EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — January 13, 2010

The Future of Emergency Management
A Group Discussion on Challenges in the Years Ahead

Eric E. Holdeman
Principal, Eric Holdeman and Associates

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

The following has been prepared from a transcription of the recording.

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone and Happy New Year! Welcome to EMforum.org. This is a group discussion today so we encourage your participation.

Since we are starting a new year and a new decade, we thought it would be a good time to gaze into our crystal balls, and look ahead to the future of emergency management over the next 10 years. Will it get better? Worse? Or will it stay about the same?

We hope that you have had an opportunity to review today’s discussion questions in advance, and we will also be displaying them one by one, in the form of an instant poll, as we go along. These are only intended to stimulate our discussion and are by no means intended to limit your ideas.

Now it is my pleasure to introduce today’s guest, who is well known to many of us from his lively commentary on emergency management issues, both through his Disaster Zone blog and in the press: Eric. E. Holdeman is the Principal for Eric Holdeman and Associates, previously with ICF International, and prior to that, Emergency Management Director for King County, Washington in the Seattle area.

In 2007, Government Technology Magazine recognized him as one of the Top 25 people in the nation who, "Challenge convention, confront entrenched bureaucracy and promote innovation." Eric has also authored numerous articles for professional journals and opinion pieces for local, regional and national newspapers. He is a writer for Emergency Management Magazine where he contributes feature articles and also has a regular column.

Welcome back Eric and thank you for being with us today.

Eric Holdeman: It’s great to be with you, Amy, and I see there are 60 people on the line so I look forward to interacting with them.

[Group Discussion]

Question 1: In the next 5-10 years, many very experienced Emergency Management professionals will be retiring. What impact will this have on Emergency Management in this country?

  • Negative impact = 30 (52%)
  • No impact = 12 (21%)
  • Positive impact = 15 (26%)

Eric Holdeman: One of the things, I’m going to share a few comments after each one of these questions, and there are 10 questions. So my intent is not to dominate the discussion, just to throw some stuff out there and look forward to seeing what you all have to contribute to this. I know there is at least one university person in the list, and some private sector people, so please, do participate.

On this particular question, and actually I’ve written my March/April column (Eric’s Corner) in Emergency Management Magazine on this topic—it’s "Next Generation Emergency Managers", and I do believe we’re in the midst of this transition of leadership—it’s underway already, now. As I know people throughout the nation, and then in particular, here in Washington state, there has been a generation of leaders that have been in charge in the senior positions, and they’re all late fifties, early sixties. There is going to be this passing of the baton onward.

I think it’s important that we not lose some of the institutional knowledge that these people have with them, and it’s going to be up to us who are perhaps phasing out to be mentoring this next generation of leaders. In order to do that, I think we have to give the next generation more authority now to have the responsibility, and be engaged, have senior positions within the organization, larger scale projects.

It might mean that they are really challenged. It might mean that there is some failure as part of doing that, but I think that’s the only way they are going to grow into the leaders of tomorrow. We’ve got to take some risks with these folks, and invest in the ones we think can really succeed. Not every person who wants to be an emergency manager is cut out for it, and we all know that. When you find that diamond in the rough, it’s up to us to make that happen.

I also see, and I’ll talk about technology more later, but these younger folks grew up "wired", if you will, with computers, hand-helds, PDAs—they can multitask in the electronic world. The pace of adopting technology in emergency management, I think, while it’s fast now, it’s going to accelerate quickly as these new people assume leadership positions, are not afraid of technology—adopting it, trying it on for size. Those are my comments, and what all do you guys have to contribute on question one?

Ric Skinner: I suggest an "Emergency Management Jobs Corps" be established and funded to keep that long time institutional knowledge in the Emergency Management domain.

Eric Holdeman: It’s good. I don’t think we can just let this happen organically. I’ve been working on building trust, type thing, and it isn’t something that just happens, you have to work at it. We need to be purposeful about this transition in leadership to the next generation. Anything like this and other ideas like it are great.

Valerie Lucus: Positive impact: We'll see more professionally educated Emergency Managers, moving toward Emergency Management as true "management" instead of response-oriented.

Eric Holdeman: Absolutely, Valerie. We’ve got 150 institutions of higher learning pumping out professionally educated emergency managers. Sometimes these people, I’ve talked to a number of them, are having trouble finding jobs. At entry level in emergency management, we need to make room for them within our organizations for junior positions so that we can grow them into the professionals of tomorrow.

Karen Scott-Martinet: I don't see that we will lose as many personnel as expected because people are working longer. Also some are retiring from one position to go to another. My husband and I, both professional Emergency Managers, are already planning our post-retirement careers in Emergency Management, as consultants, teachers, etc.

Question 2: What new or emerging hazards will Emergency Managers be expected to address in the next several years?

  • Critical Infrastructure Protection = 8 (13%)
  • Cyber-security = 5 (8%)
  • Global warming = 3 (5%)
  • Emerging diseases = 0 (0%)
  • Other = 5 (8%)
  • All of the above = 39 (65%)

Eric Holdeman: Not in any priority order here, but certainly I see climate change—and whether it’s global warming or climate change, which is the "politically correct" term—I don’t care what’s making it get warmer, science is pretty solid that the earth is getting warmer. As emergency managers, we’re into consequence management, so whatever is happening with global warming, we’re going to need to address that. It’s not just going to be the Pacific islands, there.

Infrastructure takes a long time to fix, and if we’re going to work on this, we need to start working on it now. Certainly the rest of the world has paid more attention to this topic than perhaps ourselves. The particular role I see for emergency management in the future is climate adaptation. One of the issues we need to sort out as a discipline is, what are the similarities between climate adaptation and mitigation. Are they exactly the same? Can we substitute one for the other?

If you remember the debate about protection and mitigation early in the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, that debate rage—I think we need to start talking now about what is climate adaptation and how do we fit into that, and how does this fit with one of our primary roles of mitigation.

I think terrorism is getting much worse everywhere. At some point, it will be a more significant threat, not only in New York, D.C., L.A., and larger, but throughout the United States. This includes soft targets like stores and mass transportation systems. I had the opportunity about 3 or 4 years ago, the former head of the Israeli Secret Service was out here, the Mossad, and he had a presentation.

Afterwards, I said, "Why haven’t we seen dust bombings here in the United States?" And he said, "It’s not part of their political agenda. As soon as it becomes part of their political agenda, you will have them here in the United States. There’s nothing you can do to prevent it."

Italian shoes—if you want to know what American women will be wearing for shoe wear, look what Italians are wearing the last couple of years. Sooner or later, those terrorism shoes are going to be here in the United States, and I think, everywhere.

The other piece I’m concerned about is the widening disparity of economic welfare in our nation. We’ve always had this upward mobility, and it appears to me we’re segmenting into the "haves" and the "have-nots". When you see the radicalization of nationals, like you see in England, that’s not something that can’t happen here.

I think it can happen here, and in fact, it is happening in our prison system. It’s one of the places where more radicalization and people are very concerned about this, where we’re formatting our own U.S. born radicals in our prison system. I see prison riots as part of this in the future. It’s been a long time since Attica and some of those big riots of the seventies or sixties, but I see that happening.

Lastly, just the population growth in urban areas and on the coast is just going to increase our vulnerability. No matter what happened in Katrina or other hurricanes, they are flocking to the coast that either puts them in hurricane or in high danger of earthquakes. I look forward to what you all have to say.

Derek White: I have heard some discussion among scientists about making sure we are better prepared for electromagnetic pulse (EMP) issues, caused either by solar flares or nuclear detonations. Emergency Management should look at contingencies for loss of power, communications, etc.

Eric Holdeman: I think the idea of emergent diseases; I think that’s a great one. Think about SARS. Where did it come from? When it emerged on stage, what damage to the health system, if you will, and also just to the economy of Toronto—for whatever reason, being fairly localized there, I think these emerging designer diseases certainly, from a terrorist’s standpoint, is going to be much easier to engineer a disease as a terrorist weapon in the future.

Because of the mobility of our world population and global warming will be tied to this, as pest born diseases are moving further into northern climates because of this, those two are probably tied together.

Avagene Moore: Although I don't dismiss any of the hazards listed, I always fear that our knee-jerk reaction as a nation to any new threat will override the fact that natural disasters still occur and will continue. Let's not forget that the loss of life, damage and devastation are still part of the equation for emergency management and citizens are not and do not prepare very well for those disasters.

Eric Holdeman: Flooding is the number one disaster when you look at property damage and loss of life in the United States.

Karen Scott-Martinet: Unless we have our resilient basic infrastructure systems, we won't be able to handle any of the new challenges.

Christopher Tantlinger: Partnering with all vocations and professing All Hazards will be the key to addressing these new or emerging issues.

Steven Spies: Will WMD, especially chemical and biological weapons, be considered a realistic threat?

Eric Holdeman: I do, only because of the sophistication of the potential enemies we have, and their willingness to employ them, and sacrifice themselves in the employment. The delivery system, as in the Tokyo attack, does not have to be very sophisticated.

Kristine: Preliminary reports, unconfirmed by science at this time, suggest that our communication and notifications systems require the use of unseen yet potent frequencies/ energies that may have medical implications on users, especially children. What if our infrastructure does place us in danger, what systems will switch to or how quickly can we shield ourselves?? (e.g. cell phones use and brain tumors)

Question 3: What role will emerging technologies play in Emergency Management practice?

  • Interoperable communications = 6 (9%)
  • Social networking = 5 (8%)
  • Data sharing = 1 (1%)
  • Public warning = 2 (3%)
  • Other = 2 (3%)
  • All of the above = 46 (47%)

Eric Holdeman: I say, just look back 10 or 14 years ago as we started to use the Internet, really started to use Email, and then the Internet, web pages, and how that has revolutionized how we do things today. Planning, for instance—when I was in King County, we no longer printed plans, we said, "The plans are posted, you download them."

Public education materials, it has revolutionized us already and I don’t see that pace slowing at all. We’ve seen information management systems, warning systems, only a few that we use now. It wasn’t that long ago we were using Viewgraph, and now everything is on PowerPoint, and now here we are doing a webinar, webcam kind of thing—GPS devices.

Our ability to keep up with the technology is going to be very challenging because these are all—we’re used to as emergency managers and in government is just putting money towards staff and not into the operations component. If you add technology, there is going to be cost associated not only with the purchase of it, but with the maintaining of it, and the replacement of it.

These operations and maintenance costs are something we have to budget more for and convince our leadership that it is needed. I’ll make my plug in for social media. Social media is going to dominate how we do business in the future, just as the internet has revolutionized in the last 10 to 14 years how we do business. Today I think there’s going to be a challenge that needs to be sorted out of how ICS interfaces with social media.

We have a movement through social media where citizens become more active and demand participation during disasters, or they’re going to participate with or without our permission. I think technology is a component of that. Certainly newspapers are going to be dead, as we’ve known them for the last several hundred years, perhaps within even 5 years.

Just think about the whole premise for the Joint Information Center is based on feeding the media. I think it’s going to be feeding social media, instead. What do you guys think?

Ric Skinner:
If adequately recognized and adopted, these emerging technologies will have an increasingly important and considerably valuable role in Emergency Management--especially cost effective, CAP-compliant information interoperability systems, and those that include GIS as a core tool.

Valerie Lucus: Instant communication in all forms and formats and giving the public the information they are coming to expect right now! And then managing the valid vs. hysterical rumor control. In the long run, isn’t communication the base for everything we do?

J. P. DeMeritt: None of these are emerging technologies anymore. What is changing is how they interact according to our desires for information. What these technologies have the power to do is put more information into our hands more quickly. The question is how we validate that information and ensure we're acting upon the best available information.

David Pruschki: Interoperable communications seems to be the biggest problem that responders have. While new technology may address this problem, funding is what will correct it.

Eric Holdeman: I know equipment is a piece of it, but I think it’s the people component of not wanting to work with one another that’s a bigger issue than the technology. The technology integration is there, it’s getting individuals who are members of organizations to want to do it that is the biggest challenge.

Bob Walker: Compatibility, interoperability, standardization must be addressed to be fully realized.

John Streeb: I fear the emerging over-reliance on technology, which we all know may not be available in actual disaster conditions as they are in our exercises. For example, WebEOC may be a good tool, but in an Electro-Magnetic type incident, those abilities may be minimized.

J.R. Jones: New networking abilities could play a great part in teaching citizens in how to take care of themselves, and in collecting correct information.

Phil Padgett: A visit last summer to FEMA's new national Exercise and Simulation Center (has an operational role) showed their interest in use of avatars for virtual meetings to help bridge federal, state, local and private sector coordination across geographic boundaries. Interesting.

Question 4: What role will federal grants have in the future in terms of driving local priorities?

  • Bigger role = 38 (73%)
  • Smaller role = 6 (11%)
  • About the same = 8 (15%)

Eric Holdeman: Those grants have certainly been the tail that have wagged the emergency management dog. Sometimes I feel like an ambulance chaser, but really I just chase grants as an emergency manager. When the feds fund something, that causes the state and local programs to shift directions.

Whether it’s Project Impact, which I was a strong promoter of, that provided a national emphasis towards mitigation, and then just the tsunami, if you will, of Homeland Security grants. Think of how that has directed your programs and your staff time for that. These grants are very directive on what happens at the state and local programs.

The national trend is, big disaster, Congress throws money at it, that creates grant programs, and then we’re off and running in a new direction. Hopefully, the current move towards all-hazards, multi-hazards use of grant funds will continue into the future. We balanced out a little bit from the move towards shift terrorism newly following 9/11 and a broader use of funds.

One of the concerns I have is—should the budget deficit become the driver, and not terrorism or threats and that, if they enact draconian budget cuts, then the size of emergency management programs will shrink dramatically at the state and local level. Many of the emergency management programs throughout the nation are really federally funded programs with significant numbers of staff.

If we go into the dumper in the federal budget, I could see emergency management really plummeting, potentially, in the near future.

Question 5: What are the biggest remaining challenges in our current response capabilities, and will they change in the future?

  • Sustainable funding for EM programs = 29 (49%)
  • Underserved communities = 3 (5%)
  • Special Needs = 10 (16%)
  • Politics/media = 1 (1%)
  • Other = 4 (6%)
  • All of the above = 12 (20%)

Eric Holdeman: I only have a couple of bullets on this. Certainly, people talking about communications interoperability, more and more ways of communicating are going to occur in the future. I just read recently, and I actually blogged on this, that public CIO (Chief Information Officers) in late 2009, when they were surveyed what their biggest issues or challenges—social media wasn’t even on their list. Here in 2010, it’s number one.

That shows you how radically it can change from a technological standpoint, and I think technology is going to drive a lot of our response from that standpoint. I would refer back to the role of social media and citizens that I already talked about.

I think disasters are getting bigger, certainly more costly, and our regionalization that is occurring in urban areas, that instead of responding as individual jurisdictions, we need to start thinking as urban areas, or a region. When I say region, it’s not the federal multi-state region. I see a region as being one that shares a common population and has shared resources also. Here in Washington state, I call it the central Puget Sound, there are probably about 5 counties—three of them account for more than half the state’s population.

I think if you go to just about every other state with larger urban areas, you’re going to see this concentration of population in one or two areas of the state. I suppose California has more than that. Those urban areas need to be functioning more together as an organized pull. Urban Areas Security Initiative has moved in this direction and hopefully we’ll be thinking more as regions and not just as individual cities, agencies, or special purpose districts.

Bary Lusby: Unfortunately, the sustainment of funding is going to drive the response to special needs and underserved communities.

Eric Holdeman: It’s a great tie-in to the last one about grants—we had Katrina, we had certainly underserved, special needs populations. Following that disaster, we saw the national emphasis, not only with funds, but programmatic, that’s when urban areas were all asked to put together an evacuation plan, no matter whether it made sense or not.

It does show the connection between grants, funding and disasters; and how underserved communities or special needs populations—if we were talking six years ago, it might not have even been on the topics.

Jim Smith: Funding will be an even bigger challenge as we move into the future. Without funding all the other programs go away. Since we rely so heavily on federal funding, if they do disappear we are in big trouble.

Ric Skinner: Knowing what we have, who needs it, how to get it there, and what to do with it when it gets there. This addresses issues of inventory (supplies, equipment, people, etc.), logistics, decision support, etc.

Phil Padgett: Public-Private Partnership is an area of enormous potential and complex, difficult challenges on the way to its achievement (just consider the problems of standards for Private Sector preparedness).

John Streeb: Like was mentioned in another question, it is not so much the tools, but it will likely remain a constant challenge to keep the "silo" structure of government down and foster involvement of non-Emergency Management departments and private entities in the overall Emergency Management program.

Eric Holdeman: One thing that I’ve seen a growth in is you have your core emergency management program within a government agency, or a jurisdiction, but now, there are more and more emergency managers operating within separate agencies, whether it’s a state agency or a larger urban area (the Department of Transportation, for instance), they actually have emergency manager positions on board. That has really helped in our disaster response—the full gamut—preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery.

Avagene Moore: I believe it is time to bring underserved communities / rural areas up to a basic level playing field. My personal experience with rural counties around the country makes me believe wholeheartedly that rural folks are neglected with little to work with but hazards that must be responded to on a daily basis. There is little accountability from huge amounts of money spent in the past few years - let's share some with the folks that are working with little to nothing.

Eric Holdeman: My thoughts go out to the people of Haiti when you think about that.

J. P. DeMeritt: A problem I see is the emphasis upon urban issues to the exclusion of rural response capabilities. Granted that the vast majority of Americans live in cities, we nonetheless have significant numbers of people living in rural areas. And when urban populations have to evacuate -- as when Houston vacated because of the hurricane -- many of those people end up in rural areas.

Question 6: How will the relative roles of local, state, and federal government, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations evolve?

  • Greater role for private sector = 23 (46%)
  • Greater role for military = 2 (4%)
  • More centralization at the national level = 10 (20%)
  • Less centralization at the national level = 3 (6%)
  • Better coordination with volunteer organizations = 7 (14%)
  • Other = 5 (10%)

Eric Holdeman: In my experience in Project Impact that started to try to get a Public/Private partnership formulated more directly with national emphasis on it, not on a particular area of emergency management, that would be mitigation, but that really launched my experiences in that. It has really caught on and continued in some areas.

So I see that while it takes time and effort to bring these parties together, there is energy for the very segments of our community (public, private, non-profit) to be working closer together. This is going to play a bigger role in communities as disasters continue to impact their bottom line. That’s what’s going to cause them to do different things.

Here in Washington State, a lot of debate has been had on what caused Boeing to open a second plant on the east coast versus the west coast. One of the reasons they gave was to diversify and limit the impacts of a natural hazard (earthquakes here) on their operation, so that their entire production line would not be brought down by a single catastrophe.

I think those types of business decisions as they occur will also cause us to be working closer together. The federal government’s role, unless there’s a philosophical change, I see it becoming bigger than even what it is now. They could become more directive, and that directiveness would come via the use of grants.

Look at NIMS. If you don’t adopt NIMS you’re not eligible to receive all federal grants. Those types of things will increase, not decrease, in the future. Sometimes it is not good, and sometimes it is good.

There has been this back and forth war, if you will, on the role of the military in natural disasters. A push from federal legislative levels to nationalize the National Guard early—people throw out the term "martial law" without understanding what that means. I’m not saying that it’s going to happen, but I think that debate, as people see the military force as a last resort, have not gone away and will continue into the future. The challenge for the military is—I got out of the infantry in the Army in 1991, and the U.S. Army is half the size it was when I got out 20 years ago. Half the size—that is what’s stretching their capabilities in Afghanistan and Iraq. Their ability—though there may be this debate to support it, I think it’s a physical constraint when they’re engaged like they are now.

J.R. Jones: As our nation changes from a traditional "pioneer" attitude, that individuals are responsible for their own welfare in a disaster, to an expectation that the central government will come in and take care of them, we may need to teach and change that passiveness, and in language they can understand.

Phil Padgett: My vote for a greater role for the private sector is not cast in favor of privatizing Emergency Management. Emergency Management is a public trust. However, there are emerging interesting ways to provide to Emergency Management organizations on-call support as a service from the private sector, particularly in effective use of imaging technologies.

Richard Witte: Hopefully evolve into more collaboration in mitigation efforts, which will lessen the effects of a disaster.

Anbing Xue: Federal government should play more important role in emergency process.

Question 7: What is the role of our professional organizations in shaping the future of the profession?

  • "Educating" political leaders on issues = 11 (20%)
  • Administering professional credentials = 0 (0%)
  • Supporting student education = 1 (1%)
  • Outreach to the public = 6 (11%)
  • Other = 2 (3%)
  • All of the above = 33 (62%)

Eric Holdeman: A huge issue here is, Congress knows about and recognizes National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) and the International Association of Emergency Managers. If they want to seek input on what the emergency managers or what the professionals think about this new law, this issue, whatever, they know who to turn to, and are going to them, and those organizations have become much more active in the past decade and even more so into the future.

I think they are playing a huge rule today and I think that could be even bigger in the future. That’s not to say that new organizations might come from top up, or individual leaders within them who have authority and speak with authority.

I think about Stephen Flynn, who wrote "The Edge of Disaster". He is highly influential, and his basis for influence is he wrote a book that was popular and rang a bell with organizations, legislative and private, what have you. In this era of personality, if you will, we could have that type of thing pop up in the future also. What do you guys think about your organizations and who represents you? Also, I would say there’s a private sector side of things, not just the government—associations and contingency planning, etcetera.

Bob Briley: What is your opinion on the IAEM using a degree for certification?

Eric Holdeman: I tell everybody on the staff that works for me now that if you don’t have a degree, you’re not going very far in our modern society. The B.A. degree has replaced a high school degree for anyone trying to be in a professional degree. That’s just my reality and what I see, both in the public and private sector. That train has left the station and you need to get on board. I tell folks, if you want to advance, you’ve got to have that piece of paper.

Valerie Lucus: From my perspective: the difference between Emergency Management and Business Continuity Planning is negligible. Add in risk management and you have a whole package, holistically addressing hazard and risk. Professional organizations could help promote that idea. I’m not hopeful "turf" issues will allow that to happen.

Eric Holdeman: Something I need to mention, too, is we need to make sure, if we can, that these associations and organizations hopefully can speak with one voice. Because if anything kills legislation, it’s when people from the same discipline come and provide opposing views. That leads to inaction. The coordination between professional associations—I don’t know the current statusbut it needs to be good if we want to move forward.

Jim Smith: Professional organizations can help us unify all fields of Emergency Management (government, private sector, Higher Ed, NGOs) so we can speak with one voice. Sort of a "Unified Command" for Emergency Management agencies.

Derek White: I would like to see our professional organizations at both state and national levels have a more pro-active outreach effort toward new Emergency Management folks and college students. This goes along with Eric's mentoring idea.

Eric Holdeman: It’s important that associations recognize (it goes back to one of the folks who made a comment) that they represent everyone. They represent the large urban areas, and they represent rural areas, also. They need to articulate that. Sometimes that brings about a milquetoast response and opinion, but associations do represent everyone, not just one portion of their constituency. That’s a dance they need to do internally with their membership.

Phil Padgett: Preserving the all hazard focus. Championing national plans, preparedness, and response as national--not predominantly federal. Broad adoption of best practice-based standards (like EMAP). Professionalization.

Marianne Pollay: I think professional organizations are a good path to bridging the gaps in communication, e.g. silo thinking. For this reason, I was disappointed the APA - American Planning Assoc - was not one of the endorsing organizations involved in NEMA's "Recommendations for an Effective National Mitigation Effort." Thoughts on how to use professional organizations to promote interdisciplinary approach to Emergency Management/mitigation, all phases of EM?

Avagene Moore: It is critical that citizens and Emergency Management-related folks must speak up and let their wants and wishes be known. We have representatives; silence is unforgivable. Let's support our professional organizations. Please join if you are not involved as an active member.

Question 8: Will social attitudes towards personal preparedness and mitigation measures change?

  • Individuals will accept more responsibility = 12 (23%)
  • Individuals will accept less responsibility = 20 (39%)
  • No change = 19 (37%)

Eric Holdeman: It just does seem to be that there is a national trend towards entitlement. If I put myself in hazard’s way, it’s not my responsibility to fix all the damages that occur to me. Someone else should do that. I’m not hopeful that that trend will be reversed, unfortunately. It just seems there’s a growing entitlement mentality.

Some of it comes from our own legislators. When a disaster happens in their district or state, whatever, they are out there fighting to rebuild in places that should not be populated from that standpoint.

I could use my son—he’s 36, a schoolteacher, married to a schoolteacher, who wants, because of his wife, to live in a valley that is subject to flooding, liquefaction during an earthquake and lahars from Mount Rainier. They’re informed, they understand, but they are driven by other desires to put themselves in harm’s way—again, educated people making poor choices in my mind.

Perhaps, just perhaps, social media might help in the future in having more of a dialog where they hear from one another. They’re not hearing from a government or other entities. People will trust what they hear from peers, and that might be an opportunity to change in the future. I don’t hold a lot of hope for that.

Richard Witte: The social attitudes change temporarily after a disaster, then complacency sets in. I would like to see a federal 'Stimulus Check' that could only be used for individual/family preparedness.

Eleanor Jewett: With a national campaign, you might be able to create a sea change in social behavior. Maybe we need a broad media campaign like they had with deterring smoking, or using seat belts. Among other activities, people lobbied the entertainment industry to shoot their films differently. Watch a movie today and most people buckle up their seat belts, and there are far fewer actors smoking in a movie. Twenty years ago it was different. To reach this goal, I think we need to enlist support from people outside emergency management. Perhaps there are nonprofit organizations who would take on this challenge. What do you think?

Eric Holdeman: I think those are great points that were made there. We all talk about trying to educate in the schools. Of course, schools are being challenged every day to do everything except educate their students, in many respects. If we could get in at the school level on a national scale, we could grow it from the bottom up and do many of the things suggested there.

It’s like recycling. I feel guilty if I don’t recycle aluminum cans these days, and 20 years ago that would not have been true. I’ve seen my own personal behavior change.

Valerie Lucus: Disagree! Deciding to put yourself in harm's way is different than accepting responsibility for what happens. Don't discount the public's interest in making those kinds of decisions.

Phil Padgett: Attitudes can be changed for the better with a lot of education and reasonable incentives. There is a "business case" to be made to organizations, families, and individuals in favor of being prepared. Over time, people will get positive feedback from the experience of being prepared. We just have to get them to first base.

Kristine: Unfortunately, Government is growing; citizens expect their Government to take care of them. The ‘have nots’ want what the ‘haves’ have. They are expecting the Government to make sure "all men are equal."

Question 9: What areas of Emergency Management could benefit from future research?

  • Hazards analysis = 1 (2%)
  • Vulnerability analysis = 5 (11%)
  • Politics of Emergency Management = 8 (18%)
  • Social psychology = 8 (18%)
  • Other = 3 (6%)
  • All of the above = 19 (43%)

Eric Holdeman: I would say only one comment here—there is an opportunity for emergency management and science to work much closer together. A lot of times as emergency managers, we’re not using the existing research that’s out there today within our programs because we’re either not aware of it, or we’re not interacting with those disciplines.

Individually, if we reach out to the university system within our communities or states, we can influence that research for the future and also understand what has been done and try to apply it today.

Marty Shaub: Leadership and the kind of leadership necessary to align public and private involvement, and management of catastrophic events.

Valerie Lucus: We have hazard and vulnerability research; understanding why people act or react the way they do and how to shape that in a positive manner is what is going to help make a difference.

Eric Holdeman: I have one light bullet to comment there, Valerie. I agree with you. It’s interesting; Miletti says all the research is done, although he can be pretty emphatic making these types of statements, on how well the research is ever done because our values and how we interact are always changing. I’m with you on that.

Question 10: Coming full circle, will an infusion of young people into the profession enhance Emergency Management in the future?

  • Better = 39 (78%)
  • Worse = 2 (4%)
  • About the same = 9 (18%)

Eric Holdeman: Absolutely. After being the business for awhile, you can become jaded. We think we know what works and what doesn’t work, because we’ve tried different things. What ambitious, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young people do is bring new perspectives, new energy and a willingness to take on things that we think aren’t fixable, but may be fixable with new approaches, new energy, and a different cast of characters working on those issues.

I have high hopes that because of this professionalization of emergency management, the discipline, the change in age, energy, and enthusiasm—yes, we’re going to lose some on institutional knowledge—but I think the professionalization, the talent and technology savvy people are going to come into the business. It’s going to be a huge advantage into the next decade and beyond.


Avagene Moore: Amen! Let's mentor the next generation and encourage them as much as we possibly can.


Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. Thank you very much Eric for an excellent job today and we look forward to your future blog postings at Disaster Zone.

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