Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter
October 2010

In This Issue
Planning for Catastrophe
Professional Development
Life Balance for Emergency Managers
From the Bookshelf

Featured White Paper


Planning for Catastrophe

Rethinking Complex Events

Catastrophe - even the word sounds ominous, conjuring up visions of a world-ending apocalypse.  Since Hurricane Katrina it's a word that's been used a lot and a great deal of time, effort, and money has been spent on planning for catastrophes.

Just what is a catastrophe and can you really plan for something as big as the word seems to imply?



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Welcome to the October issue of Emergency Management Solutions

October 17 was the anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake here in San Francisco. I've also been doing a lot of research on volcanoes in preparation for a presentation at next month's IAEM conference. The combination of the two has made me think about catastrophic planning, a topic that has been very popular over the past few years.
Since September is National Preparedness Month in the Unit the result is this month's white paper on catastrophic planning.

Several of you were kind enough to write me about last month's article on life balance for emergency managers. As a result, I'm going to devote a section of my newsletter to it each month for a while.

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

Professional Development 

 In last month's article on life balance I discussed the importance of sharing the load with colleagues. One of the best ways I've found to do that is by attending conferences. However, with all the conferences out there, how do you choose the best one for you?
  1. Start by asking why you want to attend a specific conference. Some conferences are geared to developing specific skills you need for job; others focus on the specific sector within which you work. So is your attendance to learn a new skill, keep current with your professional colleagues or just to network and make you contacts.
  2. Next, take a look at the agenda. I've seen a lot of conferences that sounded pretty good until I saw the list of topics and the speakers. Beware of those that are little more than marketing opportunities - you can usually spot these by noting a certain vagueness in conference objectives and no direct relationship among the session topics.
  3. Finally, look at the cost. If the conference is free, check out who is sponsoring it - it might be just a sales pitch. If the cost is high, are you really getting your money's worth?
Alternatively, you could just attend the International Association of Emergency Managers conference in San Antonio next month. Hope to see you there!

Life Balance for Emergency Managers 
When was the last time you took some time off? As emergency managers, we sometimes feel that if we're not present, things will not happen. The result is we never take time off and a number of us end up losing accrued time off or selling it back. This is a dangerous mindset. It's dangerous because we can't be sure we'll be there for the next crisis and we need to have people available who can fill in for us. It's also dangerous personally as you really need periodic downtime to stay healthy. Ours is a stressful job and stress kills. So stop thinking your so indispensable and schedule a vacation. Your body and your family will thank you for it.

From the Bookshelf
Truly catastrophic events are characterized by significant social, political and economic changes that can have ripple effects for generations. In Catastrophe: A Quest for the Origins of the Modern World, David Keys argues that a volcanic eruption in 535 CE may have sparked world wide climate changes that resulted in widespread famine and plague. This in turn created political disruption and migrations that changed history. While some of his positions seem a bit of a reach, the book is thought provoking and an interesting look at the cascading effect of a single event.

Speaking Engagements
September 25: Practical Preparedness (keynote), Codexis, Inc. Safety Day, Redwood City, CA

September 27: Teambuilding in an Uncertain World (keynote), Illinois Public Mutual Aid Network, Peoria, IL

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.