EP 02 Foundations of Emergency Management

Foundations of Emergency Management

Foundations of Emergency Management

Episode Transcript

Hi, and welcome to EM Student. And this is Todd Devoe, and I will be walking you through some of the cool stuff that we’ve been talking about here lately. And one of the things that I really wanted to kind of get into is a little 101 action here, the foundations of the civil defense system in emergency management, and I’m really going to be looking at one book that we will be discussing, it’s called “The Foundations of Emergency Management,” go figure. And the author that we’re going to be talking about and referencing in this particular section is going to be Jeffrey Van Slyke, Ph.D. He is a retired chief of police with an extensive background in emergency management, crisis response, and law enforcement services. And special security details.

And during his career as chief of police, Dr. Van Slyke has experimented and managed– ok, “Foundations of Emergency Management,” a little 101 here. A lot of you guys understand this or already went through this a little bit, but I’m going to read some sections of the book, and we’re going to discuss that section of the book, and exactly how that applies to our daily lives as emergency managers and the real world.

So, realistically, in the beginning of our country, we weren’t a superpower, and we had to do things to make ourselves larger, and bigger, and stronger, and stand out there. So, if you remember all the way back to 1812, basically, some people call that the extension of the American Revolution, also known as the Second Revolution, if you will, where we fought Britain again. Britain, at the time, was in war with France, and they were running around, snagging sailors off of ships and making them into (inaudible) service basically, into the British Navy. And it came to the point that we went to war, and this is where we get Andrew Jackson from. And that moves into the Mexican-American war, and then we go into the 1840’s, and then we go into the Spanish-American war, all these things go forward. And basically, we get to 1823, which is obviously, before the Mexican-American war, and we get the Monroe Doctrine, which really kind of pushes in informing European powers that, hey, stay out of this Western hemisphere here, stay out of the South America, America is taking claim to all the issues over there. Which, realistically, if you think about that, has caused a lot of the issues that we’re running into as far as everything that’s going on in South America, what we’ve done in the past.

So, that’s a little bit of a history lesson on what was happening. What does that necessarily mean in terms of emergency management is pretty interesting in this aspect of it? It’s that our field has really been taken from civil defense, and the civil defense was taken from the concepts of the Homefront of the military. And if you– for those of you who were alive prior to 9/11 and remember the world before that, it was obviously, the nuclear bomb drills, that type of stuff. And then we went into the world of homeland security after 9/11, and that’s kind of where we’re at right now. So this is a little quick history. Obviously, there’s more into it. Those of you that are in school right now probably got really more in-depth, but I really wanted to kind of bring that part of it up.

Now, let’s rewind a little bit. Let’s talk about 1941. We went to war, World War II. War with Europe and Asia and the Office of Civil Defense was established within the Office of Emergency Management to assure effective coordination, relations with state and local governments. Sounds like FEMA, right? That’s basically what it was. So, that’s what the Civil Defense was. We are showing that we think that we are going to be attacked here on our soil from– pretty much Japan. I don’t think we’re too worried about Europe coming over, but for sure, Japan. When we were attacked, obviously, in Hawaii, the West Coast was on high alert all the time. The idea of the civil defense here on the West Coast was unbelievable. Airway drills and things like this, blackout curtains on homes, this whole thing was really important.

So, during August 1941, the US Citizen Defense Core was established, and it gave the first complete and coordinated plan for a local organization for civilian defense. And the ways to prototype the (inaudible) of civil defense, which we call the CD. And if you’ve ever seen me do my YouTube Live, you’ll see the civil defense right behind me; it still has a lot of play in what we’re doing here today like I said about 1,000 times already.


And so, with this prototype of civil defense, this concern for security and the (inaudible) of the United States increased, the civil defense program increased in popularity. During 1942, the Office of Civil Defense conducted training for Civil Defense police volunteers in about 46 cities. And with the support of J Edgar Hoover and the FBI. At the end of World War II, we found the United States in one of the two remaining global superpowers. So, you had us, and we had Russia, right? And in 1945, the Office of Civil Defense was disbanded. But soon, the new threats of the Cold War came in, including the fear of nuclear attack. So, this leads to a renewed discussion of the need for local civil defense.

So, 1950, President Harry Truman signed the executive order 10186, creating the Federal Civil Defense Administration, the FCDA, within the office of emergency management, again. And the executive office of the President. And so, this is where we’re at with it, right? So, we let it go, nuclear bomb threat comes in, and we go, “Hey, we have this thing here.” And they created things such as the Fire Brigade and things like this, within that Civil Defense organization.

So, from the earliest days of the Cold War, preparedness focused upon events such as the nuclear attack, from the Soviet Union. So many bomb drills were going on across the United States. I remember doing some of those things when I was a kid in the 70’s, in upstate New York. Buffalo, specifically, where we had the airway drills, and the siren would go off, and we would go into the hallway and put our heads down. Whatever we were doing, I was a kid; I was in grade school at the time.

So when the Cold War ended, there was hope that the world would be a safer place. So the war ended in the early 90’s. So, 1994, the Civil Defense (inaudible) incorporated into the Stafford Act. The Stafford Act, realistically, is what created where we are today, right? The Stafford Act was there, which really put the outlines of what emergency management is, ok? So, let’s go back to– let’s talk a little bit about our Civil Defense background here.

So, realistically, FEMA, which was created in the 70’s, although it went through an all-hazards approach, it really was created to be that nuclear response agency. And they found that there’s much, much, much more to do with it, and so they really kind of split off and started doing an all-hazards type of approach and started doing natural disasters as well. It was never the intent for it to be a natural disasters (inaudible) ok? It was never the intent for FEMA to do natural disasters. It wasn’t really until the Stafford Act kind of outlined what that would be until FEMA was really doing that type of role.

So, the profession of emergency management has been, really, an inclusive triad of processes, responsibilities, and disciplines. First, the process of emergency management would be confounded in the actual response, with the boots in the ground, to an emergency or disaster. Or the critical incident after it happens, right? For the most part, every incident or event is different, and the result for (inaudible) based upon mistakes that are made or achievements that are (inaudible).

So, because every incident event seemingly has its own life, this often requires different response and recovery approaches that are either or not documented in the standard protocol or are unforeseen. So, we want to talk about that aspect of it, right? Right there, out of the book. Right? The Foundations of Emergency Management. The author writes, “We are learning from best practices, right? We learn from best practices. We also learn from other’s mistakes.” And that’s really what is kind of cool with emergency management, specifically in our profession here, of where we’re trying to do response recovery, is that it’s ever-growing, it’s really practicing, right? It’s almost like medicine. It’s practicing medicine. That’s why doctors call it, constant learning, tweaking this, and doing that.
We’ve never had a perfect response. We’ve never had a perfect response. Hurricane Katrina, debacle in some aspects of it, right? Real bit debacles in some aspects of it. Sandy comes around, same thing! Really big debacles in some parts of it. We have Houston, with the two hurricanes hitting that area, right? So, mistakes that occurred there as well. And then we’ve got Maria, smacking into Puerto Rico, who are still recovering from that, right? We’re not really sure of some of the things that are happening there, some of the rural areas aren’t getting power still. So we’re learning, and learning, and learning, constantly learning.
And if you don’t constantly learn in this field, that’s when you really know that you’re in the wrong profession, or you just gotta get out, right? So, what we have, though, is we’ve come into this concept of the game plan, right? And so, it’s an often used paradigm of adapting, improvising, overcoming. A.k.a., the Marine Core way of doing things. We improvise, we adapt, and we overcome. You know, so we take a look at the four D’s. We’ve gonna discover, we’re gonna determine, we’re gonna develop, we’re gonna deploy. We’re gonna discover lessons learned, and the achievements, the efficiencies, and the effectiveness. We’re going to determine what needs to be done, necessary, so the resources, relationships, and readiness. We’re gonna develop mitigation preparedness and operation response recovery methods and deploy when we’re set out and set up and going downstream. We’re going down range here, and we’re gonna go, and we’re gonna do what needs to be done.

So, the responsibility of emergency management (inaudible) key stakeholders to include local, state, and federal government agencies. First responders, an organization/entity such as the American Red Cross, Team Rubicon, Business Volunteers, the BERT program, the CERT program, the Salvation Army, the Baptist Ministry for outreach for food is one of the ones that gets out there. Other organizations such as the Tool Organization that donates tools for disaster response. Those are really important organizations that you want to really think about, when we talk about this.

And encompassing all of those into the emergency response and emergency management field, you know? So, specifically, the emergency manager must act responsibly by being able to engage with all those partners and understand how these agencies work in an effort to make the best use possible of partner agency resources. You need to learn about those agencies, and what they can do and what they cannot do. What their capabilities are? To know what the capabilities are, of a volunteer organization, it’s going to make it so much easier that during the event, to make a call.

Let me tell you a story about CERT. The Community Emergency Response Team, specifically in Orange County, California. We did not have a plan on how to activate CERT in a large-scale disaster. We talked about it; we had ideas, we created an organization called CMAP, the CERT Mutual Aid Partnership. And with CMAP, we had cities that got together and said, “Hey, let’s start coming up with a protocol, and what we’re gonna do, and what levels of training we’re going to have.” We weren’t really sure what the mission was going to be, but we had ideas. And as a matter of fact, the idea that we had, originally, was going to be how are we going to use these CERT volunteers to augment shelters in a large-scale earthquake, right?

Because you know, there’s only “x” amount of shelter workers that the American Red Cross has. We can train CERT members to be shelter workers, and that was really where we were going. That was the (inaudible) of business that we really thought the CERT members, county-wide, were going to be used for. But what do we do? In 2007, a large fire burned. It’s called the Santiago (inaudible) fire. And it was like, 18th fire, I think, it might be even more. But anyway, it was around there. In the teens, high teens early twenties fire that started in that period. And what happened was, there weren’t any resources. Orange County, LA County, Riverside County, San Diego County were all on fire, in some aspect of it. And they had resources all over the state.

So, what happens is, not just the firefighting aspect of it, right? That’s a different whole aspect of it. But they didn’t have support staff either, right? And so, we’re sitting in the emergency operations center up at the county, and the fire chief of the time, he turns around to the emergency operations director and says, “Hey, can we activate the CERT program?” She looks at me and says, “Hey, can we activate the CERT program?” And I said, “I don’t know, let’s give it a try.” So I pick up the phone and start making phone calls. We didn’t even have a process on how to call people out at this time.

And we ended up having somewhere up to 60 volunteers come, and it was about 2 o’clock on the morning, when we did those phone calls. And by 5:30 in the morning, we had 60 volunteers ready to do something. We weren’t really sure what they were going to do, but we knew they had capabilities. We trained CERT, the FEMA-standard CERT level; we knew they had some capabilities. And the organizational portion of it, the CERT team building portion of it that was in that was critical to what we ended up doing during this process.

What we ended up doing was utilizing the CERT team as drivers, ground support people, one of the guys who was an architect, started helping out making maps. We had people doing some food service organizations. It was all a bunch of different portions, what they ended up doing. The cool part about this, is during that two-week activation, it had over 260 volunteers rotate through the command, the CERT activation. So, CERT came out and did what they had to do. And understanding those capabilities of what the organizations are, you might now know what jobs that are available right now, but you know that you need people, and if you understand the capabilities of those people, you can call it up and start to use them, right? As you need to. And they’re great people, those volunteers are eager to do things for you, and they’re going to come up and do it.

And I know some of you guys that are listening are CERT members. And I love you all, (inaudible) do great stuff out there, and I want you guys to keep up the good work, but understanding that aspect, the capabilities that these people have. And if you can have that in your pocket, when a disaster occurs, and you know who to call, and when to call them, that is going to be huge. So, what are we talking about here, in the four phases of emergency management? Realistically, now we’re moving into the 5th phase of emergency management, but that’s (inaudible).

So we have mitigation, preparedness response, recovery, and preparation. Let’s talk about the four key phases of emergency management. Mitigation, preparation, response, recovery, right? In those areas, the mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery, you can utilize these organizations, you can utilize CERT programs and what not in all four phases. So, what we’re going to do here with the EM Student is we’re going to break down each of these phases for a little bit. We’re going to call phase one: mitigation and prevention. And we should notice too is that, realistically, they’ve pulled prevention out of the mitigation aspect and made it a fifth phase. So, in some cases, you’ll hear the five phases of emergency management, which includes prevention as its own phase.

So, preparing for a disaster, it’s important to start with mitigation or prevention. And sometimes, in this phase, household, businesses, cities, counties, and larger organizations review their types of hazards and/or emergencies they’re expected to face, and they start to go in there and really kind of get ready for that thing by doing things like strapping down your house, looking at your water heater, make sure that’s strapped down, so it doesn’t fall off the wall during an earthquake. Or you know, make sure that your pipes in the East Coast are insulated, so they don’t freeze during the winter. Those are the types of things that we’re doing in mitigation. And it really kind of sounds like preparedness as well, right? But that’s the second phase of emergency management; it’s preparedness.

And preparedness comes in many forms, and a very similar goal to what they have in mitigation, I guess, if you want to think about it. But during the preparedness phase, this is where you do a lot of training, exercises, those types of things would happen in preparedness. This is where you go and take your classes; you make sure people are doing what they need to do, and that’s the part of it which I’m talking about in preparedness.

And obviously, the first phase is response, and that’s kind of self-explanatory. When you respond into the disaster, and you know, that’s when you’re activating your programs, like CERT and all those other– Team Rubicon, and BERT, and what not, and the American Red Cross, that’s going to happen in there.

And the recovery, as well, it’s like, the longest phase. And you’re going to see some volunteer organizations that are stepping up, specifically, in the recovery phase to help rebuild and make people go back to some sense of normalcy that they had prior to the disaster. And that’s in the recovery phase.

In the next few podcasts that we’re going to be doing at EM Student, we’re going to really kind of delve into each of these phases, kind of talk about them, and really put the practical application portion to what happens in the real world.

So, thank you so much for listening to the EM Student podcast. This is your host, Todd DeVoe, and I’ll see you guys at the next one.


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About Todd De Voe 81 Articles
Involved in Emergency Response, Emergency Management, Education and Volunteer Management for over 25 years.Served as a Corpsman assigned to the Fleet Marine Force of the United States Navy. I now teach Emergency Management at Coastline Community College, I am also the Host of EM Weekly.

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