EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — February 13, 2008

Principles of Emergency Management
and the Emergency Management Roundtable

Michael D. Selves, CEM®
Past President, International Association of Emergency Managers
Member, Emergency Management Roundtable

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

Due to a technical problem, the responses during the Q&A were lost from the original transcript. We are profoundly sorry for the inconvenience. We have attempted to reconstruct the substance of the responses in summary form below. Please continue to check the EMI Higher Ed Website for related documents.

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone. On behalf of Avagene and myself, welcome to the Virtual Forum. We are glad you could join us. Our topic today is "Principles of Emergency Management (POEM) and the Emergency Management Roundtable."

As you have probably encountered, a lot of people do not know exactly what emergency management is, including some in government! This POEM initiative conducted over the past year has sought to bring some clarity to the discussion, by defining what emergency management is and does. Please note there are links to the relevant documents on our Background Page. [Or see http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/edu/emprinciples.asp]

Now it is my pleasure to introduce today's special guest. We are very happy to have Mike Selves back with us today. Mike is a native of Chase County, Kansas, where he recently retired from his position as Director of the Johnson County Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security in Olathe, Kansas. Among his many professional activities, Mike has been active in the National Association of Counties (NACo) and serves as Past President of IAEM. He is a member of the Emergency Management Roundtable, and originally sparked the discussion that ultimately led to the development of the Principles of Emergency Management.

We are also pleased to welcome Dr. Wayne Blanchard, the convener of the roundtable. Dr. Blanchard is the Emergency Management Higher Education Project Manager for FEMA/EMI. He has been with FEMA since 1980, and has more or less single handedly extended the teaching of emergency management at the college level nationwide.

Welcome to both of you, and thank you very much for being with us today. Dr. Blanchard will assist during the Q&A portion of our program. Mike Selves will start us off with an overview. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please. Mike the floor is yours.


Mike Selves: In March of 2007, Dr. Wayne Blanchard of FEMA's Emergency Management Higher Education Project, at the direction of Dr. Cortez Lawrence, Superintendent of FEMA's Emergency Management Institute, convened a working group of emergency management practitioners and academics to consider principles of emergency management.

This group became known as the Principles of Emergency Management (POEM) Roundtable. This project was prompted by the realization that while numerous books, articles and papers referred to "principles of emergency management", nowhere in the vast array of literature on the subject was there an agreed upon definition of what these principles were.

Additionally, the current policy discussions prompted by the catastrophic events along the U.S. Gulf Coast made it clear that a precise and accurate description of the scope and nature of the profession of emergency management was critically needed.

After a good deal of research and "animated" discussion, the group agreed on eight principles that would be used to guide the development of a doctrine of emergency management. In addition, the POEM Roundtable developed a working definition, vision and mission as a prelude to the eight principles.

The one-page Principles document has been endorsed by EMI, IAEM, NEMA, NFPA 1600 Committee, and the EMAP Committee. Formal adoption by the FEMA Administrator is in the process and we anticipate it soon.



Emergency management is the managerial function charged with creating the framework within which communities reduce vulnerability to hazards and cope with disasters.


Emergency management seeks to promote safer, less vulnerable communities with the capacity to cope with hazards and disasters.


Emergency management protects communities by coordinating and integrating all activities necessary to build, sustain, and improve the capability to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from threatened or actual natural disasters, acts of terrorism, or other man-made disasters.


Emergency management must be:

1. Comprehensive - emergency managers consider and take into account all hazards, all phases, all stakeholders and all impacts relevant to disasters.

"All Hazards" within a jurisdiction must be considered as part of a thorough risk assessment and prioritized on the basis of impact and likelihood of occurrence.

"All Phases" -- The Comprehensive Emergency Management Model on which modern emergency management is based defines four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

"All Impacts" -- Emergencies and disasters cut across a broad spectrum in terms of impact on infrastructure, human services, and the economy. Just as all hazards need to be considered in developing plans and protocols, all impacts or predictable consequences relating to those hazards must also be analyzed and addressed.

"All Stakeholders" -- Effective emergency management requires close working relationships among all levels of government, the private sector, and the general public.

2. Progressive - emergency managers anticipate future disasters and take preventive and preparatory measures to build disaster-resistant and disaster-resilient communities.

Given the escalating risks facing communities, emergency managers must become more progressive and strategic in their thinking. The role of the emergency manager can no longer be that of a technician but must evolve to that of a manager and senior policy advisor who oversees a community-wide program to address all hazards and all phases of the emergency management cycle.

3. Risk-driven - emergency managers use sound risk management principles (hazard identification, risk analysis, and impact analysis) in assigning priorities and resources.

Mitigation strategies, emergency operations plans, continuity of operations plans, and pre- and post-disaster recovery plans should be based upon the specific risks identified and resources should be allocated appropriately to address those risks.

4. Integrated - emergency managers ensure unity of effort among all levels of government and all elements of a community.

Unity of effort is dependent on both vertical and horizontal integration. This means that at the local level, emergency programs must be integrated with other activities of government. For example, department emergency plans must be synchronized with and support the overall emergency operations plan for the community.

In addition, plans at all levels of local government must ultimately be integrated with and support the community's vision and be consistent with its values.

5. Collaborative - emergency managers create and sustain broad and sincere relationships among individuals and organizations to encourage trust, advocate a team atmosphere, build consensus, and facilitate communication.

Collaboration must be viewed as an attitude or an organizational culture that characterizes the degree of unity and cooperation that exists within a community. In essence, collaboration creates the environment in which coordination can function effectively.

In disaster situations, the one factor that is consistently credited with improving the performance of a community is the degree to which there is an open and cooperative relationship among those individuals and agencies involved.

6. Coordinated - emergency managers synchronize the activities of all relevant stakeholders to achieve a common purpose.

In essence, the principle of coordination requires that the emergency manager think strategically, that he or she see the "big picture" and how each stakeholder fits into that mosaic. This type of thinking is the basis for the strategic program plan required under the National Preparedness Standard (NFPA 1600) and the Emergency Management Accreditation Program.

In developing the strategic plan, the emergency manager facilitates the identification of agreed-upon goals and then persuades stakeholders to accept responsibility for specific performance objectives.

7. Flexible - emergency managers use creative and innovative approaches in solving disaster challenges.

Flexibility is a key trait of emergency management and success in the emergency management field is dependent upon it. Being able to provide alternate solutions to stakeholders and then having the flexibility to implement these solutions is a formula for success in emergency management.

8. Professional- emergency managers value a science and knowledge-based approach based on education, training, experience, ethical practice, public stewardship and continuous improvement.

Professionalism in the context of the principles of emergency management pertains not to the personal attributes of the emergency manager but to a commitment to emergency management as a profession.

As you can see, these principles help to define the profession and to give some basic guidance to both academics and practitioners that there is much more to emergency management than the coordination of emergency services.

The purpose of the principles document, the explanatory document that accompanies it, as well as the doctrinal piece "Concepts and Principles of Emergency Management" which is under development by the POEM Roundtable is to clarify and expand the scope and nature of our profession.

Both the POEM "one pager" and the Explanatory "Monograph" are available on the EMI Higher Education web site and on the IAEM website, http://www.iaem.com . I'd be happy to stand for questions, comments, etc., and turn the floor back over to our Moderator.

Amy Sebring: Thanks very much Mike. Now, to proceed to your questions or comments.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

William Cumming: How would you describe the need for multi-disciplinary skills in EM?

[The importance of multi-disciplinary skills and two categories of professional skills were discussed.]

Isabel McCurdy: Mike, how does one "persuade stakeholders to accept responsibility?"

[The importance of related skills, such as communications skills, were cited.]

Steve Harrison: Mr. Selves: The "Principles," while straight-forward and succinctly stated, seem to re-package basic concepts FEMA presented in the Principles of Emergency Management document of March 2003 (IS-230). While not presented as "Eight Principles" in that document, the concepts are intrinsically contained therein. How would you describe the key differences?

[This is the first time that a concise, consensus statement has been formulated.]

Stuart Edick: Regarding professionalism, do you believe that we will begin to see a requirement for the certification as a CEM as a requirement for Federal positions?

[FEMA has been encouraging its staff to achieve CEM certification.]

Madelyn Rhenisch: How can we best integrate the public at large into these efforts to channel the well-meaning but untrained and generous response to events?

[The emergency management profession, and particularly local emergency managers must consider and take responsibility for including the general public as key stakeholders.]

Jeff Phillips: Mike and Wayne, is there anything new here? Is there anything that wasn’t well laid out in the 90s as we worked to develop the profession?

[Prior to POEM, there was no concise statement, or general agreement on emergency management principles.]

Greg Banner: My background was in the military and with the Principles of War, which pretty much all the services and all countries I know of have. There are a number of differences between the Army’s Principles of War and the way you described the Principles of Emergency Management, yet I think the objectives are similar – laying out a framework for looking at our systems to determine if they meet or violate any common principles. Did your group look at any of the DOD principles and how they are used within that realm?

[DoD principles are cited in the Higher Ed Program’s Guide to Emergency Management and Related Terms, Definitions, Acronyms, Programs and Legislation . See: http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/edu/docs/terms%20and%20definitions/Terms%20and%20Definitions.pdf]

Cedric Corpus: Mr. Selves, regarding certification, is the IAEM CEM designation the industry’s accepted form of demonstration of EM competencies? Though understandable, there are quite a few requirements to attain designation.

[Other types of professional certifications may be appropriate as well.]

Mike Daniska: Question for Mike Selves. You mentioned in Principle 3 that risk management should be the basis for resource allocation. I agree, but what advice would you have for emergency managers who must also balance political considerations when determining resource allocation?

[EM must consider all impacts including political, psychological, economic, etc.]

Jeff Phillips: At the doctrinal level, we settle back on phases of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery – or prevent, prepare, respond, recover?

[The four phases have been fairly stable since the 1970’s; however, emergency management continues to evolve.]

Heatbeat Beacon: Mr. Selves, you mentioned "synchronization" among community stakeholders. Does synchronization in this context mean temporal synchronization of events and alerts across "family of systems" supported by the underlying network management changes supporting "spontaneous integration" of disparate organizations of the stakeholders (referencing network centric warfare techniques) at the subnet level.

[Collaboration and coordination across the broad interests and disciplines of a jurisdiction are key.]

Bruce Binder: Mike (and Wayne), gaining acceptance of a statement of the principles by the EM community is an important first step. Can you describe what the next step in this process is and what you see as the final outcome/product?

[Further efforts to conduct outreach to enhance awareness of the Principles will be conducted. The roundtable will reconvene to evaluate progress. The Principles will be incorporated into educational materials in the future.]

Wayne Blanchard: We are actually working on two projects related to an expansion of the Principles. The EM Roundtable is working on an emergency management "doctrine" kind of document, as Mike noted, which will greatly expand on the Principles in terms of emergency management concepts, so that it will be easier to insert material into training courses here at EMI or to develop a new "Basic Emergency Management" course. We have commissioned the development of a college course on the Concepts and Principles of Emergency Management.


Amy Sebring: That's all we have time for today. Thank you very much Mike [and Wayne] for an excellent job. We hope you enjoyed the experience once again. Please stand by just a moment while we make a couple of quick announcements.

Before we adjourn, please take a moment now, or after you review the transcript to Rate today's session and/or write a review or post your comments. You can access the form either from today's Background Page or from our home page. If you do not have time to write a short review or comment, then please just take a moment to do the rating. It should take less than a minute, and will assist future visitors to our site to find useful information.

We are very pleased to announce a new Partner today, AWAREA Corporation; URL: http://www.VoiceALERTonline.com ; POC: Harry H. Hart, III. "AWAREA provides a global mass notification system which can message up to 100,000 people in under 15 minutes by voice, fax, e-mail, text messaging, satellite, IM, and pager. Used in emergencies or crisis, VoiceALERT allows for one-call-to-reach-all assurance that the message will be delivered."

Becoming an EIIP Partner is a way to show your support, and possibly help us to keep the services we provide available to you. It is easy to do; see the link to Partnership for You from our home page, and complete the simple form provided.

Thanks to everyone for participating today. We stand adjourned but before you go, please help me show our appreciation to Mike and Wayne for a fine job.