EP 26 Preparing The Tribal Community

Vince Davis

EP 26 Preparing The Tribal Community

[TODD DEVOE] Hi, this is Todd DeVoe, your host at EM Weekly, and today, I’m with Vince Davis. He’s an author and a prolific speaker. And he was named one of the three emergency managers you should follow on LinkedIn by Basecamp Connect, and the book that he authored, this is what we’re gonna talk about today, is “The Native Family Disaster Preparedness Handbook” and I’m really excited to have Vince on here today with me. It’s an honor to have you here, Vince. So Vince, just real quick, how did you get involved in emergency management and disaster response, and then wrap it up with how did you decide to write the book “The Native Family Disaster Preparedness Handbook”?

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[VINCE DAVIS] Todd, thank you for having me this morning, I’m glad to be here with you. My real emergency management came out after spending a majority of my career in telecommunications. And after 9/11, after the 9/11 terror attacks, the company that I was working for went out of business because we were supplying services to one of the airlines. And so, I had to reinvent my career, basically. And during that time, I had spent much of my career in the Illinois Army National Guard, as a public information officer. So, I took that experience, and I wound up getting a position at FEMA, as an external affairs officer, where I served community relations and external affairs on eleven federal disasters. And then, from there, I went to a series of careers in the field of emergency management, including emergency preparedness manager for the Chicago area Red Cross, part of the regional catastrophic planning team for FEMA, and then, into the private sector, where I was an emergency manager for Walgreens, and for Sony Corporations. So, I got involved with the Native community through a contact that I made at a preparedness fair at Sony. A gentleman by the name of Sean Scott, who wrote a book called “Red Guide to Disaster Recovery.” Sean had also written a native American version and Spanish version of his book, and through those contexts, he had been requested by native public media to help them put together some guidance and training materials for native broadcasters, specifically around disaster. Well, Sean, that not being his forte, in being a restoration expert, actually recommended me to native media to write that content. So, I wound up working with native public media to write an emergency communication guidebook for the 58 radio and television stations that operate in the Indian country. So, as a result of that, and some discussions that I had with some of the stakeholders in doing that work, we started to kick around some ideas about how best to communicate with native families in disasters. One thing that you may not be aware of, Todd, is that less than 10% of people living on tribal lands have access to the internet. So, when you tell people to go to the internet and find all this great information that’s out there about disasters and disaster preparedness, that’s really not a possibility for 90% of the folks living in Indian country.

[TODD DEVOE] Wow. That’s… not only for just the whole for them to do their own research, but we rely upon the internet, and cell phones, and stuff like that as emergency managers a lot for communications during a disaster, so that has to be challenging in its own rate.

[VINCE DAVIS] Certainly. So, one of the big challenges that we had going into creating the book was: how do we reach the population in a way that’s going to be meaningful and effective to them? We wanted to keep the language fairly straightforward, we didn’t want to try to create an emergency management manual, this is really a guide for families, on how they should prepare.

[TODD DEVOE] And that’s one of the things that, as emergency managers, in general, again, you know, less than 1% of the population is really prepared for any catastrophic emergency, and we’re talking in the suburban and urban areas, such as Orange County – California, LA – California, that type of stuff. How do you go about telling native Americans that this is something that they should invest their time and money into when in some cases, poverty is such an issue on the reservations?

[VINCE DAVIS] Sure, that’s a great question, Todd. And working with the stakeholders within the native community, two things I found very interesting. The native community has a very connected network of people in public health, native health, human services, and in the reservation communities. There are 567 sovereigns in the recognized tribes, federally recognized tribes in the United States. And while they’re not all individually connected to one another, necessarily, they are connected to those larger networks. So, one of the applications that we applied when we started to create the handbook was the fact that, as emergency managers, we often sort of get our own press, if you will; and we start dictating to people, rather than reaching them where they are. So, our goal with the Emergency Disaster Handbook for Native Americans was to get the book into the hands of the people who are actually going to use it. And so, we came up with a marketing plan, if you will, doing that through existing native organizations, including the National Tribal Emergency Management Council, which oversees and works with more than 270 of the tribes in the United States.

[TODD DEVOE] Do you see a greater sense of community on the tribal lands than, say, in suburbia?

[VINCE DAVIS] That’s a great question. One of the things that I’ve been involved in for a number of years is, of course, CERT. And I’ve written a number of articles about community emergency response teams, and how, in many cases, they’re ineffective in certain areas, such as large urban areas. For example, here in Chicago, there are about 3.2 million people in the city, and they have a CERT program, but there’s only less than 200 people involved in CERT.

[TODD DEVOE] Wow.

[VINCE DAVIS] And the reason for that is that the communities in urban areas, in heavily populated urban areas, are not as connected as they are in suburban and rural communities. That is, the people don’t know their neighbors, they don’t really associate with the local fire departments, police departments, public safety people, in the way that people do in suburbia.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

Vince Davis
Vince Davis

[VINCE DAVIS] So, the same applies to the native American community. What I found in working with them is that they’re very much connected on a tribal level, and it’s a matter of tailoring the resources so they are socially relevant to what their concerns and their needs are. For example, on a reservation, you may have 300 people or 400 people spread out over a very big geographic area. And those folks communicate through things like amateur radio and native public radio. That’s how they get their information. So, I guess to say that the native community is unique in those aspects. Every community has its own nuances. I’m creating right now with another group of folks that I’m working with a black family preparedness handbook. Very, very similar to the native book, but very nuanced in the way that African American communities get information, communicate with one another. Again, as you attested to earlier, less than 24%, according to some recent studies, of African American families have done anything to prepare for a disaster.

[TODD DEVOE] Why is that? I mean, is there any empirical data that backs up why, specifically, there is less involvement with the African… and I say that in a sense that globally thinking, right? Where I am at, in Orange County, California, you know, obviously we have a heavy Hispanic community, so that’s one thing, I reach with Spanish-speaking classes. But on the other hand, even the suburban and urban people living in Orange County and LA Country, I think sometimes are not prepared because they’re used to having services when they could pick up their phone during a regular day and call 911, and they’re able to get within 4 to 5 minutes, resources. I think maybe they feel that’s going to be the same thing when a catastrophic emergency occurs. But if you take a look at Katrina, obviously, that was an example where… what was that? A week before we got real services out there, 14 days I think, it was, at the end, when we were able to stabilize that. Why do you think that, in general, let’s talk about the African American community. Why are they less apt to be prepared, or want to do… I wouldn’t less apt to be prepared. Why do you think they’re less interested in becoming prepared?

[VINCE DAVIS] Again, that’s a great question. And one of the things that I’ve said in various publications that I’ve written over the past several years, and one of the things that I’ve learned through all of my travels in emergency management is people don’t respond very well to mixed messages. And over the 15 or 16 years since 9/11, we, as emergency managers, have sent mixed messages to the public.

[TODD DEVOE] True.

[VINCE DAVIS] On the one hand, we say: get a kit, make a plan and be prepared. While on the other hand, we’re saying, sort of in a tacit way, “well, but if you don’t, we’ll be there to save you.”

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[VINCE DAVIS] So, I think it’s gonna take a little bit more of a honest and blunt message from the emergency management community, that says to communities: “look, during a major disaster, there’s only so many of us to go around, and we’re focused on the most injured and the most endangered. You’re on your own, and you really need to understand that you’re on your own.” And I think, as emergency managers, we’ve been conditioned to be reluctant to give that negative message out, because we don’t wanna frighten people, we don’t want to upset people. So, what happens is, people say, “Well, yeah, I know I kind of need to do that, but I’ll get to it one of these days.”

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[VINCE DAVIS] And they never get to it, and then when there is a disaster, as you say, they think they can automatically pick up the phone and call 911 and think we’re just gonna rush in and help them.

[TODD DEVOE] I taught a lot of CERT classes in my day, and one day we’re out doing outreach at one of the fairs, and I had somebody come over to be and ask about the CERT program, and I explained to him what it was, and then the guy goes to me, and says: “Well, isn’t that what I pay my taxes for? For you guys to respond to disasters?”

[VINCE DAVIS] Right.

[TODD DEVOE] You know, well, it’s like, we have one police officer, basically, for every thousand people that live in the city. And you have about 2 firefighters for about every thousand people that live in the city, that’s only average, this could be more or less, depends on where you’re at. You know, so yeah, you don’t have the entire police force or fire department on every day. You know, so when the earthquake does occur, this is what we have in California, you know, or the big tornado comes through, it’s going to be a couple of days before you can round everybody up, because they’re going to be taking care of their own stuff at home. People just don’t… I don’t think they either care they know or just don’t know. I mean, I don’t know how to get over the apathy, in general.

[VINCE DAVIS] So, one of the things that I suggested, Todd, and I’m glad you brought that up, because that’s so true for us, as emergency managers. It’s that frustration point that we’ve all had. I had one emergency manager tell me some years ago, he says: “Well, Vince, you know, you can lead the horses to the water, but you can’t make them drink.” And I suggested to him that not only did you not have to… can you not lead the horse to water, you have to bring the water to the forest.

[TODD DEVOE] Right!

[VINCE DAVIS] And you’re going to pour it down their throat.

[TODD DEVOE] It’s true.

[VINCE DAVIS] And what I meant by that is, when you’re doing preparedness, we can’t have this passive message. It’s gotta be focused on what people are doing every day. So, where should the message of preparedness be? Well, it should be everywhere that people are. It should be in churches and places of worship, it should be at health clinics, where people go get their doctor’s appointment. It should be in schools, where children bring materials home every day for their parents to read. One of my mentors and good friend, General Russel Honore, who was the hero of the hurricane Katrina rescue, once said that what happens to people in a disaster is directly related to what they were doing before a disaster. And so, what we have to do is change the paradigm of how we approach preparedness in a way that says: they’re not going to do it on their own because it’s an extra thing that people have to do. And to be quite frank about it, all of us are busy surviving, working, trying to take care of our family. So, one extra thing on our plate is not gonna get the attention that it needs. So, what we need to do is, in turn, make sure that people are inundated with preparedness information and messages all the time, wherever they are. When you get on a public bus, there should be preparedness PSAs posters. When you go to the doctor’s office, when they hand you your prescription, they should hand you a little pamphlet, asking you if you’re prepared. So, I think if we don’t start to take preparedness more seriously as a society, we’re headed for a catastrophe of a magnitude that is really going to cost a lot of lives. You know, hurricane Katrina should have been a wakeup call. Unfortunately, the folks in New Orleans, in the Gulf region, are, as some studies, less prepared now than they were even prior to Katrina.

[TODD DEVOE] Right, I read that! Yeah, it’s amazing. Back on that note of the preparedness for the community, do you know who Dr. Lucy Jones is?

[VINCE DAVIS] Yeah, I’ve heard of her.

[TODD DEVOE] She was doing this thing here in LA, regarding earthquake preparedness. Her and I were on a panel together. And she brought up the fact that, if we had a major earthquake here, which… in all purposes, should happen any day now, right? Because I mean, it’s years overdue. When that occurs, we’re going to be cut off with water and transportation. And she’s talking six months, at a minimum, without any water here in Southern California. And not talking just drinking water. I’m talking about all water. Bathing water, everything, you know? Six months. And people, they don’t hear the message, I don’t think. And I know, by now, I’m preaching to the choir, but I mean, this is the stuff that I try to get through to people when we talk about preparedness. And as an emergency manager, and this is who we’re talking to in this podcast, it’s a frustration for all of us. And I guess one of the things that I’d like to hear, and I think it’s exciting what you’ve done with that preparedness handbook that you got, is your successes that you’ve had reaching out to those tribal populations with their preparedness and their success stories.

[VINCE DAVIS] Thank you, Todd. And getting back to that, one of the things that we’ve done is that we’ve partnered with, not only, again, National Tribal Emergency Management Council, but we’ve been featured since the book came out in a number of forums, including the Tribal Leaders Conference, in Las Vegas, about a month ago, when we were able to get in front of tribal leadership and talk to them about the urgent need for preparedness, and why having the handbook is important to get into the hands of families. We’ve had a number of successes in terms of that. We’ve also partnered with some private sector companies. I can’t name any of them now, because there’s contractual things going on that are still pending, but some major national companies that do business in Indian country, and they’re interesting in sponsoring the handbooks as a donation to these tribal communities, so that people who can’t afford them will get them for free.

[TODD DEVOE] That’s great.

[VINCE DAVIS] So, we’ve had a lot of success in that area. We’re working with any and everybody who will talk to us. Certainly, we’ve been before in the FEMA tribal liaisons and all the FEMA regions, they’re aware of the book. We’re working on, again, some grant funding to help push this out into the native population. And a number of other avenues. So, we’ve had some initial success, but of course, much, much more work needs to be done and raise awareness. And that’s why I was so excited to get on your program and then talk to your audience about the book and about the availability of the book for tribal communities.

[TODD DEVOE] Here, in the Southwest, we have a lot of tribal communities, more than you would think. Some are just down the street from us, you know, we have the Pechanga tribe, and the Morongo tribe, and some of the big ones that we hear out here, they’re casino tribes, and that’s why we talk about them. But there’s also some of the smaller ones that are around too, that do have the same issues. So, we’re gonna take a break here in a minute, but just to chew on this for a second, I have a question. We did talk about, before, when I was talking to you last week, regarding the tribal communities and casinos, and you had an interesting stat on this. So, hold on to that for a second, take a break, when we come back, we’ll discuss the tribal casinos. Hey, and welcome back from the break, everybody. Thank you so much for listening to our sponsors and those guys right there that keep us running, keep our lights on, and keep us bringing that quality content to you. So, if you guys have a chance, click on to them, take a look at them, and make sure that they know that you were sent to them by us. So Vince, before the break, we were talking about the casinos, and everybody thinks about the Indian casinos and big money, and that kind of stuff. But you were telling me before that that’s not quite true, right?

[VINCE DAVIS] Absolutely, Todd. One of the things that I’ve learned in this process, and it’s been an eye opener for me, as a person who is not a tribal member. We all have pre-conceived notions and misconceptions about everything, because unless we’ve experienced and have gotten involved with it, we really don’t know how things work, we just perceive what we think we see. So, one of the things that I’ve learned through this process were some major myths about the native community that are simply not true. One is that all of the tribes have casinos, and they’re all very rich, and they’re riding around in Rolls Royce’s, and the fact, as a matter, is that there are 500 or so casinos in operation in native communities, only about 72 of those 500 casinos actually turn to profit. And, by regulation, by federal regulation, profits that are turned from those casinos that are profitable, are not distributed, necessarily, to the population. That is, everybody in the tribe doesn’t get a check from the casino, for the profits. Before that happens, there is this number of rules, federal rules, around how the tribal money must be dispersed. They must, for example, put a certain amount of money into local projects, or in local tribal government, supporting emergency management, supporting other public health and other entities within the tribe. So, the reality is, if there is anything left, the average tribal member that does get profits from the casino, makes something like, 2 or 3 thousand dollars a year, that’s pretty much it. So, the fact that, or the myth that all tribes that have casinos are wealthy, that’s a myth. One of the other interesting things I found out, for example, was the notion that native families receive free college education. That’s simply not true. They have to apply for scholarships just like every other college student, and they have to qualify. And also, if they’re applying for native scholarships, they have to actually go through a really rigorous process of proving their native lineage before they’re eligible for a scholarship. So, they can’t just… I can’t just walk in and say: I’m a native. I’ve got native blood because my great-grandmother was a native American, and therefore, I’m entitled to apply for these funds. So, there’s a lot of things out there that I’ve learned over the process of writing this book that has really given me a whole different perspective on the native community as a whole. But one of the most important things I found out, Todd, is that the native population has had a history, of course, throughout this country of a lot of things that has happened to them as a community. But they are committed to survival, and they’re committed to one another, in a way that really, the rest of the American population could learn from. They know that they are vulnerable if there’s a natural disaster. Or human-caused disaster, like the Dakota pipeline situation. And so, the fabric of their culture said that they must protect the land, because the land belongs to everybody. It doesn’t just belong to the tribe or to their community, and as natural resources, like water and soil, need to be protected in a way that would allow them to survive, as a community. So, they have a very different survival mechanism and instinct that I think the rest of us, Americans, can really learn from.

[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, I agree with you there. I know that whole standing in the rock thing was pretty amazing to see all those tribes come together, and I know that they don’t all necessarily like each other, but they did stand together for that particular cause.

[VINCE DAVIS] Well, and if you take other things, like the Michigan water crisis, there was definitely a major issue, and still an ongoing issue there, but conversely, you don’t see any major ground swelling involvement or engagement of the communities to say: hey! Why did this happen? And we gotta make sure this doesn’t happen again.

[TODD DEVOE] That’s so true. We get so busy in our own lives that sometimes we see something like Flint, Michigan, for instance, and we’re over here on the West Coast, or if you’re over in Massachusetts, or whatever, and it’s almost like one of those things, like: well, that sucks that’s happening to them, but it doesn’t affect me, whatever. You know? That seems to be the attitude that a lot of Americans have. It’s kind of sad that we don’t come together as a community more often to ask those questions and try to resolve some of those issues specifically, you know, drinking water is one of the big things. For me, being on the West Coast, being in California, specifically, water is actually one of those issues that is always in the front of my mind, whether we’re going through the drought, or like I said, with the big earthquake, the pipelines being broken. Those issues that are happening. That’s one of mine… we could talk forever about water, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. But yeah, you’re right, we don’t get together on some issues like that.

[VINCE DAVIS] Well, certainly, my time in San Diego, somebody brought that to my attention in a way that most Americans have no idea about what a real water crisis is. So, that was a great learning experience for me, living out there and understanding the issues around water and water conservation.

[TODD DEVOE] There’s a town, I forget the name of it, and I’m sorry about that. In Central California, that actually ran out of water, and they’re only drinking through deliveries and bottled water. That’s the way they get their water. But again, it’s a whole another issue. Is there an issue specifically with people preparing that are in poverty?

[VINCE DAVIS] Well, great question. In 2012, I wrote my first book, it was called “Lost and Turned Out: A Guide to Preparing Underserved Communities” and in that book, I related one of my first experiences, Todd, on one of my very disasters doing FEMA work in Scioto county, Ohio, which is in the far southern corner of Ohio, next to the West Virginia border. Very, very, very poor population there, most of the people in that area are living below poverty. Very semi-rural community. But one of the experiences that profoundly influenced me to do this work that I’m doing in underserved communities was the fact that, although the emergency manager by the lake, called their area “little Appalachia”, because of the poverty that was there. One of the things that I learned is that disaster preparedness is not about having a disaster kit, or having the funds to go out and buy supplies to stock in your garage or in your home. Most people, when they think about disaster preparedness, think that it’s something they have to buy. And really, what we need to change is the mindset that says: disaster preparedness is a thought process or way of thinking, it’s not a thing. You know, the message from DHS, from day one, has been get a kit, and make a plan, and be prepared. And people have largely ignored that, whether they’d be in suburban rural communities, whether they’d be upper class, middle class. The general public is not resonating with that. So, it goes back to this, answering your question. What I learned in Scioto county was that the people there were socially connected enough to do what they had to do to survive. For example, the disaster was an ice storm, and most of the power lines had been spanned because of the ice. And so, they knew that they were going to be without power for a number of, not days, but weeks, because that was pretty routine in that area. So, one of the fascinating things that they did, was that community members banded together and they had already, in anticipation of the ice storms, which happened around the same time every year, gathered a bunch of dry ice, so that they could distribute it out to their neighbors to put into their refrigerators, to keep their food from spoiling. Because once that food spoils, you’re done. You don’t have money to go out and buy food, you have to wait for FEMA or the state to come in and rescue you. But in the meantime, you have children there that still have to eat. And so, some of the things that they did, that they were able to do themselves, really resonated with me as the true essence of preparedness. Preparedness is not a thing, you know, I think we have to get away from that whole idea of the commodity of having a disaster kit is going to save you. You can say that to the people whose houses were floating down the street in New Orleans. You know, where was that disaster kit when you needed it?

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[VINCE DAVIS] I think the preparedness message has to be making sure that people understand the risks where they live; for example, here in Chicago, right now, we’ve got flooding going on on the (inaudible) river, and the Fox river, and people are sandbagging, and they’re doing all these things. But the vast majority of these people know that this is going to happen every year, and they’re still not prepared. So, you know, the preparedness message in what I wrote in “Lost and Turned Out” has to shift from this idea that somehow, if you have two granola bars and a flashlight, you’re prepared. Preparedness is a mind state, and it’s something you should be living, not doing. If you have to get prepared, that means you’ve got a problem. You should be basically living prepared.

[TODD DEVOE] As emergency managers, preparedness is one of the aspects that we do, and I know that everybody is underfunded and overworked, and understaffed. And I really truly believe that preparedness, that message is one of our key principles as emergency managers, that we need to be always talking about. Almost like a… I hate to say it, but almost like those people who used to be smokers, and then they quit smoking, and then they go around telling everybody how they have to quit smoking. I think that we have to be that prepared.

[VINCE DAVIS] Right.

[TODD DEVOE] We have to be that way with preparedness, you know? What kind of… how do we craft that message, so that we’re not off-putting, that we’re not becoming white noise in the background, and that people take us seriously?

[VINCE DAVIS] Great question, Todd. And I think there’s four things that really need to happen in that regard, as to why everybody is not prepared. Like you said, whether it’s underserved community, or an excellent community, it doesn’t matter. One is, we have to understand that people are apathetic because they don’t understand the disaster risks. That is, they don’t really focus on the fact that, in Chicago, you’re subject to be hit by a tornado, even in an urban, heavily populated urban area, so we have to continually remind people about the risks where they live. Secondly, there’s a lack of knowledge and understanding about the disaster process. Everybody thinks that FEMA is this great agency that’s got all these assets and they’re going to come in and save us, when the reality is that us, emergency managers, know that FEMA doesn’t own any assets, and they are there for guidance and direction, and they’re there to provide financial support to support state and local governments in a major disaster. So, I think there’s a process that I’m going through over these years to try to demystify the disaster system as it relates to the public. People have no idea what FEMA really does and what their real role is.

[TODD DEVOE] Right!

[VINCE DAVIS] They have no idea what the state’s real role is, or the county’s real role is in disaster. So, I think we need to do that process of demystification. And then, thirdly, we need to make people understand that depending, as you said earlier in our conversation, depending on the government to come in and save you, public safety people, it’s not realistic. That, like you said, 1% of the population is made up of first responders. Who are going to be doing the best they can to help people as they can, but in a major incident, that’s not going to be instantaneous. And then last, I think as emergency managers, we can focus on recovery versus prevention.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[VINCE DAVIS] That means we spent all of our assets and resources doing planning, training and exercises to respond and to recover, but some of that energy and effort has to be rechanneled toward the biggest issue, which is, what do you do about all these people who could have done something to prepare themselves, but didn’t?

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[VINCE DAVIS] So, I think if we focus on those four themes, you know, I was part of a think tank of people that reviewed the first passage of the national response framework, back in 2002, in Arlington, Virginia. And as we were going through that doctrine, initially, surprisingly enough, there was very little in there about preparedness, in the initial national response plan. We, as emergency managers, thought that we should be set up so we sort of did some arm twisting, and said: hey, we need to take this as part of the major doctrine of the four pillars of emergency management. Well, sometimes it’s good to admit when you made a mistake, and I think the mistake that was made back in that period of time, was thinking that emergency management, that would be FEMA and federal and state emergency management should be responsible for preparedness, period. And why I say that is because the obvious truth to me is that we’re not funded to do that, it’s not part of our core mission, and we struggle with it over these years, and it’s contributed to this gap in the public not being prepared. And I’ll give you an example of public health, for example, which is probably where emergency preparedness should have been housed at a state and federal level, and at a local level. They’re more equipped to do that than FEMA is, because FEMA does not have a mechanism to set up and to study outcomes. Public health, for example, knows that if (inaudible) reading at a great level by the time he’s in 3rd grade, then he stands a 78% chance of going to prison.

[TODD DEVOE] Wow.

[VINCE DAVIS] Why do they know that? Because they study outcomes.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[VINCE DAVIS] There is nothing set up for FEMA or Homeland Security to study disaster outcomes to understand what happens to people after the disaster, and therefore, tailor programs to pretrial that. That’s not what FEMA does. And that’s not what Homeland Security does, and that’s not what state emergency managers do. The response and recovery is our primary mission as emergency managers, and prevention and preparedness really is kind of an additional duty that, frankly, has not been pretty well funded and very well sought out in terms of finding out why’s. You don’t find out why people aren’t doing something, you’re never gonna be able to correct their behavior.

[TODD DEVOE] It’s so true. You know, it’s funny you say that because the University of Delaware has an emergency management program in their sociology department, and they do a great job. When I was going through school, undergrad and grad school, I did a lot of my research through the University of Delaware, and I mean, Catheline Tinnian, Dr. Tinnian, and that group did some really great empirical data research on disasters. So, you’re right. As emergency managers, we don’t do research well. And that’s something that we probably should be looking into. And again, I could have a whole conversation on that.

[VINCE DAVIS] And that’s not a criticism, that’s just something that isn’t what we do.

[TODD DEVOE] So true! Right, it’s true, it’s not a criticism. You’re right, that’s right. All right, so well, we’re getting close to our mark here. And before we get too deep into this, I’d like to ask you a couple of quick and easy questions. One is, now that you have a few books that you wrote, and I would actually be ok with you recommending those, but what book would you recommend to somebody who is just starting out as an emergency manager? If they want, they show up as an emergency manager or in that field, emergency preparedness coordinator, some agency. What would you give them to say: read this and it will get you started?

[VINCE DAVIS] Well, certainly. I would first give them a copy of the book “Unthinkable”, by author Amanda Ripley. She was a Time Magazine reporter who did a several year study of the survivors of the 9/11 attack, and she found out and chronicled in her book, some very, very important information about the psychology of survival in a disaster. One of her major conclusions, for example, was that people who had been through some kind of drill or training in their work place, at the towers, were most likely to survive because they were able to get from the first stage of any disaster, which is what I call the (inaudible) stage. That is: “I don’t believe this is happening, I don’t believe it’s happening now, and I don’t believe it’s happening to me.”

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[VINCE DAVIS] And the people who get from that stage to stage 2, which is: “I have to act in order to survive” are most likely to get there quicker if they had some kind of drill or training. There was a gentleman in one of the companies in the towers, named (inaudible), who was always bugging the heck out of all his fellow office workers about doing these evacuation drills, but 95% of their employees survived the 9/11 attacks because they acted quickly to get out of the building before things got out of hand. So, Amanda Ripley, I would recommend “The Unthinkable” as a book that anybody should read. There’s another gentleman, by the name of, I believe his name is Cohen. But the book is called “In the Wake of Disaster”, and it talks about the faith community and the role of faith community in disaster. I would certainly recommend that. I would also recommend my book, “Lost and Turned Out: A Guide to Preparing Underserved Communities”, because I think it gives a little bit different perspective on, again, the historical unpreparedness, and the idea that the folks who are most vulnerable, which is people with disabilities, elderly people below poverty, people without their own personal transportation. Those are the folks who are going to, most likely, suffer and die, in many cases, because they’re not prepared. So, if we can focus some of our efforts as emergency managers on preparing and informing those populations, we can save ourselves some grief on the other end, if you will, when we have a situation like in New Orleans. So, those are a couple of the books that I would suggest that are out there. The other one that I think everybody should have, every person who would own a home or even lease an apartment, is the “Red Guide to Disaster Recovery”, by Sean Scott. Because it not only tells individuals and homeowners what they need to look out for in the recovery process, but it helps people prepare for recovery. Recovery doesn’t happen after the fire trucks leave, and the emergency management folks are gone, and the yellow tape is gone. There’s this whole process of recovery that is devastating for most people. And Sean Scott does a great job of characterizing those things that people need to look out for, but also, informing emergency managers of some of the things that are obstacles to recovery and some solutions for preparing for recovery.

[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, that’s actually a really good one. I mean, most people don’t even understand the recovery process, and it’s not necessarily that the government is gonna come and write a check to you. It’s a whole another ball of wax. All right. So, next question, how do we get a hold of you if anybody here wants to buy your books or, you know, e-mail you or get in touch with your consulting company?

[VINCE DAVIS] Sure. So, if you would like to get a hold of me, there’s a couple of ways. My company is Preparedness Matters Disaster Consulting, you can reach that on the web at www.preparednessmatters.net. That’s my website, and that’s where we have information there about programs, about training, I do workshops, I do community organizational things all over the country. So, lots of information on there about how you can engage me to work with you and your community to help you further your preparedness goals. The other website is the Native Family Disaster Handbook website, and that website is www.thenativefamilydisasterhandbook.com. There, you can purchase the book, you can find out more information about the Handbook Project, you can become a sponsor, so there’s lots of information on there about how you can support native communities in disasters. And then last but not least, my e-mail is vincent.b.davis@outlook.com, and my phone number, if you want to call me directly, is area code 760-916-4328.

[TODD DEVOE] Great. And for everybody who wasn’t able to write this down, if you come back and take a look at the show notes, that information will definitely be in there as well. So, Vince, thank you so much for being here today, and this was a great talk. I’d love to have you back on sometime.

[VINCE DAVIS] Well, I’d love to be back on, Todd. And thank you very much for having me, and thank you for all the great work that you’re doing in EM Weekly. And like I said, I’m honored and privileged to be a part of it.

Links

Web – http://www.preparednessmatters.net/

Email – vincent.b.davis@outlook.com

Twitter:  VinceDavis7

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