The aeolian winds took control of the surrounding environment. A death-defying vortex formed and, along with it, a perturbation as inconceivable as the Camp Fire was overwhelming. This article continues to chronicle the story of a mega-disaster. Part 1 described how the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) spent the last decade causing major life and property losses due to seemingly incompetent organizational leadership. In the next segment of the story, PG&E may not be the villain its public image would suggest. Other influences and factors that may have played a role in its public image will be revealed.
Because of COVID-19, it is time to reevaluate preparedness and reconsider threats to the homeland. Good intentions and grand theories do not make good programs. Programs work best when they’re based on a detailed understanding of the problem begin solved and how they are implemented on the ground with solid funding commitments and realistic expectations.
The issue of when or how to lift social distancing and isolation is a wicked problem. A “Wicked Problem” in policymaking defeats standard solutions because of the interaction between the wicked problem and its potential solutions. The application of the correct solution to one aspect of the wicked problem often complicates another aspect of the problem. Solving wicked problems is best done through the iterative process in which a partial solution is applied, the problem is re-defined, the next partial solution is applied, and the process is repeated. This process is termed “Muddling Through”, and it is dependent upon the ability to test a partial solution and react to it.
At about 6:15 a.m. on 8 November 2018, an iron hook holding up a 115,000-volt line broke, dropping the live wire and sparking a blaze. Thirty minutes later, what would come to be known as the Camp Fire was out of control. Officials ordered the evacuation of the nearby town of Paradise, home to 26,000 people. The town was soon burned to the ground. Within hours, the fire destroyed 13,893 homes and killed more people (85), than any other California wildfire.
If necessity is the mother of invention, the new coronavirus is quickly birthing a lot of innovations. Parts of U.S. society may be forever changed by this pandemic. As of 13 April 2020, the United States had over 550,000 confirmed cases and nearly 22,000 deaths, with emergency preparedness and response agencies preparing for much more to come. Combinations of social distancing, home quarantine, closure of schools and universities, and case isolation are now being extensively practiced. Creativity is being implemented each day to overcome response barriers to those at work and meet the needs of those asked to stay at home.
As the United States continues to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, police departments across the country are beginning to feel the impact of the virus on their day-to-day staffing. In New York, three officers have died, more than 900 members of the New York Police Department (NYPD) have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 3,200 have called out sick. In Detroit, Michigan, two officers have died due to the coronavirus, including a 38-year old dispatcher and one-fourth of the force is quarantined. In Puerto Rico, the entire police department of Rincón is quarantined. In California, law enforcement officials are exploring the option of assigning detectives, administrative personnel, and special operations personnel to street duty. However, the country has other reinforcements that should be deployed.
April 20, 1999, was a bellwether day in American law enforcement history. An act of mass murder occurred at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 13 people dead and 21 injured, and the old model of responding to active threat events was changed forever. The active pursuit of the killer would no longer be a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) problem to solve – it would be a first-arriving officer’s problem. Fast forward 18 years and the mass killing event at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shows how far the nation has come and needs to go to prevent more deaths.
In 1850 – nine years before the Carrington Event and 12 years before the Civil War – the population of the United States was 23 million people. At the end of 2018, the population of the U.S. had reached 328 million people. What enabled the population to increase by 305 million people is quite simple: technology. New technologies that promoted this growth include: advances in medicine, advances in agricultural methods, the ability to transport food across the country (and across the world), new sources and uses of energy, an industrial revolution, advances in many areas of technology, and so on. All of these technologies are tied to one significant event: the advent of the electric grid.
Over the past two decades, the United States has focused heavily on preventing attacks from Islamic terrorism movements – or those inspired by these movements. However, recent attacks in the United States over the past few years have prompted much debate on how to combat the threat of domestic terrorism. Particularly concerning is that the recent surge in white supremacy and right-wing/left-wing extremist movements could inspire others to commit further violent attacks. In response to the most recent attacks in Ohio and Texas, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says it “remains concerned that U.S.-based domestic violent extremists could become inspired by these and previous high-profile attacks to engage in similar acts of violence.” Equally concerning for law enforcement agencies is that a domestic terrorist attack is just as likely as a threat from abroad.
The role of the emergency management systems is to bring calm to chaos. The role of the public information officer (PIO) is to disseminate information that is credible, accurate, and reliable. It is a critical component of the initial response to meet the informational needs of residents – trusted, credible information aids in bringing calm.