Edited Version of January 19, 2000 Transcript
EIIP Virtual Forum Group Discussion

"Building Relationships: Horizontally and Vertically"

Amy Sebring
EIIP Technical Projects Coordinator

The original unedited transcript of the January, 19,2000 online Virtual Forum presentation is available on the EIIP Virtual Forum (http://www.emforum.org). The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each were deleted but content of discussions, questions, and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers from the speakers to questions by the audience are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.


Amy Sebring: Welcome to the Virtual Forum! Today we are going to have a group discussion on "Building Relationships -- Horizontally and Vertically."

Please refer to the background page at <http://www.emforum.org/vforum/000119.htm> , where ten discussion questions are listed. In order to facilitate discussion, we will try dispensing with the question marks (?) today. I will put up each of the questions and ask you to respond. If you have a comment at that point, just put it in. I will also ask you to try to think ahead a little as we go down the list, and start preparing any comment you may have for the next question.


In our last group discussion on planning, the general feedback was that there is not enough coordination on planning, that we typically do it in isolation from one another. I thought this model of vertical and horizontal integration worth a closer look when I first came across it in the paper by Dr. Quarantelli that is referenced on the background page. In that paper it was raised in relation to planning and preparedness.

Then I came across it again almost immediately in the paper by Jeanine Petterson with respect to disaster recovery. She seems to be saying that the community that plans together, recovers together. From the references, it appears that this model was first suggested in relation to emergency management in a recovery/mitigation context by Philip Berke, et al. in an article published in 1993 entitled "Recovery after Disaster: Achieving Sustainable Development, Mitigation and Equity." Disasters 17(2): 93-109.

Basically, by vertical integration we are talking about relations up the levels of organization - from local, to regional, to state-wide, to national, to global perhaps. By horizontal, we are talking about lateral relationships across organizations in a community, to all those "stakeholders" in disasters. As Dr. Quarantelli puts it with his usual elegance, " All relevant sectors of the community, public and private, not only need to be involved but their various proposed courses of action need to be tied to one another."

With that introduction, let's start out with our discussion questions.

[Group Discussion]

Question #1

What level of horizontal integration does your community have? Can you give us some examples of ways in which you coordinate with other groups in your community? Do you train together? Exercise together? Comments please?


Jon Kavanagh: PD/Fire/EMS have trained together historically. But it's becoming difficult to a) find time to do joint trainings, and b) many companies are now needing scenario trainings, further creating difficulties. Tabletops are one thing but a real exercise takes a long time to plan.

Lois McCoy: In NIUSR, we attempt to put both our members and non-members in our Working Groups. This is relatively easy in NIUSR since we conduct our working groups in virtual organizations on the Internet.

Linda Underwood: We have all-day CERT refresher drills twice a year. We invite members from other teams in the county.

Peter Picanso: Here in the Southern California area I think that the Volunteer agencies and the local government work together well, but the Commercial area seems to be left out of the planning.

Amy Sebring: Do we have any examples of community planning? We have an LEPC but they are limited to hazardous materials.

John Pine: Since the early 1990's it seems that more emergency management agencies have planned and trained with other local units / fire / public works / schools/ medical and public health.

Walt Ireland: As it pertains to emergency telecommunications, we - radio amateurs - have established levels of coordination from the local fire and police stations, to the International Red Cross. We conduct field days to prepare for natural/human disasters.

Ian Manock: In Tasmania, we have formed a regional recovery group with representation from all our local government areas. The local reps chair their own local recovery committees. The regional and local committees are responsible for inputting the recovery strategies into the regional and local EM plans.

Jon Kavanagh: Some companies are hesitant to do a "real" training, because they don't want the press of having all the trucks and people there (as beneficial as it may be, they see the darker side of it).

Chris Saeger: Red Cross has sponsored joint agency tabletop exercises at the state and regional level.

Frank Livingston: Isn't WMD a hazardous material? The LEPC needs to be involved.

Amy Sebring: We also have an active United Way group that provides leadership to a group of Community Based Organizations.

Ian Manock: No CERT here, we have a volunteer emergency service in most States.

Amy Sebring: Let's move on to number 2, I would like to focus on the questions near the bottom of the list when we get to them.

Question # 2

What level of vertical integration does your community have? Can you give us an example of what opportunities you have to relate up the ladder?


Bill Norris: Peter makes a good point. Commercial stakeholders are often left out due to governmental fear of violating some arcane statute concerning public - private interests. Private interests would generally like to get involved.

Amy Sebring: Bill, we will come back to the private sector involvement.

Amy Sebring: We have an annual hurricane exercise with State involvement, and meet folks at conferences.

Walt Ireland: We have a tornado watch in Texas that reports to local activities.

Chris Saeger: This is within the agency, but Red Cross has conducted multi-level internal exercises with local state and national participants.

Amy Sebring: Yes, Chris, I was thinking ARC is pretty well integrated vertically.

Jon Kavanagh: IMO, most vertical trainings come from mandate, rather than "just because".

Ian Manock: Most local planning committees are chaired by the local mayor. His Executive Officer represents the local groups at a regional level and so on up the line.

Vince DiCarlo: We do okay at the local and state level, but many national policies get in the way, especially in communications.

Ian Manock: NGO's are represented at local, regional and state levels.

Amy Sebring: There is also political involvement, connections to state legislatures through elected officials e.g.

Amy Sebring: Some communities seem to have more clout than others!

Jon Kavanagh: Amy, that is the difficulty. If you're big, you have a better chance at making things happen, than if you're a small village. Big or threatened gets the action.

Amy Sebring: Media plays a big part in that also, I suspect.

Ian Manock: Communities with strong horizontal ties usually would appear to have better chances of stronger vertical ties.

Amy Sebring: Interesting suggestion, Ian.

Peter Picanso: Area wide horizontal coordination can make a small organization big.

John Pine: In our state local emergency management directors have been given state roles in heading task forces - shelters - This approach enhances vertical integration.

Amy Sebring: Dr. Q also notes that "Studies by ourselves and others have, in fact, consistently reported that local emergency personnel are consistently surprised at the number and diversity of responders both from within and outside the community that converge on the disaster site --- the larger the disaster, the more the converging groups and their variety."

Question # 3

Does your planning adequately consider the number and diversity of responders from within and without the community that will converge in the event of disaster?


Amy Sebring: I have seen references to not only managing the actual disaster, but also the need to manage the response, a secondary challenge when you may least need it.

David Crews: The real key is the involvement of the Governing Bodies. It takes resources to satisfy EM requirements and those that have the authority over those resources are important to the process, but in my experience they are not in the loop.

Peter Picanso: One of the big problems here is with the spontaneous volunteer, and what to do with them.

Roger Kershaw: Our community is a Superfund site. But all the planning and community involvement has probably helped with looking at the issue of cooperation and communication between agencies, as well as the public.

Jon Kavanagh: Working on a regional, and ultimately statewide ID card, so you don't have to question a person's level of training (Firefighter, EMT, Haz-mat Op/Tech, etc.).

Amy Sebring: I have seen at least one example where an out of town agency announced the intent to deploy to our community, without informing us first! That was a surprise.

Dennis Atwood: Peter is right - touches on Q3. Committees/task forces/boards need to be "open" to interested parties. Workhorses and "influentials" tend to sort themselves out, right?

Ian Manock: Agree with you, Dennis.

Chris Saeger: Amy, I find too that the emergent group is often a surprise to responders and these groups can be very vocal.

Jon Kavanagh: There are so many specialized agencies out there, that many ICs/EOCs may not know the (proper) way to request them.

Amy Sebring: Yes, at least a check-in procedure, planned for in advance, might be helpful.

Ian Manock: Quite often the community is "done to" rather than involved in what it wants done, or needs!

Peter Picanso: If you recognize the problem and plan for it you will have a system in place; it's when it comes as a surprise that there are problems.

Ian Manock: That comes back to effective EM planning overall Peter, doesn't it?

David Crews: Forming partnerships is important to reduce or eliminate duplication and to ensure the most cost-benefit outcomes.

Dennis Atwood: Jon, number of groups, but aren't there usually a few people on multiple groups?

Jon Kavanagh: Dennis, true, which can also cause problems.

Chris Saeger: I think that Jon K's point about specialization is very relevant, I find there are subgroups within EM that have coordination but that the subgroups have not often worked together

Amy Sebring: This next question is related. Again quoting Dr. Q, "As such, good disaster preparedness planning must include, in the larger sense of the term, education as a key component. Planning requires educating oneself and others. There is not only a need to teach one's own group on what to expect and to do, but there is also the necessity of learning how others intend to respond."

Question # 4

Do you have adequate opportunities to educate one another about expectations and intentions?


Peter Picanso: It sure does. You have to recognize there will be spontaneous response to plan for it.

Ian Manock: We find the regular meetings and associated training sessions help.

Lois McCoy: Amy, this brings up the question that I have had nagging at me. Earlier, much was said about trainings with multi-agencies once or twice a year. In my experience that has led, UNLESS previous cross-training, to merely practicing doing the WRONG things, AGAIN!

Amy Sebring: Yes, same mistakes seem to keep popping up on after action reports, Lois.

Jon Kavanagh: Meetings and the like are good, until you get a call and half the room has to leave.

Chris Saeger: Amy, I think that this is a great point, there is a wider body of literature on planning that I don't often see referenced in the EM community, Arie DeGeuss, wrote an interesting article on business planning entitled "Planning As Learning."

David Crews: There are two different active components in EM that need to be better understood in communities: the Tactical and the Strategic.

Dennis Atwood: Important to distinguish between "information" and education. What is the practical difference? Dialogue with focus, outcomes and following through on commitments? In other words, what techniques support "full" mutual understanding? Perhaps a community "disaster capabilities objectives and strategy - multi-year?

Amy Sebring: We didn't do as much plan review from outside agencies as we should. Partly because they are all so long!

Chris Saeger: Amy, I think that plan reviews, if they are done onsite, so that the learning and networking is shared with the reviewers is a great thing

Amy Sebring: Yes Chris, may also help to cut through the verbiage.

Ian Manock: It's worthwhile remembering that the community has to live with the event for many years after the impact and "response" is over. We have to focus on the community groups and local government coordinators of the recovery efforts.

Chris Saeger: Dr. Quarantelli actually helped us to do a plan review for ARC in NYC.

Jon Kavanagh: Do you take the whole thing at once, or nibble a bit at a time. Both have pros and cons.

Vince DiCarlo: We have a new industry out there that will do all your planning, for a fee. What is your opinion of these organizations?

Ian Manock: Who "owns" the plan after the consultants have written it?

Amy Sebring: My opinion is they can provide a valuable service IF they facilitate a local process.

Ian Manock: Totally agree Amy --- facilitate is the key.

Dennis Atwood: They certainly glorify the market economy philosophy --- but do their products make for better preparedness/capabilities?

Ian Manock: Does the community or organisation have commitment to the plan written by others for them?

Peter Picanso: It's a good place to start for those who are new to EM planning.

Vince DiCarlo: I really don't know, much of it is canned, so you would think they copyright it.

Dennis Atwood: Can a community get the same "expertise" by networking with other communities, at little or no expense?

Amy Sebring: Sometimes management just has to hear it from an outside "neutral" party.

Vince DiCarlo: Probably but I think this is a problem of time being a more valuable resource than money.

Amy Sebring: Time = $$.

Daryl Spiewak: How about a mentor program through the EM associations to help with the planning efforts of others?

Ian Manock: We find the networking that occurs between local groups represented at our regional meetings is a very good medium for information exchange.

Vince DiCarlo: Not in a government budget.

Peter Picanso: But if you leave it at the "canned" plan stage you won't have all the variables figured in.

Amy Sebring: Time>$$.

Dennis Atwood: It also takes time to obtain $$.

Amy Sebring: Ok, let's move on to the next one. Based on my own experience, I have seen a number of plans for the same community that list priorities for response. There seems to be pretty uniform consistency in the top few; that is, responding to life threatening situations, lifelines, etc. But when you get past the top few, the priorities diverge and are no longer consistent with each other. If that were the case in a community, one could see where that might lead to disagreements and conflict. This might also be alleviated by reviewing and negotiating a common list of priorities in advance perhaps.

Question # 5

Do you understand each others' priorities and are they consistent? Has anyone else had the experience of which I am speaking?


Chris Saeger: I think that this is the most important issue, having a shared sense of one another's priorities.

Peter Picanso: This is another area where the government and NGOs have some coordination but the commercial seems to be left out.

John Pine: The communication / coordination that evolves in the planning stage allows us to observe the priorities of agencies in our local and state system.

Daryl Spiewak: I have. The priorities for each function may be different. The person in charge, however, needs to establish the priorities for the overall group.

Ian Manock: Some organizations really want to help but don't have the capacity. Knowing their priorities has helped to plug some potential holes.

Amy Sebring: That can be done for each group, Daryl, but how about between groups?

Lois McCoy: During the emergency response phase each person and/or agency has the same priority.

David Crews: Planning identifies the risk and requirements. Fiscal planning by Governing Bodies puts resources to those requirements. In the fiscal process there is a lot of competition for scare resources. That is why governing bodies are essential to EM.

Dennis Atwood: Do these priorities tend to be truly mutually exclusive --- or are there overlapping aspects for which capabilities can be applied? Yet, ICS requires rapid decision making on response priorities....

Daryl Spiewak: As long as the overall priorities are being worked on, each function can still have their own priorities within the limits of available resources.

Lois McCoy: That is doing the best job they can at what they do.

Lois McCoy: It is in the later stages of recovery (and always of assessing any sore spots that occurred) that priorities appear. Again, they are the same priority.

Daryl Spiewak: The person in charge is the one who should be setting the priorities for the resources.

Dennis Atwood: Daryl --- yes, but as a leader, not a dictator.

Amy Sebring: Who is that person, Daryl, in a hurricane scenario, let's say.

John Pine: The person in charge: In most communities this could evolve since you have public, private and non-profit groups committing resources.

Daryl Spiewak: Exactly Dennis. But sometimes the situation does require a dictator to save lives and property.

Amy Sebring: Right John, it is generally a collaborative effort.

Chris Saeger: Who is that person in non-disaster times? Why do we think that it will show up in times of emergency? Are there other ways of producing coordination?

Amy Sebring: Ok, next is where we will come back to the private sectors and others. We have discussed a number of times in this forum the need to involve some non-traditional organizations.

Daryl Spiewak: Amy, the senior elected official is usually the one designated with the ultimate responsibility. That person is the one who has to make the decisions (with good advice of course).

Amy Sebring: The Project Impact list at <http://www.fema.gov/impact/im_list1.htm> is a good starting point, but there are some others I can think of. Take a moment to look at it.

David Crews: Because we have Representative Government in the US, the acquisition, use and disposal of Fiscal Resources is determined by governing bodies. Academia and Business have similar processes in leadership and management.

Question # 6

Are Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and the private sector involved on a regular basis? Other organizations in your community that should be involved but are not presently? Think about all 4 phases here. Not just response.


Chris Saeger: In preparation some Red Cross chapters have done a great deal of work in CBO relationships, they are valuable in terms of both resources and in terms of understanding segments of the community needing services

Jon Kavanagh: Not typically, I think. Most businesses don't know what they could offer.

Peter Picanso: Locally (southern. California) I think we need to involve the commercial interests more in the planning and preparedness areas more. Too often they are not involved until the recovery phase.

Jon Kavanagh: They may also be unsure of a commitment to "the cause" or any legal issues that may come up. Such as, an employee who helps out and gets hurt--who eats the claim? etc.

Dennis Atwood: Do "most" communities have direct linkages - Chamber of Commerce with LEPC for example?

Frank Livingston: Here is how business can help you! You folks might want to look at the computer based training program for mass casualty incidents developed for the Army by LOGICON. Go to <www.logicon.com/nbc/index.htm> . They are finished with a civilian version and it is pretty good. It will teach the EMS, law enforcement, fire, EM, etc. to work together. Since it works on the Internet you can have multiple users, reviewers, coaches, etc. and they do not have to be in the same state! Great training device.

Dennis Atwood: Thanks Frank. I think we are referring to businesses in a community as partners.

Peter Picanso: The time to consider these things is in the planning phase.

Jon Kavanagh: Or, they may simply see it as not their responsibility. If the FD or PD need something, they'll come for it.

Amy Sebring: In my community, the only ones who get involved with LEPC are responders and larger industry.

David Crews: This question highlights the need for partnerships. There are lots of resources in a community for Disaster Recovery, however ownership is compartmentalized along bureaucratic, political and economic lines.

Dennis Atwood: <<<sigh.

Amy Sebring: Ok, let's move on to the questions I hope we can really focus on. Some ideas have been introduced already. We can always find less than optimal situations. What can be done to improve the situation, realistically?

Question # 7

What opportunities exist to enhance horizontal integration? What are the barriers?


Amy Sebring: Time was mentioned.

Jon Kavanagh: Overall politics.

Amy Sebring: Having a good email list to keep each other informed may be a new opportunity.

Dennis Atwood: Since disasters don't respect political boundaries, mutual aid agreements, hazard zone groups may help horizontally.

Amy Sebring: Yes, local professional association?

John Pine: Technology may offer us with an excellent opportunity to enhance horizontal as well as vertical integration.

Lois McCoy: Amy, how about publishing the emails of the folks on this session so we can contact those that made a special point with which we are interested?

Daryl Spiewak: Also consider "what's in it for me and my department/agency/company/business?".

Amy Sebring: We do not do that as a rule Lois, to respect privacy, but if folks would like to volunteer their email addresses here, that would be fine. You can also request from an individual via private message.

Linda Underwood: We are having a Southern California CERT Conference next Monday with people from 80-90 locations, so we can start working together.

John Pine: I have noticed an increase in fragmentation at the local level as local neighborhoods have conflict over flooding issues - burning of hazardous materials - etc.

Chris Saeger: I have an activity that I have used to kick off inter-organizational efforts, Called the response coordination game, in it four agencies attempt to meet the needs of the community (represented by another player at the table) each agency competes to succeed for awhile until they realize they can do more by cooperation. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour. If you are interested email me at [email protected]

Amy Sebring: Yes, John, I think unless you work to counteract "entropy" it will occur by itself, or be accelerated by conflict.

Peter Picanso: There seems to be an artificial barrier between Emergency Managers and Contingency Planners that needs to be broken down with integration of each into the others professional organizations.

David Crews: Communities are often energized by actual disaster events. EM needs to take advantage of this "synergy" in order to improve a communities ability to protect itself and to respond. Information and Communication technology are excellent ways to do this. However, communities need to have a motivation to mitigate disasters first.

Amy Sebring: Nicely put. Let's address the same for vertical although we have touched on it.

Question # 8

What opportunities exist to enhance vertical integration? What are the barriers?

John Pine: Perception - either by local or state - to see the value in collaboration with one another.

Amy Sebring: I would like to get to meet some of the FEMA regional folks in a non-disaster situation occasionally.

David Crews: Here we are!

Dennis Atwood: Amy - noted!

Amy Sebring: Yes, we are doing a little vertical and horizontal integrating right here!

Peter Picanso: You can't beat face to face networking, but time and distance often preclude it.

Amy Sebring: Perhaps some joint plan reviews?

Ian Manock: This is only one "tool" we have though.

Jon Kavanagh: In both directions. Everyone getting past the fact that some people know more than others, but because you work for the state or feds or FEMA doesn't mean that you know it all.

Dennis Atwood: Gee Jon, did such folks say they did?!

Jon Kavanagh: I don't think it is really ever said.

Dennis Atwood: Way to do. <www.fema.gov> Navigate to each Region's area, news, staff lists there. They typically have full agendas, but know the customer service ethic too!

Amy Sebring: Also, we may neglect to think of our elected officials and go to them for vertical networking in non-disaster times.

Ian Manock: State funded regional and state level conferences/ workshops? Involving all "players" in the EM field

Avagene Moore: If each level of this business could walk a month in each other's shoes, we might have better understanding and relationships.

Amy Sebring: We are coming to the end. Both Project Impact and the new NFPA 1600 Standard incorporate the notion of a disaster committee. Also the LEPC (Local Emergency Planning Committee) under EPA regulations.

Question # 9

Do you have a committee, advisory council, or similar body?


Amy Sebring: No? None here except LEPC.

Ian Manock: Tasmania - all local government areas have an EM committee. Each of 3 regions has EM committee with a State level EM committee in place. Each region has a recovery committee with a state level recovery committee in place. Don't ask me about the effectiveness of some of the committees though!

Daryl Spiewak: LEPC here in Waco, TX and other counties. Not all of them are very active.

Amy Sebring: Here is the language in the NFPA Standard on an advisory committee. This is from the draft proposal, however, since there were no comments submitted on this point, I am guessing it remains as proposed.

2-3.1 The Disaster/Emergency Management Program Committee shall be established by the entity in accordance with its policy.

2-3.2 The committee shall include the disaster/emergency management program coordinator and others having the appropriate expertise and knowledge of the entity and authority to commit resources from all key functional areas within the entity and shall solicit applicable external representation from public and private entities.

Dennis Atwood: Good - that should be in the standard.

Lois McCoy: We, in NIUSR, have an Advisory Council, an Oversight Panel, various Task Forces and Work Groups. That's how we get our projects to fruition.

Question # 10

If your community implements a Disaster/Emergency Management Program Committee, as proposed by the NFPA 1600 Standard, who should be on the committee and how should it function?

Daryl Spiewak: I think it should incorporate existing groups. No sense in reinventing the wheel.

Amy Sebring: My personal opinion is that its focus should be balanced between all 4 phases. What is "applicable external representation?"

David Crews: Community leadership, EM, first responders, academia, business, government, volunteers, community members at large.

Amy Sebring: Seems to me it would need to be set up by sector to keep such a body from being too large.

Daryl Spiewak: Business community and NGOs.

Peter Picanso: It should include as many of the players as possible.

Amy Sebring: Planning as in city planning also.

Roger Kershaw: My community is more likely to only want to know if the NFPA 1600 is mandatory or not. Finding it isn't, there would be no implementation.

Amy Sebring: A sector approach was used by LEPC, however, I am not sure how successfully it has been actually realized. Roger, I did say IF.

Roger Kershaw: Just my comment on it being looked at or not.

Peter Picanso: As many of the top level people as can be pried away from their desks as possible.

Amy Sebring: Even if it is not mandatory, is this not a good idea?

Avagene Moore: I think so -- it is time.

Amy Sebring: What about a Disaster Coalition?

Peter Picanso: Sometimes the only way to get compliance is to make it mandatory.

Amy Sebring: I see we are running a bit over. I want to thank everyone for participating today. Some very good points and observations.

Dennis Atwood: Thanks to those who wrote the referenced papers. And, thanks, Amy for doing your usual excellent job -- People's Choice Award for moderator of the year!

Frank Livingston: If anyone wants to contact me I can be reached at [email protected] Our organization has 10,000 members nationwide and would love to help you break down the barriers within the fire and EMS field. It has always been a challenge to EM to get us involved in planning for OTHER than fire incidents.

Chris Saeger: Thank you Amy, Avagene, One closing comment, Dr. Quarantelli also wrote a similar article entitled Organizational Behavior and Implications for Disaster Planning, FEMA monograph series 1984, vol.1 number 2 it's got a more US EM focus.

Amy Sebring: Ava, can you give us upcoming, please?

Avagene Moore: Thanks, Amy, for leading this dynamic discussion today. Great participation, audience.


Our Wednesday January 26, 12:00 Noon EST session in the Tech Arena features a new product in emergency management. This product is called EM Assist; the product is billed as a comprehensive encyclopedia on emergency management and a dictionary of emergency management terms and acronyms. EM Assist is a CD ROM with more than 7000 documents downloaded from the Internet. These documents are accessible immediately and without the use of the Internet. Bill Karl, President of EM Assist, will be our guest speaker in the Tech Arena on January 26. Make plans to join us then for a glimpse of this new resource.

Amy, if I may, I want to urge everyone to look at the User Submitted Documents in the EIIP Virtual Library. <http://www.emforum.org/vlibrary/userdocs.htm>. We have new documents posted over the last few months. For example, our most recent submission is by Walter E. Wright, CEM, Linn County EMA, Cedar Rapids, Iowa -- his paper is "Civil Affairs Support to Domestic Disaster Relief." You will find many diverse topics by authors from around the globe. If you have a paper or other document that you would like to share, please see and follow the instructions for doing so at <http://www.emforum.org/vlibrary/submit.htm> . That's all for now, Amy.

Amy Sebring: Thank you, Avagene. We will post the text transcript this afternoon. We will adjourn the session for now, but you are welcome to stay for open, off-the-record discussion if you wish.