Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
August 2010

In This Issue
Practical Emergency Preparedness
Emergency Managers and Life Balance
From the Bookshelf
Speaking Engagements
Featured White Paper

Practical Emergency Preparedness


Four Strategies for Effective Preparedness

September is Emergency Preparedness Month in the United States, a time when we do our best to convince the public that preparedness is something
that they should be doing. Most of our media information will be based on the standard three point message developed by the Red Cross:
  1. Get a kit
  2. Make a plan
  3. Be informed

This is a good message in that it is simple, easy to understand, and covers the basics.

The problem, however, is that while a number of studies show that overall preparedness is increasing in the United States, somewhere around 40 to 45% of our citizens have done nothing to prepare. Maybe it's time we revisited how we're asking people to prepare.  



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Welcome to the September issue of Emergency Management Solutions. My apologies for the tardiness of this edition but between conferences, speaking engagements and some family issues, this month really got away from me.
Since September is National Preparedness Month in the United States, I thought it might be appropriate to look at preparedness from a slightly different perspective. This month's white paper shares some of my thoughts on the subject.
If you are having trouble viewing the white paper, try clicking on the link at the top of the page. Alternatively, you can always find my white paper on my blog site.
Lucien Canton
Emergency Managers and Life Balance 
There's no question that, as emergency managers, we have a stressful job. Interestingly, the most stress I have felt in my career has not been when I was dealing with a crisis. Those were the times when I felt I was doing what I was trained to do and helping others. No, the real stressor was dealing with the bureacracy generated by my own agency or by the system under which I worked. There was never enough time or enough resources to do the job right. The worst part of it was that I never realized how much stress I was under until I switched to a new position.
But somebody did. My wife and family could always tell when I was getting close to the edge. They paid a higher price for my dedication than I did.
As emergency managers, we always see the glass as half empty - there's always more to do. We can't just walk away. Actually, you can. Here are some ideas to consider:
  1. Prioritize your tasks. There are things that are important but not urgent and things that are urgent but not important and you need to know the difference. You're paid to make decisions, so decide what you can accomplish, what you can delegate, and what you just can't accomplish.
  2. Take your lunch and breaks. It's amazing what a walk around the block or a bit raising your blood sugar can do to your perspective.
  3. Once in a while, look behind you. We focus so much on what we need to do, we sometimes forget to acknowledge what we have accomplished. Take time to  do so.
  4. Share the pain. Don't let your work keep you from interacting with your colleagues or attending an important conference. This is how you recharge your batteries and get new ideas.
 Above all, never forget that your job, important as it is, is the support system to the rest of your life and not the reverse.
Of all the factors that determine the success or failure of a response operation, logistics is one of the most critical. Disaster response is ultimately about resources: determining need, obtaining resources, prioritizing limited resources. But surprisingly, it's one of the areas that I find most problematical when I'm working with a client. The problem is that we often confuse the purchasing function with logistics. Purchasing buys resources but logistics is really a cradle-to-grave function. It starts with resource identification and ends either when the item is in the hands of the end user or when that item is returned to inventory. It covers everything in between including transporting, warehousing, staging and distribution.
So as part of your preparedness planning, check your logistics plan. If you're only looking at purchasing, you're setting yourself up for failure.
From the Bookshelf
This month's featured book is not an emergency management book. Get Organized Today: Top experts share strategies that work is anthology of articles by organizing experts. While it's targeted to your home and life, a lot of the ideas translate very well to the office. However, the real gem is the chapter Disasters Happen - Organize for Action Now by JoAnn Scordino, CEM. JoAnn and I worked together at San Francisco OES where she developed a very effective program for encouraging personal preparedness. Her chapter is based on her years of experience in helping communities prepare and, in just nine short pages, provides a blueprint for a comprehensive personal preparedness program. 
Speaking Engagements
September 28: Keeping It Real: Tips for Disaster Preparedness and Recovery, Textile Rental Association of America Convention, Las Vegas, NV
November 1: Forge of the Gods: Volcanoes as the Ultimate Cascading Event,  International Association of Emergency Managers Conference, San Antonio TX.
Need a speaker for your next conference? I offer keynotes, seminars and workshops. You can find more details on my website.