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Emergency Planning

By Craig Martelle | April 27, 2006

This is not a completely shameless plug for the Strategic Outlook Institute regarding emergency planning and crisis management, but the need is obvious, as shown over the past five years. Chertoff stated this need specifically in a speech in Orlando earlier this month.

I wrote an Op/Ed piece for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette just a few days after Katrina hit, when FEMA was under fire regarding the role of FEMA and who is really responsible for emergency planning and initial crisis management. Not surprisingly, Chertoff's comments eight months later mirror my own from back in September. Finger pointing went on right away, but that was because of the complete failure of the people in power - their welfare state mentality deprived them of the ability to make do for themselves.

Planning begins right at home. Whether liberal or conservative, do you really want to hand over everything to the government so that they can take care of you? Where is the ACLU in this one? We should not offer up our liberties so easily. An emergency begins before there ever is an emergency. Pilots spend more time learning what to do in case of an emergency than in actually flying the plane. There's a good reason for this.

Organizations like the Strategic Outlook Institute (shameless plug here) help businesses and small city governments in their planning, training, and managing a crisis. The initilal review includes identifying vulnerabilities and what is most important to the business/community. The golden rule applies that if you try to protect everything, you protect nothing. Cost-based analyses start the process of making the hard decisions. If you have enough money, then you can protect an awful lot, but very, very few can foot this kind of emergency plan. Then once the cost-based analysis is done, preparation begins (although these can and should be done concurrently to give the governmental budgeting process as much time as necessary to acquire essentials) by identifying the key players, communications, and resources. Neighbors make great resources as they will have something you need and vice versa. So sign some exchange agreements with your neighbors, to be activated in case of ab emergency. Then start planning an exercise regimen. FEMA recommends a 12-24 month training cycle with five different levels of exercises. I received weeks of FEMA training in exercise development and implementation at FEMA's Maryland training facility (not far from Camp David).

Chertoff probably could learn a thing or two by attending a FEMA course for executives. By the way, when I was in training at the FEMA facility, Brown showed up and was given the grand tour. This was well before Katrina - the bags under his eyes were not so-well developed at that point. And this should give you an indicator of what a lack of preparation will do to you.