevance of the discipline itself due to the increasing frequency, scope, and magnitude of disasters and evolving threats. Together, these factors will shape emergency management for the next generation.
The use of facial recognition (FR) technologies to support public safety has long been considered a potent tool for law enforcement. The capability to automatically identify persons of interest in real-time has the potential to alert police of threats before an incident occurs. Long considered a technology of science fiction, FR is finally moving into the public safety mainstream with new capabilities now being rolled out.
Many people grew up hearing about disasters in far-off lands and how amateur (ham) radio operators were initially the only means of contact with the outside world. Disasters, both near and far, still occur today, and ham radio operators continue to volunteer their skills and personal radio equipment to serve the public. From a planning and operations perspective, emergency management professionals must effectively include these volunteer resources into comprehensive emergency management plans (CEMPs).
There have been 56 National Special Security Events (NSSEs) since Presidential Directive 62 designated the category in 1998, 32 of which have been hosted in Washington, D.C. The most recent NSSEs have been the 2017 Inauguration, the 2017 President’s Address to the Joint Session of Congress, and the 2015 World Meeting of Families, which involved a visit to the District by Pope Francis. Local jurisdictions hosting such events must evaluate and plan for both the opportunities and challenges they may face.
In collaboration with many local, state, and federal partners, the Northwest Tribal Emergency Management Council hosted the 14th Annual Regional Joint Tribal Emergency Preparedness Conference on 1-3 May 2017, at the Suquamish Indian Tribe’s center overlooking dxʷsəq̕ʷəb (“place of the clear salt water” in the Southern Lushootseed language) at Agate Pass in Puget Sound, Washington. Amateur radio operators from Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona all contributed to the success of this conference.
Water is vital to life. Water and wastewater are taken for granted, with people believing that the faucet will turn on and the toilet will flush – that is, until a disaster. To ensure access to critical resources such as water when needed the most requires understanding the scale and scope of the problem, identifying ways to preserve such lifeline services, and strategizing to best allocate these resources during both disaster and non-disaster times.
Emergency managers (and others) often fail to truly engage and educate their various stakeholders. With numerous competing priorities and a vast array of information outlets to contend with, getting a message to resonate requires more effort than ever before. As such, emergency managers must be willing to over-communicate and explore new ways to educate people. Much like disaster preparedness, communication is an ongoing process that requires a sustained commitment.
Civil unrest, regardless of cause, creates unexpected risks to lives and property. Predicting the timing and scale of these events would allow for better tactical management and a more effective training process. However, theoretical work by complex systems scientists and real-world experiences of first responders make a strong case that such forecasting may be impossible. Still, recent advances in understanding complex systems can provide profound contributions to the preparedness community.
On a Saturday night in 2013, a fire broke out in a nightclub in Sao Paulo, Brazil. More than 240 people, mostly college students, were killed. Two years later, two people were killed and more than 70 injured in a stampede to exit a club in Malta, due to a possible gas leak. Although the immediate causes of the two incidents were different, a common factor that led to so many dead and injured was poor management of large groups.