Since the establishment of Civil Defense in the 1950s and continuing into 1979 with the creation of FEMA, there have been hard working planners at all levels and departments of government, in non-profit agencies, community organizations and private sector called Emergency Managers. Since 9/11 and the establishment of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the Emergency Management function has been required by Presidential Directive and under governmental code. And while in some cases the position is a subordinate function under Fire or Law Enforcement where their programs and budget requires they “kiss the ring” for approval and funding, some are lucky enough to have a solid line directly to jurisdictional Policy Groups in the Org Chart where they enjoy management level authority and influence.
NO Emergency Manager regardless of their authority or influence could justify planning and preparing for a Pandemic that literally “blacks out” all services and commerce except Public Health and Government. Proposing to purchase perishable supplies for an entire community, acquiring expensive hospital equipment and taking the time to train personnel for a “doomsday” scenario like we are facing has never been an option as it is not feasible given the real world needs and expectations of the public.
FEMA recognizes that “all disasters are local”. It is up to local government (through their Emergency Managers) to educate and train residents and employees alike that the buck stops in their own back yard. No one knows the local risks and local resources like the locals. When those resources are depleted, cities and towns reach up to counties, regions and then their states to obtain what they need quickly.
We are in a Disaster the likes of which we have never experienced. New territory for every hometown – ALL AT ONCE. The scope of this disaster is such that now the States must reach up to the Federal Government. The Emergency Management process is working – even though its importance has been marginalized. As a result, it has taken time to target and prioritize the issues, ramp up resources and identify the populations at greatest risk and with the greatest need. But we have always been here, working behind the scenes in Emergency Operations Centers, Board Rooms and Community Groups. Emergency Managers are the leads among equals in mitigation, planning, responding to and recovery from disasters. I hope this is a national Lesson Learned from COVID19.
P.S. No, we are not prepared for U.S. Nuclear Holocaust or a widespread Zombie Apocalypse either.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in