An Evolution Here and Everywhere
A broader discussion
Redefining this space for Emergency Planning gives us permission, in fact challenges us, to broaden our conversations and thinking to better reflect the complexities of planning for untoward events in the 21st century. The modern field of emergency planning covers everything from shelter and evacuation issues in our schools, to IT and cyber security, infectious diseases, business continuity planning, and even Twitter and Facebook as crisis communication tools in the workplace. And because we are all inextricably connected as part of the fabric of our communities (in emergency planning parlance many of our organizations are “critical infrastructures”), we will also include community and regional level issues in our discussions.
Emergency planning always begins with life safety as its first priority, something that has not changed. However, it is far bigger than that. We now understand that we can save lives, but if we have lost the physical infrastructure that supports transportation, information and communication, our supply chains—or our businesses, the engines that fuel our economy—then we have lost the larger battle to save our communities. An empty victory to be certain.
Some of the areas of discussion this broader topic of emergency planning opens up for us are (in no particular order): organizational emergency planning; incident management teams; crisis communications; food system safety and security; evacuation and shelter in the context of chemical, biological and other causes; hazard mitigation; aggression management and violence in the workplace; personal and household preparedness; business continuity planning; disaster exercising as a tool; regulatory and legal issues in emergency planning and more.
In future columns, we will discuss emergency planning issues that are timely and relevant to our organizational readers, and provide reliable information and resources as takeaway tools for you. Please feel free to submit your questions and topics for future discussions to me at CEMA@cema.biz, noting GLBM in the subject line.
Look inward as well
A final thought: If your own organization still views the role and responsibilities that relate to its ongoing welfare simply as security, you may want to consider a similar reconfiguration. How you define the role and responsibilities for those individuals may be artificially limiting both their activities in your behalf, and also more crucially, the strategic thinking that will keep your staff, visitors and facilities safe and secure in the future.
If your current staff come primarily from the world of security/law enforcement as is often the case, there are quality programs available locally through Michigan State Police, Emergency Management & Homeland Security Division, and online through FEMA, to help them round out their skills and better serve you.
Online resources related to this discussion:
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
For more information, keywords to Google: emergency planning, preparedness, disaster plan, business continuity
Joe DeFors is a cofounder and principal officer of Comprehensive Emergency Management Associates, Inc. (CEMA). CEMA is a full-service emergency planning firm based in East Lansing specializing in planning, training and emergency exercising.