EP 41 Communicating to the Masses Lessons From a Spy

EM-Weekly-EP41 Pete Turner Lessons from A Spy

EP 41 Communicating to the Masses Lessons From a Spy

[TODD DEVOE] We’re here live, at Barnes & Noble, and I Pete Turner here, and we’re gonna talk a little bit about “Communicating to the Masses” and some information that he received about some response around the area, and we’re gonna talk about his podcast. So, Pete, welcome to EM Weekly.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah, man. Thanks. It’s my pleasure to be here, I’ve been looking forward to doing this, so thanks for having me on, I love it.

[TODD DEVOE] Sure. So, tell me a little bit about yourself and your background, what you’re doing now, and what we can share here with the EM Weekly crowd.

[PETE TURNER] I’ve actually dipped my toe into the EM world. I’ve helped out George Whitney a little bit with his business over at Deplete EM. I helped him out over there. And you know, I learned a lot. I actually appeared on his show a couple of times, too. So, I would appear on his show, but he’s not really in the EM world. I was a spy, and I spent a lot of time overseas, working in the villages and doing things with the locals, and that sounds way more nefarious than it is. I quite openly talk about it, because when an American shows up, for instance, in a foreign land, what does everybody think their impression is?

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] Look, I one time flew a C-5 out of Travis’ Airforce Base. You know, I got long hair, you know, good shape, running around. They’re like: are you with this cargo? And they point, and it’s a bunch of zodiacs, like six of them. And I look, and I go: no. No one believes me, you know? I just don’t say anything about it. So even my peers think that I’m a spy. So, I’m open about it, because why create… other people do it differently, but I don’t. That’s a whole lot of (inaudible) for me to say this. I get people, I get the ground truth and the reality of when strategy and tactics meet ground truth. That’s me, that’s where I’m at. And so, when it comes to us planning and trying to mitigate the hazard risks and damage from a disaster, I’m the kind of guy you talk to about culture, about how will this work, how do we get this message out? I mean, what’s number? 5% of people are considered prepared?

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[TODD DEVOE] I think it’s less than that.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah, right. So, what do you do now? You know, how do you deal with that? And is that number accurate? It’s 100 questions! So, ideally, in their reality space. Which is very unfair for me to say, but it is what I do. I go out and I talk to people, and I understand more about where they’re at, and what it takes. Look, if you can accomplish your goal by leveraging somebody else’s culture, duh! Not too bad, you know? Why work so hard to create something new, if something that exists already will accomplish it? If that makes sense.

[TODD DEVOE] That’s like, one of the biggest things that we talk about specifically, messaging, right? In disasters.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] And what culture are you specifically messaging to. And today, I mean, as much as we used to call ourselves a melting pot back in, you now, back in the day, and somebody made a better analogy of this, is that we’re more like a toss salad, if you will, where there’s a bunch of different things in there.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] And the idea behind that is that each culture kind of keep its own self, right? And so, now we have to think about messaging based upon what people think is the truth and how we get this out to them. So, we talked about an evacuation order; it means different things to different people, especially in a place like Southern California, where there’s a bunch of different ideas of what that means.

[PETE TURNER] When you think about evacuating from Southern California, I thought about this, I saw the sign for the evac route for a tsunami. Like, there’s no evac route for Southern California. There is none. I mean, as soon as you go to get on it, the evacuation is over. It can’t get anywhere, you know? I mean, there’s so many ingresses and egresses along the way, it’s just chaos. So yes, there are planned routes, but the reality is, I’m gonna take a different route, cause that’s just not gonna work, right?

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] And you talk about culture. I would encourage all of us in the EM world to expand what we see, and think of cultures as being omnipresent, instead of segmented. You know, like, everybody’s into diversity right now, right? What’s the antonym of diversity? Unity, right? So, how do we create a diversified-unified approach to getting people out of an area, or helping them hunker down. Or how to we create a multicultural resilience plan, so that a community can provide for itself, and not take the burden off from EM, but like, ok, that’s accounted for. You know? What do you guys need? There’s one point of contact, we’re sending you sandbags, whatever it’s gonna be.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] So, those things are tougher when you think of culture as segments, and think of it as a whole bunch of intersections. And culture intersects nonstop, it’s omnipresent. It affects everything we do, it never stops, it’s like gravity. So, if you’re constantly thinking from a cultural perspective and cultural lens, whatever you think works in the EOC, that’s not reality on the ground. You have to refocus, take your camera and flip it 180º and say, how will this work in this part of town, and in this part of town? And it’s hard, it’s hard. But that’s what it takes to communicate cross-cultures, and through those intersections. Otherwise, you’ll just come blasting, and you’re gonna get results that you don’t like.

[TODD DEVOE] You know, I was talking to Ellis Stanley at the IEM Conference, in Long Beach, a few weeks ago, and in our conversation, we talk about culture. And he goes into the idea of, culture is not just Native American culture versus Irish American culture versus this, versus that. He goes into the idea that culture is also age.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] Our perceptions of what we know at this age is different compared to what it is for, say, the youth today, or the millennials, or what that is. And how do we communicate across the board, you know? And it goes into the fact that my son, for instance, he doesn’t watch program TV. He watched Netflix, he watches Amazon, he watches whatever is on PlayStation. Lots of YouTube channels and stuff like that.

[PETE TURNER] Totally different way to consume media, yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] How do we relay messages to someone like him? You know, where he’s not listening. The ES message doesn’t get to him, you know?

[PETE TURNER] Yeah, yeah. And it does get to his phone. You know? We had the whole thing in Northern California, where I’m from, where they didn’t use the phone system. And then when I got down here in Southern California, I don’t know, someone drew a polygon around all those phone numbers and sent me like, three or four messages, in rapid succession, well after all of the crisis was primarily over. There were still fires going on, but like, now you’re going to alert a guy in Southern California that Santa Rosa is on fire?

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] We gotta do better than that. And that goes back to the internal institutional culture, right? Where we have this us versus them kind of attitude. That can’t be. You can’t service the population if… and all institutions have this problem. I call it an accountability ladder problem, right? Everybody’s worried about their boss, so they’re all looking up the ladder, at the boss above them, and maybe around that boss to the next one. That orients you upward instead of down the ground, where the ladder is founded, you know, and where all the help is gonna be. So, we have to get past that point of thinking about culture in terms of, “You’re Hispanic, I’m white”, you know? “You’re from the East side of town, I’m from…” It’s way more than that. And it is complex. But you can’t ignore it; it’s gravity. It’s everywhere. It is impacting your mission. So, how do you deal with those things? You immerse yourselves in the community. If I go to… I guarantee this, I guarantee this. If I go to any (inaudible) meeting anywhere, I will look around and see an institutional knowledge base that’s focused inward and upward. It won’t be focused on, yes, there will be someone there from Walgreens talking about resilience, absolutely. But the people on the ground that are gonna be participating in these processes when there’s an earthquake, when there’s a flood, when there’s a hurricane, they’re not going to be properly represented there. It’s all going to be oriented upwards. There will be some church members, absolutely. But I will be able to go, “That’s internally focused, that’s internally…” And most of things will be internally focused.

[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, you’re pretty close to being 100% right on that. There are some variances here and there.

[PETE TURNER] Sure.

[TODD DEVOE] You know, it’s interesting, because one of the things that we reach out to in the area is the things that’s called the VOAD, the Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster. And then there’s the COAD, which is basically the same thing, I forgot what the “C” stands for, sorry, everybody. I think it’s Community Organizations Active in Disaster.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] That’s what it means. We’ll go with that, and if it’s not, I like it.

[PETE TURNER] I like it.

[TODD DEVOE] And so, we reach out to the VOADs and the COADs and try to build these relationships, but it’s kind of hard for them to be at the meetings we have from 9 to 5 in the morning, because they’re volunteer organizations. So, they work. Let’s talk about Team Rubicon for a minute, it’s a military-based volunteer organization that…

[PETE TURNER] I know William McNulty.

[TODD DEVOE] Right, yeah, yeah. Me too. But the idea though is that the paid staff, obviously, is here in Southern California. Everywhere else, except for, maybe here, I think the regional administrators are paid. But for the most part, it’s a volunteer organization.

[PETE TURNER] Right.

[TODD DEVOE] 90% is volunteer. And it’s hard to ask those guys and girls that are Team Rubicon members to make it to the regional, you know, for us, in Orange County, we have what we call OCEMA, the Orange County Emergency Management Association. Those meetings like that. How do you get volunteers to make it to those meetings and take time out of their day?

[PETE TURNER] Let me ask you this question. Do you wanna go to that meeting? Like, deep down inside, do you wanna go?

[TODD DEVOE] Yes.

[PETE TURNER] Ok, perfect. I love it. A yes and a wink. So, I don’t want to swear in your podcast, so why the hell would anybody else want to? You know? So, here’s the thing. And all this stuff applies like, on the ground and combat zones too, right? I want all your elders to come in here and get your help! We’re gonna help you. And you jam help down people’s throats. It doesn’t work that way. I’ll use the example of active shooter drills, right? Every time, any time the police in general – and I’m very unfair in generalizing – are having problem with community contact, right? There’s people that absolutely love them, there’s people that absolutely hate them. But the people in the middle, they’re not very good at moving them, and why? Because they’re got an institutional ALP problem. Accountability Ladder Problem. Every time you do a police training, you should invite – not ask. Invite. Would you please be my guest and come down? I’m gonna buy you lunch, I wanna show you guys what we’re going. And you invite 10 people. If you get 10, then invite 20. You know? And just work on growing that aspect of it. So, when you do an active shooter drill, have community people come down and witness this, right? I want you to see what we’re doing to keep our kids safe. Please, be my guest. And it’s on whoever owns that part of the plan to bring people in and measure that. That measure of affect is important over the measures of effect. Effect is absolutely important, but look, if you can create a desire to come to these meetings, to participate in some way in training, even if it’s just to observe, even if it’s just to put that message into that group in 50 different neighborhoods, you map that, and now you have the ability to sort of reliably communicate with the community as a whole. So, yeah, the boring meeting that no one wants to go to, and has a (inaudible) that they’re not gonna get.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] Ok, have them come to that, but do something more, you know? Like, ride-alongs are great, but you should be like, we’re bursting at the seams ride-alongs, how do we do more? You know, how do we get more people involved? You are part of the community that I’ve identified, because I’ve got internal people in backup. In combat situations, all of the intel is focused on lethal threat, right? We want their (inaudible), “I wanna find the most influential person in this valley.” And I always say, “It’s you, sir. It’s you, commander.” Right? So, we have to do the same thing internally in police stations and in emergency operations centers. We have to know the non-lethal, the people, the community leaders that do move a thousand people.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] And are connected well. If you’ve got a notable blogger in your area, I know this seems weird, but if they have 60,000 people paying attention to their blog, and most of them are there; in Orange County, in particular. What, 3 million people live here?

[TODD DEVOE] 3.5.

[PETE TURNER] So, there’s bloggers. Heather Dubrow is a celebrity in this area, right? Heather Dubrow’s messaging ability trumps anything anybody else can do in Orange County. So, if she’s like: this is really cool! I went out and the sheriff invited me to go to this active shooter thing. And if she says those words on her shows, exponential awareness of those things, even across the country, at some points. So, we have to get out of the old mode of, “We’re an institution and we’re gonna send out flyers to educate people.” Cause that just doesn’t work.

[TODD DEVOE] Right, right. Yeah, that’s one of the things I try to do prior… we have the emergency community response team, the CERT programs. And we kind of took upon that and built this program, called “Neighbor for neighbor”, where we’re going out to each neighborhood and creating their own… they went as volunteers, they didn’t have to come and join the CERT team if they don’t want to be part of it. But what they’re doing is building each block by block, a network of people that can be there for them in case of anything. Whether it’s a local disaster – and what I mean by local disaster being the little old lady down the street who has to go to the doctor and doesn’t have a ride, and now you’re meeting them. Because that’s what we’re missing in these communities here. Like, 3.5 million people, it’s a hell of an area.

[PETE TURNER] It’s a lot, yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] You don’t know who your neighbor is. You live in condominium complexes, you don’t know who the person who lives above you or below you are.

[PETE TURNER] Right.

[TODD DEVOE] And so, that’s what we’re trying to do with the neighbor for neighbor program, and I think that was pretty successful. And we were able to take that model and push it out. But yeah, it’s still pockets. It hasn’t grown, it’s not all over the place, it’s still pockets. And so, there are some things that we’re doing that try to break down those barriers of the different culture. But it’s definitely difficult. Especially when, I think, we have a generalized culture here in America, where they are looking towards the government for direction and for help. And there’s a really cool commercial, I don’t know who put it together, and it’s two people, they’re on an escalator. Have you seen that one?

[PETE TURNER] No.

[TODD DEVOE] So, they’re going up an escalator and the escalator stops.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] And they start screaming: hello! Help! Help! You know, they don’t try walking up or down the escalator, they’re stuck on the escalator.

[PETE TURNER] Right.

[TODD DEVOE] You know? And the guy is like: don’t worry about it, they’re gonna come soon to help us out, you know?

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] And I think that’s where we are as people, is we get stuck on the escalator, where we could use the stairs, but we just choose not to.

EM-Weekly-EP41 Pete Turner Lessons from A Spy[PETE TURNER] Yeah. Look, I am being critical of the system because I’ve seen the systems not work, right? That’s the point of view that I’m coming from. But you’re right, people do get stuck on the escalator, and how do you get them off? And let me go back to your neighbor for neighbor program. So, this is where culture works in your advantage, right? There are existing systems, networks, that do this already for you. So, and I’m just gonna, off the top of my head, think of some things. I mean, how popular is water polo here in Orange County, right?

[TODD DEVOE] Oh, yeah.

[PETE TURNER] So, you engage all the water polo organizations and say, “hey, we just want to put some messages in, how can we be part of this?” And yeah, it’s a lot of work. You know, you gotta contact a lot of people. But you got 3.5 million people to deal with, so you have to talk to a lot of people. And maybe that’s a whole different… you budget a whole person on… look, social media, right? If your Twitter account isn’t growing, if your blog presence isn’t growing, as an emergency management organization, then you have a problem. You’re not communicating well.

[TODD DEVOE] Let’s step outside of the Orange County, Southern California area, right?

[PETE TURNER] Sure, ok.

[TODD DEVOE] Cause I mean, this is what we know pretty well, but let’s go to middle of the country…

[PETE TURNER] Sure, yeah, let’s do it.

[TODD DEVOE] Montana.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah, flyover states. Yes.

[TODD DEVOE] How does that…

[PETE TURNER] I love Montana.

[TODD DEVOE] I do too, it’s a beautiful place.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah, I was just there last week.

[TODD DEVOE] So, how does the emergency manager in Montana, whose population is going to be way lower than us, and the idea to reach out to these people. How do they get those people involved? Montana was a location of one of the largest earthquakes in the United States, right? It’s a (inaudible), literally.

[PETE TURNER] It is, it is, yeah. It is! This is a great question. And you know, you have to know your community to know where the people are gonna move from. What is the culture of Montana? My aunt and I had this discussion last week, where “fill in the blank” department store wanted to come in and take over some of the older brands that were not working, and so they were going to fill that up, but they didn’t know how to buy clothes from Missoula. You know? So, it’s like, not just jackets, this kind of jacket that’s gonna sell well, and it took them a couple of years before they got the vibe of what would sell. It’s great to sell clothes from Southern California, but that doesn’t work in Missoula. So, you’ve gotta adapt to the culture that’s present there, and if you don’t know, that’s where the work begins. That’s when you go out and you realize, look, it’s Montana. There’s a lot of Mormons there, and Mormons are great at this, right? So go engage them, and find out what’s going on. And you find the elder and you say, “Listen, from your stake, I want to make sure you guys know how we’re ready for these things, I want you to be my guest and come out,” and then ask them. You snowball it out. This is all spy stuff. Who else should I invite? Who else is an important leader that needs to see these messages, so that when the escalator stops, you all know to call me? I’m the sheriff, I want you to call me directly, or call my deputy directly. You’ve got a friend in the force, you’ve got a friend in the sheriff’s department. If we don’t build those things, then… these stuff works in rural Afghanistan, so it’s gonna work in Missoula, it’s gonna work in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. We have things that we can do, we have to use the culture of that area. And I would submit that most of these emergency managers are from there, or are going to be able to quickly adapt to what does work. And I use church as an example a lot, because a lot of folks go to church.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] You know, but the ranchers all have, you know, an association of some kind. I don’t mean like, the Rancher’s Association, but they do something together. They meet, and people congregate in certain areas. Not everybody, but if you’re getting the bulk of the people, you know, you’re doing the bulk of the work.

[TODD DEVOE] You know, one of the assignments I gave my student is, you’re in charge of volunteer management, that type of thing, for your community.

[PETE TURNER] Right.

[TODD DEVOE] You know, how would you reach… who do you use for volunteers, how would you reach out to them? And this last assignment, I had one of my students put down that they would reach out the Greenpeace. And I was like, huh. That is an interesting choice of who you use as a volunteer organization, and I asked – he hasn’t got back to me yet, and I asked him, why Greenpeace? You know, what skills do they have that you think that you’d want to use in a disaster? But the thing that got me thinking about that, that is a brilliant way to think outside the box. Because like, you know, I always… you know, Chamber of Commerce is one of the ones you always go to, right? Because they have a vested interest in making sure the recovery of your city comes back, right?

[PETE TURNER] Right.

[TODD DEVOE] (inaudible) also, these community churches are always a great example, because there’s some groups or ministries, they call them, they’re gonna be involved. And then the service clubs, the Kiwanis’s club, the Elks club…

[PETE TURNER] VFW.

[TODD DEVOE] VFW.

[PETE TURNER] All those things.

[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, those clubs that are out there. There’s always those organizations to go to.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] And what I say, this is what I teach in my class. I told my students, I said, “Find your key organization, whatever that one is for your community.” So, for like, you know, where I live, it’s either going to be the Lion’s Club or the Rotary Club.

[PETE TURNER] Ok.

[TODD DEVOE] Those are the two that are key organizations. That’s where the politicians come out of, if you’re part of the city council, you’re part of the Rotary Club or the Lion’s Club. You know what I mean?

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] Those are the ones… you know, some of them have other clubs around the area, but you should find those key organizations, the ones you have to belong to, and those are the ones that you need to reach out to, to help.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah. I would even put more emphasis there. And I know that nobody wants to hear that, but I would say yes, Lion’s Club, Kiwanis Club, JCs, the youth element of those, the Key Club and all those things. Because if you get kids passionate about it, you know, they’re gonna beat their parents up: why don’t we have five gallons of water? Or whatever the thing is gonna be. You know, you have to engage. And that’s… look, I talk a lot about affect over effect, and it freaks people out, because they say, “Affect is a verb!” Affect is also a noun, right? And if you can create passion, if you can create action, if you can get people to come toward your organization, it doesn’t… the effect will follow affect. I mean, look, here’s how I explain it. If I write you 15 love letters, doesn’t mean you’re gonna love me; that’s effect-based. And if I do things that make you look at me and gaze into my eyes, you know, I can sense that I’m wooing you, if I do that, say, 15 times, much more powerful in terms of getting the thing that I want, right? So, we have to engage. And I’m also big on this, where is the work, right? Like, what doesn’t work. I talk to these 25 different agencies, and I just go: well, that’s where the work is. The work is in building the relationship there and building your audience, so that when you put a message into it, you get a reflection back. We can’t be focused on broadcasting. You can’t just turn up louder and say, “But we put our flyers. But we have a meeting, and no one came.” That’s a communication. When no one shows up, you’re getting a no-value back.

[TODD DEVOE] Right, right.

[PETE TURNER] So you have to change your message.

[TODD DEVOE] Yes.

[PETE TURNER] Not turn it up, change the message. How do we get to these people? Who has an audience? Heather Dubrow has an audience. I’m gonna see if I can talk to Heather Dubrow, and I’m gonna appeal to her kind nature, and wanting to, you know, help her community out. And every community has someone that has a big audience. So, grab these people, leverage them. And create the effect that you want, you know?

[TODD DEVOE] When you talk about communication, and it’s such… my nephew, he’s deaf.

[PETE TURNER] Ok.

[TODD DEVOE] He’s actually an amazing kid, I wish he could hear this, because I do (inaudible) a little bit. But he’s a fire fighter, a volunteer fire fighter in upstate New York. He actually was the fire fighter of the year for his company, so…

[PETE TURNER] Look at that!

[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, so you know…

[PETE TURNER] He’s great, yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] Right? But go back to the thing. I could yell at him as loud as I want.

[PETE TURNER] Right.

[TODD DEVOE] And that boy won’t hear me.

[PETE TURNER] Absolutely. And this is like, I like to use, unfairly, of course, a Texas accent. And like, if you go: “No, you’re not listening to me! I’m going to yell louder and slower!” Like, that person is not going to hear you. So, what we’re doing, every time you do something, you should think: how am I going to involve the community in this today? If every day, as an emergency manager, as a sheriff, as fire chief; if the three of those people met someone new every day, and invited, “Ride along with me today. Take a day off, let me buy you lunch, and come ride along with me.” And if you get those, that’s where your work begins. You know, all right, how do I figure this out? Who can I invite? And then, tell that person: did you have fun today? Make sure they have a good time, be likeable. You know, be a person that is a resource to somebody else. And if you don’t do that, if the three of them don’t do that, then you’ve not met over 1,000 people between the three people.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] So, even in the small department. I mean, the mayor knows a lot of people, right? Go to the mayor and say, “Look, this is what we have to do, I have to get these messages out. Among your peers, your constituents, who is connected well? I want to invite that person to come along.” You know? And just work on these things, so that all of the hard work that we’re doing, all of the planning and all of the training, good grief! You know, that’s a lot of stuff there. So, I use an example, in Iraq, we would teach and train the local police to do all these incredible things. They were giving IVs, they were doing hand-to-hand combat, learning how to fingerprint, all this incredible stuff. I go on the ground and I start talking to locals, and I’m really good at asking questions, I boil it down, but basically, I would say, “Who do you call when there’s trouble? When the wolf’s at the door, who are you gonna call?” “My cousin, my brother, my neighbor. That guy on the street that’s got that blue pickup truck.” Never the cops. So you have all this training, all this hard work, and then you talk to the cops. What’s the skill that you think it’s the coolest that you have? “I don’t have any skill, no one cares about me.” Like, I just saw you whoop some guy’s butt and give him (inaudible)! “I can’t do that. That’s just for you guys.” Are you kidding me? You know? So, when you go back to the commander, you’re like: these guys don’t even know they have the ability to fingerprint. They don’t believe it themselves; how in the world is the population going to call these guys? So, these are problems that, again, they’re institutional. It’s the (inaudible) college, right? Everybody knows the doctrine. Everybody knows like, the theory. But let’s see him apply it. So, you have to get ground-based. Have to, have to, have to. And if you’re not sure how to do it, call me on the phone, I’m glad to help you, you know? I mean, this is the thing. You can have all the plans you want, but no kidding, who’s going to follow it? You know, what if we could get that number, instead of blow 5%? What if you can get it to 8%?

[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, I actually think it’s… a last study that was done somewhere, like around, 1% for three days.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] You know?

[PETE TURNER] Right. I mean, how much greater is that escalator problem because of that? You know? And it’s something that simple to do. I don’t know how long water lasts in a sealed container. Should I get rid of it every 90 days? Every… I don’t know. You know, and I know I can go find those things, but it’s just not important to me. Now, if I had someone who I cared about, saying, “I care about you, I really need you to think about these things, do me the favor and put… I don’t know, whatever, I case of chili in your garage,” or whatever it’s gonna be, then you can check on that and see what kind of progress you have. You can have little test beds, you know? It’s ok if you don’t have it, but let me know. Have you done any of these things? No, I haven’t. That’s where the work begins. If I can’t get this person, my friend, to do this, how in the world am I going to get a stranger to do it?

[TODD DEVOE] Oh yeah, I mean, this problem is really… I mean, as far as preparedness in general for the community, it’s one of those things that we’ve been struggling with for years.

[PETE TURNER] Let’s be honest, it’s not struggling, it’s failing.

[TODD DEVOE] It’s failing.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] Yeah.

[PETE TURNER] We’re failing to come up with a way to do it. And if we handle it from that point, we all want to do better, we all try. But the reality is, if we handled other aspects of our lives at that level, we would be like, “This is dumb.” Like, I wanna be a quarterback on the NFL. It ain’t happening, no matter how much I try.

[TODD DEVOE] Right. You know, it’s funny you talk about that. I mean, you know, looking at hurricane Sandy.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] You know, I remember at one point there were people… these are, you know, and this sounds terrible to say it this away, but these are your typical upper-middle class people, living on upper West side, and they’re eating food out of a dumpster.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] You know? Probably something they’ve never done in their lives. Because they didn’t have any food or water inside their homes, you know what i mean? And so, they were not prepared, and they expected somebody to come on their white horse to save them, and they weren’t coming, and they had to go get food.

[PETE TURNER] Right.

[TODD DEVOE] You know?

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] So, I mean.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah. These are the things. And then you take the flip side, and I have a lot of friends in South Florida that still live there, and I was texting them as the hurricane’s hitting them, and they’re like: we still have power, you know, generator’s ready to go, everything is boarded up, I’ve got hurricane glass, you know. I think it’s nasty, we’ll not be in the front room. But they’re fine. They’re actually not going to evac. Like, evac order comes, like, that’s great, we know what we’re doing. And the whole community made sure that, you know, everybody… cause you know, maybe someone’s husband is out of town and he can’t come back to town. That person is gonna be fine. They’re gonna be boarded up, everybody is gonna be taken care of. You know, they always say like, the happiest line is the line at the liquor store, and the most angry line is the line at the gas station. But there’s lines in both those places getting provisions. And then if the hurricane misses them, you know, I want to be in Tennessee. I can’t miss work, and I have things to do, I can’t be in Tennessee and the hurricane misses. Cause they’ve seen that, right? So, as an emergency manager, you have to go, these people are gonna stay. What do we do for them? How do we help them? The folks that are gonna live, of course, you’re dealing with them too. But that’s the reality.

[TODD DEVOE] So many issues that we’re having, specifically with Irma, right, is the Keys that got devastated, and they didn’t have any power, right?

[PETE TURNER] Right.

[TODD DEVOE] And then, just a few miles up the road, you had guys that were prepared and had generators and stuff like that, and they were just doing things like a regular day. It’s kind of interesting in that aspect.

[PETE TURNER] When I first moved there, I was like, “What do we do? I don’t understand any part of this hurricane stuff.” And they kept telling me, “Don’t worry about it. We all have it.” What about gas? “Don’t worry about that, you don’t do that now, you do that later.” They already had a system, already in place, and they knew like, “Once they shut this down, the Intercoastal shuts and everybody comes out of there, because that’s crazy to stay out there.” But there’s still people that will try to stay out. You know, so they had this whole infrastructure already built where they were resilient on their own, and they knew what they needed to do, and they were accounting for. Were they 100% accountable and resilient? No, of course not. But it’s a lot different, because that’s a reality for them. And for the Keys people, unless you’re new to that area, and you know, you don’t pay attention to your neighbors, you’re going to be fine. I remember Janet Reno wrote about her and her mom hunkering down out in the Keys, because that’s where they were from, or whatever, they had a house. And they were just like, yeah, we buttoned up, and got low, and started picking up (inaudible) the next day. They know how to do it. Because that’s the cultural requirement of that area. Same thing in (inaudible). Those folks don’t need rescuing, right? Being left alone, and they tell you, you know?

[TODD DEVOE] That’s funny, because there’s some mixed reports coming out in Puerto Rico with the same thing. There’s some people that are really devastated. Hospitals and stuff like that were down. That’s the key part about it, getting those things back up and running was like, the key infrastructure, right?

[PETE TURNER] Yeah, right.

[TODD DEVOE] Hospitals, roads, things like these. But for the most part, the people that weren’t sick or whatever, they were…

[PETE TURNER] Back to work.

[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, back to doing their thing.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] The power wasn’t on, but they figured out how to do it, and they’re survivors, at the end of the day. But yeah, in the city, San Juan, for instance, was really, really, kind of screwed. Because they’re city people. So, the experience for the city people was way different than the experience for the people into the “bush”, for lack of a better term.

[PETE TURNER] Right, yeah. Up on the side of the hill, it’s a different game, for sure. And they got hammered. Really bad. And when the key infrastructure is failing, you know, you’re talking about a significant problem, for sure, for anybody. And you’re just trying to mitigate at that point. I think. I mean, I’m not an expert in that field, but if the hospital is down and there’s no power, that becomes a really high priority, you know?

[TODD DEVOE] Right. I’m just reading some stuff, and obviously, I’m not in the ground over there, I’m just reading reports. But it seemed like the focus should have been, or still is, on getting the hospitals and infrastructure back up and running. I think once that gets up and running again, everybody is gonna be back to normal. It will take a few years to rebuild some of the buildings and stuff like that, but the key portion of it it’s going to be ok.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah, you can get care when you need it. Yeah, and you’re talking, you know, just like if we had a major earthquake here, there would be a thing of, how do we keep this building standing up? How do we get people out of this building? And there’s going to be a lot of other people like, we need help too, but at a lower level.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] And you gotta manage that for 3+ million people or whatever. It does get crazy. And I’m not… you know, understand. I’m critical, but I’m critical because I know that there are paths to do the things that we want to do, and if we get this part of the equation right, but don’t get the other part of the equation right, we end up becoming a net destabilizer in these situations.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] So, we got to get away from that destabilization model, we got to get away from the fear-based model. You know?

[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, I agree with you. I think the fear-based model is terrible. I think it makes the people get stuck on the escalator, because they just don’t know what to do, so they’re like: I’m gonna stand here, because I don’t know what else to do.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah. And it’s overwhelming. I mean, a podcast like this is great, because you can start to create, even for other emergency managers like, “I’m overwhelmed, I give up. I’m gonna get paid, I’m gonna do what I gotta do, and hopefully, nothing happens.” I mean, that’s a real outcome for people, and it’s a real outcome for the population. Like, I don’t know. If there’s an earthquake, what the hell am I gonna do? I don’t know when it’s gonna be. Ok, we’ve got go-bags in all of our cars in our family, but I would bet that we’re the only family in the block with that. Not because we’re better, but just because my girls care about that, and I’ve been shot at a whole bunch, so I know what it’s like. I need stuff in case something happens. So, I’ve always got a towel, I’ve always got a poncho, I’ve always got these things. So that I can take care of myself. But I’ve been in really bad places, where I’ve had to – not eat out of the dumpster, but I’ve had to make those kinds of choices between something horrible and something worse, and you’re like, “Wow”. You know, if I would have had a sterno can, I could have some heat to make this food hot. Or whatever it’s gonna be, whatever simple thing it is, so I would not have these provisions laid out for myself. So, easier said than done, for sure.

[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, and you know, it’s funny. As emergency managers, we tell our citizens, “Hey, be prepared. Be ready, be prepared, be ready. Do this, do this, do this.” And then, at the same time, we mock those people that they call themselves “preppers”. You know, “Those guys are ridiculous.”

[PETE TURNER] Right.

[TODD DEVOE] But aren’t we selling that? Aren’t we telling everybody to…

[PETE TURNER] Yeah. And also, competing with all the other crap I have to do, I can’t drink out of a plastic bottle; I have to work out; NSNG. I’m out of things, I’m out of things that I get to care about. So, you’re competing with a very big message, and complex too. Like, what’s prepared? When do I know? How do I know? What if I’m an OCD person who needs to do it perfectly to get it even started?

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] Right? I mean, there’s always things that you have to account for or not account for them. But understanding and competing for their awareness, for sure.

[TODD DEVOE] Right. And then you’re competing with pop culture, like we always have been, and those things are really exciting and important. And whoever won the last Emmy awards or whatever.

[PETE TURNER] Right!

[TODD DEVOE] I have to watch…

[PETE TURNER] And you can, you know, the population can tell us, I don’t know, what happened on Game of Thrones. But who can tell me the last Nobel Prize winner for Physics?

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] One of those two things is way more important than the other.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] You know? And it’s never the Physics guy. You know? Literally. So, we all know all these other things that don’t matter. You’re competing for that awareness.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] And if you don’t compete in a way that… this is why you want to work within their culture, instead of building your own. You know, cultures are you experience it, not as you design it. And if you design something, again, you’re internally focused. So, neighbor for neighbor is a good idea. And let’s do that, let’s continue to do it, but let’s also look, whenever we can, to make neighbor for neighbor an add-on to Lacrosse.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] Football. Whatever it’s gonna be. You know? And getting involved, and communicate, not broadcast.

[TODD DEVOE] Speaking about that, Major League Baseball this year, during the World Series, I think did a really good job. Because they’re in Houston. I mean, it happened. They did a great job of highlighting that disaster response, and specifically, Team Rubicon.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah.

[TODD DEVOE] Donating money to them for their cause.

[PETE TURNER] I love the whole Team Rubicon concept too. Yeah. And I think all those organizations do a good job of that, and then the whole “fill in the blank” Strong, Houston Strong, Boston Strong, like, all of that stuff helps create awareness and everything. Yeah, I mean, you just don’t want to have to be the one that fills in the blank, you know?

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] Orange County Strong. Something will happen, but yeah. Major League Baseball did great, and William McNulty and those guys are incredible. They give us, veterans, something to do. Here’s a chainsaw, get to work. Ok, I have a purpose. Man, when I first came back, I needed a purpose like nobody’s business, you know? So, it’s a great way to do that. Let’s keep doing more of those things.

[TODD DEVOE] Yeah. And they do a great job. Everybody who’s been listening to this for a while knows that I’m involved with Team Rubicon at the level here, in California, region 9, but you know, it’s a good program. It really is a good program. And they’re reaching out. And it’s funny, because we were just talking about this the other day, that it used to be like, 90% veteran. I think their L.A. got 65% veterans now.

[PETE TURNER] That’s good, yeah. It’s good.

[TODD DEVOE] It’s branching out.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah, it’s branching out. Because there are people that want to help, you know? And they have time, and they’re like, “I am going to hop on this plane and go to this place or whatever.”

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

[TODD DEVOE] Well hey, so we’re getting here, close to the end of the podcast, and I just wanted you to talk about your podcast.

[PETE TURNER] Oh, sure.

[TODD DEVOE] Tell us what you’re doing.

[PETE TURNER] Which podcast should we talk about? I’ve got a bunch of them.

[TODD DEVOE] I think… I like the Lakers one, but…

[PETE TURNER] Yeah, I do have a Lakers podcast, called Lakers Reign, and it’s @LakersReignPod on Twitter. You can always reach me and ask me any… legitimately, please, reach out and ask me. @PeteATurner on Twitter, you can find me. Link with me on LinkedIn, I’m not hard to find. But my main podcast is called Break It Down Show, and we get really notable people. We’re gonna have Randy Jackson on soon.

[TODD DEVOE] Oh, great.

[PETE TURNER] From American Idol. We’ve had Steward Copeland, from the police, he’s been on our show. So, we’re just past 200, we’re about to pass 200 shows on Friday.

[TODD DEVOE] Congratulations.

[PETE TURNER] Yeah, thanks, man. So, a good place to go for great podcast stuff. If you like technology, I’ve got one of those. But the biggest thing I would encourage people to do is just reach out. You know, I am linked to a lot of emergency managers on LinkedIn, and if you want ideas, I’m glad to consult for money; but I will also do whatever I can to go (inaudible). And if you need my help, great. You know? I accept all forms of payment. Not Diner’s Club.

[TODD DEVOE] Not Diner’s Club?

[PETE TURNER] No.

[TODD DEVOE] But you take Starbucks Card?

[PETE TURNER] I would. I would. You know what, I absolutely would take Starbucks Cards. I absolutely would help and I would do everything I can to be as cost-effective as I can, but I know that what I do works, because I’ve done it in places that are way worse than wherever we’re at.

[TODD DEVOE] Right.

[PETE TURNER] So, those are the things. Ask questions, I’m glad to help out. Break It Down Show, at breakitdownshow.com. Poppin the Bubbl. These are the places where my podcasts are. I’m passionate about what you guys are doing. I mean, obviously, this is important work. Obviously. And I hope that we can all hold ourselves to a high standard, because that one person that we help is gonna make all the difference, you know? And I wanna make – this is one of the things that I’ve been thinking about. I wanna make first responders one and a half responders, because you respond to yourself, you know? Self-aid is the first aid.

[TODD DEVOE] Sure.

[PETE TURNER] And your buddy aid is the next. And then, hopefully, the first responder there is like, “Oh! You already got a poncho? Man! This is great! I wanna sit here and have a dip, relax.” So, I mean, we all want to get to the same place, let’s rethink how we approach, and let’s think affect first. How do we get the affects that we want?

[TODD DEVOE] Perfect. Well, everybody, thank you for listening today. Like I said before, please, share this with your friends, family, colleagues, and whoever else you think could get something out of it. Pete, thank you so much for being here.

[PETE TURNER] My pleasure.

[TODD DEVOE] Before I let you go, is there anything you want to add?

[PETE TURNER] You’ve heard it all. Communicate, affect over effect, and ask Pete. I will help.

Links

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/pete-turner-37a44354

Twitter: PeteATurner

Email: pete_a_turner@yahoo.com

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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.

2 Comments

  1. Great interview. Being fairly new to emergency management, and never really looking to in-depth into the outreach and establishment of open communications with the local community. Your guest Pete Turner definitely opened my eyes on the importance of forming these relationships, and creating awareness prior to any disasters.

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