Emergency Management Solutions Newsletter

July 2011

In This Issue
White Paper
Disaster Preparedness Video Series
Professional Development
Life Balance for Emergency Managers
From the Bookshelf
Speaking Engagements

Public Relations and the "Yuck" Factor


A Case Study

Art Botterell's Fourth Law of Emergency Management tells us that "Perception is Reality." Sometimes we find ourselves doing things not because they are absolutely necessary but because we wish to allay public concern.  This was certainly the case in Y2K where public concern far exceeded our assessments of the risk to public safety.

I experienced the same thing during the electric power crisis in California in 2000-2001. Based on our analysis of the problem, the rotating power outages posed little threat to public safety. We knew where and when they would occur and how long they would last. However, public concern was high so we needed to do a lot of outreach and have a very visible response mechanism.

Allaying public concern is an important aspect in our line of work. However, sometimes we can take it too far.


Disaster Preparedness Video Series 

Part 3

Staying Safe
Staying Safe

This is the third video in the Golden Gate Regional Center Disaster Preparedness video series for the developmentally disabled. This video describes actions to take to stay safe in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

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Welcome to the July issue of Emergency Management Solutions.


This month's whitepaper is a case study that considers how far we should let assumed public reaction guide our decisions.


This month's video is the third  in the Golden Gate Regional Center's series of videos fostering preparedness in the developmentally disabled community. This video describes actions that can be taken in the immediate aftermath of a disaster to help keep you safe.
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, Canton on Emergency Management.
Lucien Canton

Professional Development 


In the classic movie, Casablanca, Claude Rains utters the famous line, "Round up the usual suspects!" When things start to go south on you, do you have a list of the "usual suspects"? One of the things that I learned early in my career was that in any group there are people whose reliability far exceeds their role in your plans. These were people on whose advice and judgement I relied heavily, without regard to their official title. They were my secret weapon and the first people I contacted in a crisis.


When you're trying to build a program you don't just need department or agency represenatives. You're looking for a champion to help push your program. The people that I trusted were passionate believers in what they were doing and, indeed, sometimes pushed me to accomplish things I didn't believe could be done. 


So give some thought to your "usual suspects". Make the list; cultivate their friendship. You never know when you're going to need them.

Life Balance for Emergency Managers 

You may have heard the story of the Emperor Penguin found on the coast of New Zealand a few weeks back. This plucky bird had somehow managed to cross some 2000 miles of ocean to an environment that was not hospitable to his species. Not being Walt Disney, I'm not going to ascribe some human motivation to this poor penguin. But I do think he offers a reminder that nothing is truly impossible if we have the courage to keep going.
Being an emergency manager is a lonely job sometimes and it's easy to get depressed and lose your way. Keeping things in perspective and always seeking to make forward progress can help you over the rough spots. Like our penguin, you may not always end up in the best of all possible places but you just might  accomplish something remarkable just the same.
From the Bookshelf 

Ever give much thought to the water you drink? Robert Morris' book The Blue Death: Disease, Disaster, and the Water We Drink will change that. The book traces the history of the battle against water-borne pathogens starting with the cholera epidemic in London in 1853. The chapters on major outbreaks of gastrointestinal disease in the United States read like case studies, with much useful information for emergency planners. Morris, a public health physician and epidemiologist, is critical of our current water systems and makes a strong case for his concerns. This is an excellent source of background material for exercises, particularly for public health planners. 

Speaking Engagements 

September 14: Keynote Address Kansas Emergency Management Association Annual Meeting, Topeka KS



November 15: A Tale of Three Fires: Do We Really Learn from Disasters? International Association of Emergency Managers Conference, Las Vegas NV

Looking for a Speaker?


Need a speaker for your next conference? I offer keynotes, seminars and workshops. You can find more details on my website  or on my new SpeakerMixpage. 


Lucien Canton Seminar Excerpts
Lucien Canton Seminar Excerpts
If you've heard me speak...

...I'd greatly appreciate it if you would take a minute to give me feedback on my SpeakerMix site. Just go to the site and click on the "Write A Review" button. 


Many thanks!

ŠLucien G. Canton  March 2011