Water System Preparedness

For at least the past eight years or so, I’ve kept tabs on what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been doing for emergency preparedness for water systems.  Their efforts, spearheaded from their Water Security Division, include information on comprehensive emergency management activities – mitigation and resilience, surveillance and response, preparedness, and more.  Their website offers a plethora of resources, not only for water utilities and systems operators, but for others as well.  These resources include tools and guidance for conducting risk assessments, creating emergency plans, building resilience, developing a training and exercise plan, and conducting exercises.  These resources and tools all help to de-mystify emergency management systems and help to build a bridge into the emergency management world.  While they provide information on certain hazards, such as flooding or criminal activity, their approach, overall is all-hazards.  The EPA includes links to ICS and other FEMA training, as well as other agencies, and encourages water systems to interact with other agencies at the local, state, and federal level.

Back in November of last year, I gave a review of the TEEX course MGT: 342 Strategic Overview of Disaster Management for Water and Wastewater Utilities.  Those who work with or for water utilities would certainly benefit from attending this training and reviewing the EPA’s Water Security Division website.  Water is an important component of our Critical Infrastructure, with dependencies cascading across all other sectors.  These resources strengthen and support our continued preparedness within these sector, while also adding to whole community preparedness.

The EPA Water Security Division provides a quarterly e-newsletter, to which you can subscribe to stay abreast of their tools, resources, and information.

© 2016 – Timothy M. Riecker, CEDP

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC Your Partner in Preparedness

A Review and 3 Highlights of the DHS Active Shooter Preparedness Workshop

Last month I had the opportunity to attend a day-long active shooter workshop in Rochester, NY conducted by the DHS Office of Infrastructure Protection.  The focus was awareness of, preparedness for, and response to an active shooter event, with a lean towards a facilities-based audience rather than public safety.

The workshop began with discussions on recognition, then worked through each of the five mission areas (Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response, and Recovery).  The primary speaker was excellent, with real-world experience in active shooter situations.  While they referred to the offering as a pilot, the workshop has been around for a few years in various versions.  Understandably, and unfortunately, it’s difficult for the workshop to keep up with lessons learned from recent events.

As mentioned, the workshop weaves through the five mission areas, rather awkwardly trying to also align with the CPG 101 planning process.  I’m not sure that the two really fit well and it was clearly something new to the course, as the primary speaker missed some of the indicators for activities.  The workshop agenda also fell short, with the facilitators clearly offering a higher than usual number of breaks and of longer than usual length to maintain the workshop as a full day.

The activities were table-based, and focused on the primary steps as outlined in CPG 101, with the goal of giving some ideas and structure to the creation of an active shooter preparedness plan for a facility.  Ideas and discussion generated at our table and others were great, as attendees came from a broad array of facilities, such as schools, night clubs, health care, office buildings, and others.  The most disappointing comments were those about roadblocks people faced within their own organizations in planning and other preparedness activities for active shooters.  There is clearly a lot of denial about these incidents, which will only serve to endanger people.

With a number of public safety professionals in attendance, there was some great reflection on coordination with public safety in both preparedness and response.  One of the gems of the workshop was the number of audio and video clips provided throughout.  The segments included media and 911 clips, as well as post incident interviews with victims and responders.  The insight offered by these was excellent and they were a great value add.

Three pieces of information resonated above all others in this workshop:

  • Run, Hide, Fight (or variants thereof) was stressed as the best model for actions people can take in the event of an active shooter.
  • The inclusion of planning for persons with disabilities is extremely important in an active shooter situation. They may have less of an ability to Run, Hide, and/or Fight, and this should be accounted for in preparedness measures.
  • Essential courses of action for planning include:
    1. Reporting
    2. Notification
    3. Evacuation
    4. Shelter in Place
    5. Emergency Responder Coordination
    6. Access Control
    7. Accountability
    8. Communications Management
    9. Short Term Recovery
    10. Long Term Recovery

Since the workshop was in pilot form, there were no participant manuals provided, which a number of people were hopeful to have.  They did, however, provide a CD with a plethora of materials, including references, some videos, and planning guides.  Many of these I’ve seen and used before, but some were new to me.  There was a commitment to send us all an email with a link to a download of the participant manual once it was available.  Some of those resources can be found here.

All in all, this was a good workshop.  The mix of an audience (numbering over 60, I believe) contributed to great discussion and the primary speaker was great.  The presentation materials were solid and provided a lot of context.  While I was disappointed in the lack of a participant manual and the inclusion of too many breaks, I certainly understand that this is the pilot of a redeveloped program which they are trying to keep as timely and relevant as possible.  While I already knew of many of the concepts and standards, there was some great material and discussion, especially in the context of facilities rather than public safety response.  This is a good program which I would recommend to facility owners, managers, and safety/emergency management personnel as well as jurisdiction emergency management and public safety personnel.

© 2016 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC Your Partner in Preparedness

Five Guidelines for Creating Effective Disaster Exercise Injects

While there is a lot of important and necessary planning that takes place before the development of exercise injects can even be considered, injects themselves are where the proverbial rubber meets the road.  How we craft those injects can often times make or break the conduct of the exercise.  Injects provide context, as if the events of the exercise were occurring in real life.  While we try to avoid delivering injects that directly prompt player responses, injects will often provide information which will lead players to react to the information provided.  Here are five guidelines to help you develop effective exercise injects:

  1. Injects must be purposeful and each one must relate back to one or more exercise objectives. Far too often we see injects that have no real bearing on the objectives of the exercise.  These are simply distractions and lead to busy work.  Keep things focused.  Just a few well-crafted injects can engage a number of players in active discussion or activity.
  2. Realistic injects are a must. While there will always be a grumble from some people claiming that something would ‘never happen that way’, due diligence must go into ensuring that injects are as realistic and grounded as possible.
  3. Be aware of who an inject would actually originate from. A common mistake I see is injects being scripted to originate from inappropriate sources.  This distracts from reality.  Also, injects should never originate from a player.
  4. Be flexible and aware. Sometimes players accomplish what they need to without an inject.  In that event, there may not be a need to use that inject.  Similarly, players may not respond to an inject as expected, so further action on the part of the Facilitators/Controllers/Simcell may be needed.
  5. Always have backups! As you build your Master Scenario Events List (MSEL), maintain a side list of contingency injects that can be used to speed up or slow down the exercise, or to address occurrences where players did not respond as expected.

Thoughts and ideas on these and other guidelines are always welcome!

© 2016 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC Your Partner in Preparedness!

Achieving Coordination Through Unity of Effort

WESA 90.5, Pittsburgh’s NPR News Station, posted an interesting article titled ‘Trump Rally To Blame for Emergency Response Revamp’.  As the articles tells the story, an internal City committee spent several weeks reviewing communications and other information after an April rally in which three were arrested and four police officers suffered minor injuries.  The findings of the committee’s work included the discovery of fractured planning and response within the City of Pittsburgh.  Assuming this has been a regular practice, I’m surprised it took them this long to discover the issue and begin work to address it – although when a jurisdiction functions in a fractured fashion, it’s an easy observation to miss.

The City’s Public Safety Director stated a new system is being implemented in which a ‘unified and streamlined approach to planning’ and a ‘clearer chain of command’ will be put in place.  The article indicates that the City’s Emergency Management Office will have more of a role in coordination.

It’s good to see that Pittsburgh is making some changes to how they plan for and respond to incidents.  This should serve as a role model for a significant number of jurisdictions across the nation – and I’m sure across the world – which have siloed planning and response, with each agency conducting their own activities with little to no coordination.  Proper and safe emergency management requires a team approach, and every team needs someone to coordinate and lead.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that emergency management is in charge – in fact I feel it’s a rare occasion that emergency management should be in charge – but coordination is still an essential element of success, particularly for complex planning and operations.

The term ‘unity of effort’ is gaining more and more traction through the years.  I first heard it probably ten or twelve years ago.  I was pleased to see the intention of adding the term officially to our lexicon in the draft NIMS Refresh document that was released a couple months back.  Although it was just a mention, it was rather encouraging.  Unity of effort doesn’t require an emergency management office or an emergency manager, but having a central point of coordination helps – especially one that isn’t focused or constrained by the mission and tactics of other public safety agencies.  The mission of emergency management IS coordination!

How do you rate the public safety coordination in your jurisdiction?  Is there room for improvement?  While politics are often at play, sometimes it just takes a good measure of facilitation to bring people together in one room and talk about what needs to be accomplished.

© 2016 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC – Your Partner in Preparedness

How Prepared are US Households?

Within the 2013 American Housing Survey, the United States Census Bureau asked US residents how prepared they were for disasters.  They assembled a great infographic on their findings, which can be found here.  Thanks to Jason S for posting this on LinkedIn last week! (commentary below)

Measuring America: How Ready Are We?

I find many of the numbers to be interesting, and am quite honestly skeptical of several of them.  I’m sure the methodology of the Census Bureau’s survey is sound, but I question some of the results based upon my own interactions with the public regarding preparedness.  I’d be interested in seeing the questions.  I did a bit of digging around and found the Census website for the American Housing Survey, which is located here.  There are a variety of data tables available, including breakdowns related to these preparedness questions, but nothing that I can find that specifically provides the questions.  From what I’ve seen, it appears the survey was only conducted in major metropolitan areas around the US.

Emergency Water Supply: 54.3% of households state that they have at least three gallons of water for each person in the household.  This number seems high to me.  I’m left wondering if some people may have thought this included tap water?

Non-Perishable Emergency Food: 82% of households said they have enough non-perishable food to sustain their family for three days.  Have you looked in your pantry lately?  I fully agree with this number.  You may not be able to make full meals or have them be nutritionally balanced, but I do believe that most pantries can provide adequate sustenance for a family for three days.

Prepared Emergency Evacuation Kit: 51.5% of households say they have one.  Really?  I’m not convinced.

Emergency Meeting Location: 37.4% of households say they have an identified emergency meeting location.  While the number still might be a little high, I think it’s within a realistic range.

Communication Plan: 33% of households say they have a communication plan which includes a contingency for the disruption of cell service.  Same as the previous item, perhaps a little high, but I think it’s in the ballpark.

Evacuation Vehicles: 88.6% of households say they have a vehicle or vehicles able to carry all household members, pets, and supplies up to 50 miles away.  I did a bit of digging around, and this number seems accurate, as about 90% of US households have vehicles.  I’m a bit surprised about how high the number is considering that this survey canvassed major metropolitan areas, though.

Evacuation Funds: 69.8% of households said they have access to up to $2000 in the event of evacuation.  In all, between cash and credit, I can believe this number.  They may have to get out of the disaster area, however, to access funds electronically.

House or Building Number Clearly Visible: 77.5% of households said they have this.  Having worked as a firefighter and EMT for many years, I’d agree that somewhere between 2/3 to ¾ of building numbers are visible.

Generator Present: 18.3% of households say they have a generator present.  All in all a sound number, I believe, but perhaps a bit high for urban areas.

Access to Financial Information: 76.8% of households say they have access to their financial information.  This is a question I’d like to see the wording on, but aside from taking time to dig through old bills, I’m skeptical.  Emergency Financial First Aid Kits are a great idea and should be maintained regularly.

I’m hopeful that many of these numbers are reflections of reality, but even if they are we have a long way to go.  One of the best resources out there is WWW.READY.GOV.  Everyone should check it out and make some progress toward individual and family preparedness.  First responders and emergency managers – this means you, too!

What are your thoughts on these statistics?  Those of you in other nations – what kind of preparedness data have you seen for your country?

Stay safe!

© 2016 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLCYour Partner in Preparedness


2016 National Preparedness Report Released

The fifth National Preparedness Report has been released by FEMA.  The National Preparedness Report is based upon, as the report states, input of more than 450 data sources and 190 stakeholders, including 66 non-federal organizations (which would account for state preparedness report submissions and information from Urban Area Security Initiative regions).  The report is intended as a summary of where the nation stands in regard to each of the 32 Core Capabilities outlined in the National Preparedness Goal.

As mentioned, this is the fifth National Preparedness Report to hit the streets.  While they have some value and demonstrate that the data collection that is done is actually collated, I feel that through the years they are offering less meat and more potatoes.  I appreciate the highlighting of best practices for each mission area, but, to me, there is a missed opportunity if a report is simply providing data and not recommendations.  While it’s understood that the goal of the National Preparedness Report is not to provide recommendations (it would also take longer to publish the report, and the people pulling the data together do not likely have the expertise to create recommendations), I’d like to see FEMA (and stakeholders) have follow up efforts to provide recommendations in each mission area and not miss this valuable opportunity to then apply the findings and look forward.

Below, I’ve included their overall findings with a bit of my own commentary.  Overall, I will say that there is nothing eye opening in this report for anyone who pays attention.  It’s pretty easy to guess those Core Capabilities which are at the top and those which are at the bottom.

  • Planning; Public Health, Healthcare, and Emergency Medical Services; and Risk and Disaster Resilience Assessment are the three Core Capabilities in which the Nation has developed acceptable levels of performance for critical tasks, but that face performance declines if not maintained and updated to address emerging challenges.
    • My commentary: BULLSHIT.  If these Core Capabilities are at ‘acceptable levels’, then our standards must be pretty low.  Planning is the one that disturbs me most.  We continue to see plenty of poor plans that are not realistic, can’t be operationalized, and are created to meet requirements (which are typically met by formatting and buzzwords).  Have we improved?  Sure.  But I wouldn’t say we are at ‘acceptable levels’.  As for Public Health, Healthcare, and Emergency Medical Services, we are struggling in certain areas to simply keep our heads above water.  While we are fairly solid in some areas of public health, one only needs to look at the Ebola incident to view how fragile our state of readiness is.  The findings for Planning and Public Health, to me, are nothing but shameful pandering and we need to get realistic about where we are at and the challenges we face.  Gold stars won’t stand up to the next disaster.  As for Risk and Disaster Resilience Assessment I have admittedly less experience personally.  I do know that we have some pretty incredible tools available that can help us determine impacts of various hazards for any given area under a variety of conditions, which is an amazing application of technology.  My concerns here are that there are still many who don’t know about these tools, don’t use them, and/or don’t follow the findings of information from these tools in their hazard mitigation actions.
  • Cybersecurity, Economic Recovery, Housing, and Infrastructure Systems remain national areas for improvement. Two additional Core Capabilities – Natural and Cultural Resources, and Supply Chain Integrity and Security – emerged as new national areas for improvement.
    • My commentary: NO KIDDING. While we have made a great deal of progress on Cybersecurity, we are still far behind the criminal element in most respects.  It also needs to be fully recognized in the National Preparedness Goal that Cybersecurity is a Core Capability common to all five mission areas.  Economic Recovery will always be a challenge, as every community impacted by an incident has a certain way it heals, essentially along the lines of Maslow’s Hierarchy.  A strong local economy is important to this healing, ensuring that the community has access to the resources it needs to rebuild and a return to normalcy.  While I’m sure studies have been done, we need to examine more closely how the economic recovery process evolves after a disaster to identify how it can be best supported.  Housing is the absolutely most challenging Core Capability in the National Preparedness Goal.  While I don’t have a solution for this, I do know that our current approaches, philosophies, and ways of thinking haven’t moved us an inch toward the finish line on this one.  We need to change our current way of thinking to be successful.  As for Infrastructure Systems, I could go on for days about this.  I’ve written previously, several times, (as have many others) on the critically fragile state of our infrastructure.  It’s no big secret.
  • States and territories continue to be more prepared to achieve their targets for Response Core Capabilities, while they are least prepared to meet their targets in the Recovery Mission Area.
    • This is another NO KIDDING. While we must always have a greater focus on Response, as that’s where lives are saved and the immediate danger is addressed, we can’t lose sight of Recovery.  Some recovery activities are more clear cut than others, and FEMA often muddies the waters more by inadvertently intimidating state and local governments when it comes to disaster recovery, as the focus becomes centered more on reimbursable activities vs doing what needs to be done.  The report included some interesting findings (take a look in the Recovery Mission Area drop down on the web site) on ‘mixed trends in exercising recovery capabilities’.  Again, this is nothing earth shattering, but it’s nice to see the matter addressed.  Yes, we clearly need to exercise Recovery Mission Area Core Capabilities better and more often.

These reports are always worth looking through, even though much of the information is generally known by those of us in the profession.  There are always little nuggets of learning available, and data from the report may be used to support your own endeavors for additional funding or resources for your own program.

As always, I’m interested in your insights and thoughts on this post and the National Preparedness Report.

© 2016 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC – Your Partner in Preparedness


Taking Another Look at Mass Casualty Incidents

In case you missed it, the NTSB issued their findings and recommendations relative to the derailment of Amtrak 188 in the City of Philadelphia last May, which resulted in the loss of eight lives and injuries to over 200 other passengers.

The NTSB surmised that the engineer was distracted by reports over Amtrak’s radio of a nearby train having rocks thrown at it, which is apparently a common occurrence on a certain stretch of tracks through Philadelphia.  His distraction resulted in him speeding up the train, rather than slowing it prior to heading into a curve.  Taking the curve at high speed led directly to derailment of the train.  It has been pointed out that the presence of an automatic Positive Train Control system, not installed on many trains, would have slowed the train and likely prevented the derailment.  A rail industry union consortium indicated that the presence of two engineers on the train may have also mitigated this incident.

What I found most interesting in the report was that after listing findings and recommendations related to the derailment itself, the NTSB report identified issues beyond the crash.  The report states that

“…as a result of victims being transported to hospitals without coordination, some hospitals were over utilized while others were significantly underutilized during the response to the derailment.  The NTSB further found that that current Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia Fire Department, and Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management policies and procedures regarding transportation of patients in a mass casualty incident need to be better coordinated.”

Why is the NTSB providing recommendations on how mass casualty incidents are handled?  These recommendations are, in fact, fully within the scope of their mission statement as they address, ultimately, how victims are cared for.  The NTSB has also brought us best practices that extend beyond crashes, such as Family Assistance Centers.

The recommendations the NTSB provides in this report are spot on.  Mass casualty incidents MUST be coordinated.  Triage, treatment, and transport.  We’ve all heard of these three key activities.  Yes, it’s excruciatingly difficult to not ‘Scoop and Run’ when we encounter an injured victim, but let’s consider a few reasons why we shouldn’t:

  1. Patients with certain injuries, such as those to the cervical spine, are not being stabilized, and could have their injury worsened.
  2. A patient could ‘crash’ from a multitude of causes, which require the resources of an ambulance and paramedic to address, absent being in a hospital.
  3. Scoop and Run violates the concept of triage, which is intended to provide care and transport for the most critically injured first.
  4. The emergency personnel and vehicles involved in Scoop and Run may be otherwise needed at the scene.
  5. Depending on the incident, victims may be contaminated. Scoop and Run can endanger personnel who are not aware of this.
  6. Scoop and Run circumvents patient tracking and accountability, which is important for on-scene operations, liability and insurance, post-incident medical monitoring, and investigation.
  7. Scoop and Run, as the NTSB report pointed out directly, doesn’t account for spreading patients among receiving hospitals, meaning that some patients can end up at hospitals unequipped for their type of injury as well as overcrowding of hospitals.

While the City of Philadelphia did a great job overall, this gave them cause to take another look at their mass casualty plans and procedures; resulting in Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management asking for better coordination of the multiple entities involved in a mass casualty incident.  While this incident provided some great lessons learned for the City of Philadelphia, it also provides lessons learned for all of us.  It’s a good opportunity to convene your mass casualty planning group and give a review of your plan.  Any jurisdiction can be susceptible to a mass casualty incident.

In need of a structured plan review, planning, training, or exercises involving mass casualty incidents?  Emergency Preparedness Solutions can help!  Contact us now!

© 2016 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLCYour Partner in Preparedness!

Battling Wild Fires and Perspectives

Hello readers!  Apologies for my absence over the past couple of weeks.  I’m grateful, especially as a founder and company partner, that we’ve been so busy as of late.  The design, conduct, and evaluation of a couple of great exercises for one client; the design of several impactful training courses for another; along with preparations for two new contracts have had our small business buzzing with activity.  We will be recruiting a lot of people for one of those contracts, so stay posted on the blog (www.triecker.wordpress.com), my LinkedIn profile, and both my personal (@triecker) and our company (@epsllc) Twitter accounts, as well as the company website (www.epsllc.biz) for more info.

Although I’ve not been blogging for the last couple of weeks, I’ve still been keeping up on current events.  The wildfire in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada has been consistently one of the biggest stories as the fires still continue to spread, having caused massive devastation to property and the environment, and having displaced around 100,000 people.  Hundreds of vehicles were abandoned during evacuations, either due to mechanical trouble or lack of fuel.  The Canadian Red Cross, partnering with federal and provincial governments, is providing tens of millions of dollars in direct aid to impacted individuals and families.  Thousands of workers are being evacuated from the oil sands area north of the Fort McMurray, stalling more than a million barrels of production each day.  Firefighters, law enforcement, military personnel, and other resources are battling dry conditions, high temperatures, and winds in this massive and constantly shifting fire.  Other provincial and local governments and even citizens are helping to shelter and care for evacuees, many of which have lost much of their property.

One thing I often find interesting is the difference between perspectives, especially between public safety and citizens.  While our focus in public safety is… well… to make sure the public is safe, we always have to keep tabs on perception.  Take the seemingly conflicting reports of these two articles, for example.  The first article, published Thursday May 5, tells the story of residents evacuated from an area who are questioning the organization of response efforts and general preparedness of officials.  One individual tells of no police officers to guide evacuees out of town.  The second article, published on Saturday May 7 tells of military and police overseeing evacuations across the incident.  I believe I read these two articles back to back, causing the dichotomy of the two to really jump out at me.

Truth, of course, likely lies in both articles.  Yes, thousands of public safety and military personnel are involved and doing what they can.  Some evacuation orders, as indicated in the first article, are sudden, based upon rapidly changing factors, giving public safety little time to mobilize to the new area.  There must also be a consideration that evacuation orders may have been issued without proper coordination of resources.  Any of these things are possibilities, especially in the fast moving environment of wild fires.  Still, they provide opportunities for us to learn and improve.  Not knowing the details of what may or may not have transpired, I am always reluctant to speculate.  As with all incidents, events, and exercises, however, once the work is done, we have an excellent opportunity to review and evaluate information in a collaborative manner to identify strengths and areas for improvement.  Organizing these notes creates a corrective action plan, the implementation of which will, over time, make us better at what we do.

© 2016 – Timothy Riecker

Course Review – RDPC Isolation and Quarantine

IQLast week I had the opportunity to take two courses sponsored by the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium (RDPC), MGT 433: Isolation and Quarantine for Rural Communities and PER 308: Rural Isolation and Quarantine for Public Health and Healthcare Professionals.  These courses together were completed in one day.

First came MGT 433.  This course covered a variety of topics associated with isolation and quarantine, including:

  • Case studies
  • Legal and ethical issues
  • Agencies and entities involved
  • Planning priorities
  • Resources

While the course is intended for rural audiences, which my home area generally is, the issues and considerations associated with isolation and quarantine are still largely the same for more densely populated areas.  While weaving through the various course topics, they mostly all related back to understanding the reasoning behind the use of isolation and/or quarantine as tools to limit the spread of certain communicable diseases and the planning and implementation associated with these activities.  The course did elevate my rather foundational knowledge of isolation and quarantine, and provided some great references for future application.

The second course, PER 308, didn’t really provide much more information than the previous course did, although it allowed an opportunity for a greater degree of analysis and discussion through a guided tabletop exercise.  The tabletop information from the participant manual was supplemented with several video segments which were produced with reasonable quality and help set the stage for many of the issues one would expect from dealing with an isolation/quarantine event.

Both courses were pretty solid, with only a few little tweaks or updates which I provided feedback on to the instructor.  As with most RDPC courses, those from larger agencies and more populated areas shouldn’t be dissuaded from participating – the foundational concepts they present are applicable to any area, rural or otherwise.

The instructor was very personable, professional, and knowledgeable of the course content.  While he didn’t have a public health background, which surprised me given the course topics, he clearly has a great cooperative public safety background.  I’ve found that the RDPC tends to prefer sending only one instructor to teach a course, along with an assistant to handle administrative matters.  While it’s certainly viable to handle the course alone, it’s challenging for both the instructor and the audience.

All in all, these are good courses, and I do recommend you keep a look out for them in your area.  Both courses are excellent for furthering your understanding of isolation and quarantine, when to use them, how to use them, and who to involve.  They are particularly good courses for public safety leadership and public health leadership and preparedness staff.

© 2016 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLCYour Partner in Preparedness

Calgary Report on Emergency Preparedness

Be sure to see the update posted at the bottom of this article!


Published in the Calgary Herald (and perhaps elsewhere), Calgary Emergency Management Agency released their 2016 report on the status of preparedness in the city.  While the data contained in the report only has direct relevance if you have interest in the city of Calgary, the concept and themes in the report have some broader relevance to everyone in emergency management.

First, let’s talk about the publication of this report.  I absolutely think this is a best practice and Calgary Emergency Management should be congratulated for it.  The Herald also deserves credit for putting the information out there… we know that media outlets don’t always have the time or ability to publish the information they are provided.  All in all, the information contained in the report should be pretty relatable to most readers.  They detail the hazards, highlight costs of certain past disasters in the province of Alberta, talk about some facts that demonstrate a continued need for preparedness efforts, and they talk about some of their actions and recommended actions for others.  I’m left wondering if these are highlights of a more detailed report.  Either way, it’s a nice bit of information and promotion of emergency management efforts.

Their report starts off providing a list of the top ten hazards and risks in Calgary, with an added bit of information telling what percentage of hazard mitigation efforts are focused on each hazard (I’m not sure what the mitigation percentage is based upon… percent of mitigation budget, perhaps?).  While much of the hazard list is intuitive, it should certainly serve as a good reminder to businesses and citizens about what can impact the area.  This is also a list that I largely suspect could be replicated in many other municipalities around the world, especially those in the colder reaches of the northern and southern hemispheres.

Another section in the report provides a number of bulleted facts related to preparedness in Calgary.  Some of these seem to have originated from a public survey, others from a survey of businesses, while others, such as the number of critical infrastructures in the city, were likely internal or in collaboration with other agencies.  Regardless of the source, they should be eye opening for people.  They are also, as with other information, fairly representative of many other municipalities around the world.  While the numbers may not be exact, I’m sure the percentages are pretty close.

They follow up their facts with two brief sections on hazard mitigation, one focusing on private sector and business continuity and the other from a broader emergency management perspective.  These are all certainly applicable in any of our locations.  Finally, they list their nine focuses for the year.  These nine areas may very well be pulled from an annual strategic plan update for Calgary Emergency Management and are also very relatable to most of us around the world.  They mention things like leveraging risk assessment, sustainability funding for capabilities, emergency plan revisions, public outreach, training and exercises, and others.

It’s great to see an emergency management agency putting information out to the populations they serve.  It adds context to ‘winter weather awareness week’ or other promotions, and provides more information on what emergency management does.  This report also showed that, while there are some differences based on our relative locations, much of what we are dealing with in emergency management is very similar.

Kudos again to CEMA.

© 2016 – Timothy Riecker, CEDP

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC – Your Partner in Preparedness

~ Update

By virtue of posting this article, I was contacted by Ms. Tabitha Beaton who works for Calgary Emergency Management and was one of the principal authors of this report.  A full version of their report can be found here.