"It Takes a Village"
A Group Discussion on Changing Attitudes Towards
Public Engagement in Disaster Management

Gunnar J. Kuepper
Chief of Operations
Emergency & Disaster Management, Inc.

November 28, 2007

Transcript (HTML)
Transcript (Word)
Slides: 1, 2, 3, 4

Discussion Questions
Rate this session and/or write a review

Related Websites:

EPI Preparedness Report Interview
Emergency & Disaster Management, Inc.

Up Arrow to Top of Page


"I found this forum to be one of the more interesting to date. Many of the reports and research that came about as a result of the numerous hurricanes of the past few seasons seem to indicate the necessity for enhanced public-private partnership in disaster management. In our own coastal community of Pensacola, FL many of us who worked response, recovery and, ultimately long-term recovery relative to Hurricane Ivan believed that while our governmental emergency management team performed very well, it was up to the private sector to fill the gaps and perform functions not typically defined as governmental responsibility. With this in mind, I and two members of the Escambia County Long Term Recovery Committee researched the existing VOAD and COAD models and created the Be Ready Alliance Coordinating for Emergencies (BRACE) www.bereadyalliance.org. We now have approximately 170 members, representative of all sectors of the community, that have come together with the vision of making Escambia County the most disaster resilient community in America. We developed a multi-point program of work through cooperation with our Department of Emergency Management and our top priority is personal responsibility and self-sufficiency. This message combined with a strong dedication to educating the public on disaster mitigation is already showing promising signs. We also promote and assist with COOP planning. I believe our model is somewhat unique and I encourage those who might be interested in more information to peruse the website listed above or feel free to contact me personally.

Thanks again for the forum. I hope to see more focus placed on this topic in the future."
Greg Smith
United Way of Escambia County, FL

"I thought Kuepper's presentation was quite good and many of the participant comments also very insightful, although I thought there was considerable repetition and 'talking in circles' -- but perhaps inevitable considering the format of the forum."

"I think that responsbility for response and recovery is indeed a personal act. A lot of verbiage that was used during the forum should be duplicated and shared with other entities. I also agree that govermental agencies seem to worry more about their image from public opinion and the press rather than actually implementing their pograms to assist people.Great job.......Thanks"

"Outstanding presentation and audience participation!"
Isabel McCurdy
McCurdy Enterprises

"The concept of community involvement in disaster management is not a new idea. I wonder if the message to take home is that we in the response community are part of the problem. A paradigm shift seems to be in order, however individuals or individual agencies cannot effect this type of broad change. Challenging."
Shawn Smith
City of London

"A good presentation and interesting discussion. There were points I would have made if I was able to attend. It is great to have the transcripts available to those who can't participate live."
Rob Schwartz
University of Akron

"I believe this topic was very useful and good to see that others feel that it is important to try and get people to believe they must begin to take responsibility for themselves."
Dominick Urso

Up Arrow to Top of Page


Gunnar J. Kuepper is Chief of Operations with Emergency & Disaster Management, Inc. in Los Angeles, California. This independent agency advises private, non-profit, and governmental organizations throughout the world in comprehensive emergency/crisis management and business continuity programs.

Much of Gunnar's planning and consulting work takes place within the international aviation industry. He and his team at EDM have analyzed the emergency management procedures and response operations in numerous catastrophic incidents, ranging from transportation accidents, to fires and explosions, to acts of terrorism and ultraviolence.

Before moving to the US, Gunnar was Commanding Chief and Managing Director of several EMS and rescue systems in Europe, particularly in Germany. He received his education in law and biochemistry from the German Universities of Bonn and Hannover.

Currently, Gunnar delivers more than thirty presentations and Key-notes annually at major national and international conferences in Asia (i.e., Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong), Europe (i.e., Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, The Netherlands, United Kingdom), South America, and all over the US and Canada. Each year, he gives up to fifty briefings for law enforcement agencies, governmental and/or private organizations worldwide.

Among his many professional activities, Gunnar serves as a Principal on the NFPA Standard 1600 Technical Committee and as President, Region IX, IAEM (International Association of Emergency Managers).

Up Arrow to Top of Page


1. What are the obstacles to greater involvement of the general public in all phases of emergency management?

2. How can these obstacles be overcome?

3. How can we gauge public expectations and make policy decisions as to what expectations are reasonable or unreasonable? To what extent are expectations influenced by local conditions?

4. What are some examples of successful model frameworks for involving stakeholders? Do the FEMA national and regional advisory councils provide good models in your opinion?

5. To what extent are local issues and attitudes toward public involvement different from issues and attitudes at the state and federal level?

6. Policy issues in response and recovery are frequently not addressed until the disaster happens, and then local leaders must make policy decisions under intense pressure. Can these issues be identified in advance, and would some type of local policy document provide guidance for staff and continuity between administrations?

7. Should we consider creating plans for the preparedness/operational readiness phase that lays out local objectives for improvement over time and measures progress towards well defined goals? That is, should we build in more accountability?

8. Should all plans be made readily available for public review? Should proposed revisions be made available for public review and comment?

9. What changes are needed nationally to make progress toward implementing a community-wide approach to disaster response and recovery?

10. What role should professional associations play in re-orienting our approach to disaster response, and not only associations like IAEM and NEMA, but also associations like ICMA, NACo, National League of Cities and the like?