The Rocky Road Ahead Emergency Management Once Removed January 31, 2023 By Jim Mullen “Wake me up when it’s all over, when I’m wiser and I’m older…” * Emergency managers (state and local) may be excused for feeling this way during most election years, when relatively minor incidents can suddenly become HUGE, with the executive’s staff reacting/often overreacting to events that in another year might have gone unnoticed. It’s not unusual, particularly in election years, to have to explain (patiently, and multiple times)to executive -level staff the sometimes-tedious bureaucratic pace of the disaster approval process for a presidential declaration that [...]
The Blame Game Emergency Management Once Removed January 16, 2023 By Jim Mullen Major disasters occur all the time, usually resulting in inquiries about the degree of advance warning, or the level of preparation of authorities for a worst-case scenario. “Blame” most often accompanies catastrophic events when perceptions are that readiness or critical decision-making was deficient. In the subsequent rush to judgment, the “blame” is frequently misplaced, or at least not shared proportionately. Emergency managers can relate; they are often the first to be offered up for criticism when things go wrong. A friend with considerable expertise in the public [...]
The Earth is "Illin" Emergency Management Once Removed December 19, 2023 By Jim Mullen Last May the Associated Press reported that a study by the international Earth Commission (our planet’s annual “wellness check”) suggests that Planet Earth has entered the danger zone with respect to climatic impacts on “phosphorus and nitrogen contamination of water from fertilizer overuse, groundwater supplies, fresh surface water, the unbuilt natural environment and the overall natural and human-built environment” – happily (I guess!) the study concluded that air pollution has not quite reached a similar danger point. The study reflects the conclusion of reputable scientists, whose [...]
In this final summary of the recent annual forum of the National Emergency Management Association held in Memphis, Tennessee in October, I found most compelling the panel discussion entitled “Combating Contested Information During Disaster Response and Recovery” addressed the emerging threat of what is called “MDM”: meaning Misinformation, Dis-information, and Mal-information.
A follow- up to my recent post (“A Thought about Taking the AI Plunge”) on the risk/reward associated embracing artificial intelligence comes from the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) October 2023 forum panel discussion on this subject.
The rising angst over the apparent advance in artificial intelligence, or AI, called to mind the limerick (“Daisy…” etc.) that HAL, the state-of-the-art computer in the film “2001, A Space Odyssey” was reduced to repeating when HAL’S human soul mate (Dave) attempted to unplug him/it (?). HAL survived, but it did not go well for “Dave”.
Shortly after the audacious 2008 Mumbai, India terrorist attack which took 160 lives, a Seattle Police Department Assistant Chief mused that a similarly trained team could paralyze a city like Seattle for a “considerable” time. Mumbai illustrated how a team of well-trained bad actors could exact considerable damage.
The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) biannual gatherings are opportunities for information-sharing and straightforward discussions with government and private sector leaders. State (and territorial) emergency management directors occupy unique roles. Responsible to the governor or a senior official – in Washington State it’s The Adjutant General (TAG) – they not only deal with issues affecting their respective jurisdictions (while balancing the political inclinations of elected officials), but aided by Association staff must be alert to developments on the national front that could impact local and state government.
Educators and senior emergency management officials have pondered what would motivate a person to aspire to a career in emergency management. How do we attract bright young students while providing continuing education and growth opportunities for those already immersed in emergency management roles? This is not just a problem of the moment how can emergency management survive, and thrive, in the long term?