State of Ready believes in establishing partners in Emergency Management in order to “shake hands before a disaster, rather than pointing fingers after.” Partners come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and abilities. You should seek out as many diverse partners, with various skill sets to allow you to be fully prepared for planning, responding, and recovery to events.
It is important to recognize that the role of an Emergency Manager is to have the 30,000 foot aerial view of what is happening and play air traffic controller to assist responders helping people. We play the role of assisting cities, counties, states, and the federal government to respond to events by providing information, support, technology, and guidance to resources. One of the first steps is establishing or writing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to allow each agency to know what their responsibilities are during an event.
You should be familiar with public agencies such as local law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical services, and emergency management agencies within your local area. If you are not, now is the time to introduce yourself and make a connection either in person, or using social media. You can also make the connections you are going to need during a major event with Public Health, Public Works, Animal Control, Transportation agencies, National Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, and National Weather Service (NWS) and National Office of Atmospheric Admininstration (NOAA). If you do not have friends in NWS or NOAA make them. They allow you to know what is coming your way well in advance to help you prepare for the event before it strikes. You can preposition responding agencies, equipment, and short supply chains needed to recover quicker for your community. If you go meet them and introduce yourself, find out where they publish information online and follow them at Twitter.
Also make friends and get to know people in the private sector. You will need to know members of private healthcare organizations, UAS/drone operators, transit providers which include trains, buses, and possibly package delivery systems like UPS, and FedEx. If you do not know how to fly a drone, get to know someone who does, and make sure they know the rules of how to operate during a critical event. Drones can provide information used in response, recovery and imaging of areas in need. Also don’t forget to look to private satellite companies which can provide valuable before and after photos like Planet Labs.
We encourage you to think about up and coming responsibilities of Emergency Management to establish relationships with geographic information systems (GIS) and technology providers in your area, or look to them for potential jobs working to establish continuation of operations during a critical events. This also means preparing for an event by storing information on a cloud system either Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box in an effort to make sure plans are accessible from any locations.
Construction and debris management companies are critical partners which help remove garbage, and deal with sanitation issues to help you prevent disease from having an outbreak. They can work hand in hand with partners in different fields to clear the way for other valuable resources to arrive from Tide (Loads of Hope), or Budweiser delivery of water from local bottling facilities.
Finally, we talked last week about CERT teams and National VOAD agencies. You can search for yourself for: Habitat for Humanity, Feed The Children, American Red Cross, Mercy Corp, Team Rubicon. Additionally, there are technology apps, and groups like www.Pulsepoint.org, and www.Humanityroad.org to help you respond and be prepared during an event. The ability of faith based organizations which already have a structure in place, including the Adventist Community Services, Mennonite Disaster, allow your community to rebuild and come together in faith at a critical time and it is needed. We also discuss the need to be prepared to support “spontaneous volunteers like the Cajun Navy, and Crowdsource Rescue.
We encourage you to think about the lessons learned about Partners in Emergency Management above specifically thinking about:
- Numerous agencies to be a part of as a partner
- If you’re interested in emergency management, you can find a place
- Each agency business comes into play at different times.
- Technology is creating a new round of volunteer opportunities
- You don’t have to be in the affected area to respond
- Out of sight agencies/businesses and include them in planning before an incident.