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Emergency Management, Business Continuity/Continuity of Operations, and Related Systems

When disaster strikes we rarely have time to think let alone make new plans -- It pays to be prepared!

Emergency Management and Disaster Response in Public-Private Partnerships


Marvine Hamner
Shane Stovall
Doaa Taha
Salah Brahimi

Editorial Advisory Board

Dr. Walter Ammann,
Chairman, Global Risk Forum
Mr. Robert Bankey,
Vice President, Mission Assurance Division,
Raytheon UTD
Dr. Ozlem Ergun,
Co-Director, Center for Health and Humanitarian
Logistics, Georgia Institute of Technology
Mr. George Haddow,
(former) Deputy Chief of Staff to James Lee Witt
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency
Mr. Paul Masson,
Managing Director, StarNet, LLC

More details below...

Addressing Challenges in Emergency Management and Public Health Systems

Marvine Hamner


Since 9/11 America has been charged with facing up to and meeting the challenges of emergency management and evolving public health systems.  Not a day goes by without a news story of some "new" incident somewhere -- whether natural or manmade.  Americans report that they do not feel safer today than they have in the past.  Experts report that our systems, e.g. the newly implemented National Response Framework, will not work.  That they will fail in the event of any large disaster.  Simply browsing the internet can create a sense of confusion and panic due to the number of hits dwelling on virtually every crisis or disaster known, and some previously unknown, to humanity.  This white paper is intended to capture the essence of and challenges in the practice of emergency management today along with facets of and challenges in today's public health systems.  In the end some suggestions will be made that are intended to further evolve our principles and practices and to help further develop our systems.

Several definitions of "Emergency Management" exist.  These definitions range from the simple:

Managing the framework (Hazards, Phases, Impacts and Stakeholders) within which vulnerabilities to hazards are reduced and disasters are coped with. (FEMA)

to the complex:

The science of managing complex systems and multidisciplinary personnel to comprehensively address all phases (Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery) of emergencies and disasters across all types of hazards. (ICDRM)

Unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult to see what emergency management really is from these definitions.  Emergency management is really an integrated, collaborative approach to risk management.  Since emergency management is by nature "risk driven," at its core it involves identifying known or potential hazards and analyzing what the risk from those hazards is or might be.  Since emergency management is collaborative it involves consensus building across broad sectors of government, industry and the public in the preparedness for and mitigation of risk and the response to and recovery from crises and disasters.  Several challenges for emergency management have been identified.  These challenges, along with limited examples of these challenges from various forums, include:

  • Communication and Communication Systems

-        Data Management

-        Education

  • Earth Observation Systems

-        Identifying Hazards: environmental or man-made

  • Community Resilience

-        The Ability to Respond and Recover

-        Outreach

  • Public/Private Partnerships

-        Logistics and Evacuations

Although public health systems have been in existence for a long time and are an integral part of emergency management, it is difficult to find a specific definition of these systems.  As was the case with emergency management these definitions range from the simple listing of attributes:

"The" local public health infrastructure includes the systems, competencies, frameworks, relationships, and resources that enable public health's core functions and essential services in every community. Infrastructure categories encompass human, organizational, informational, legal and policy, and fiscal resources.  (National Association of County & City Health Officials)

to the more complex statement of their nature:

The science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health and efficiency through organized community effort. (Winslow, 1920).

Challenges identified by the Committee on Research Priorities in Emergency Preparedness and Response for Public Health Systems, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies include:

  • Enhance the Usefulness of Training

-        Conduct research that creates best practices for the design and implementation of training (e.g. simulations, drills and exercises)

  • Improve Timely Emergency Communications

-        Conduct research that identifies and develops communications in relation to preparedness and response to effectively exchange vital and accurate information

  • Create and Maintain Sustainable Preparedness and Response Systems

-        Conduct research that identifies the factors that affect response to a crisis with public health consequences

  • Generate Effective Criteria and Metrics

-        Conduct research that generates criteria for evaluating public health emergency preparedness, response and recovery, and metrics for measuring their efficiency and effectiveness

Perhaps not surprisingly, communication and community are fundamental challenges that appear to reside both within and at the intersection of emergency management and public health systems.  Although curricula in public health have existed for a long time, such curricula in emergency management have only "recently" begun in universities and colleges throughout America and the world.  Although they have not garnered much attention -- yet, projects intended to address our fundamental challenges have begun and are making progress. 

  • For example, a project for the Veterans Health Administration Emergency Management Strategic Healthcare Group has generated a number of documents for the VHA Emergency Management Academy including a competency framework (including emergency response and recovery competencies) for key job groups in healthcare systems.  This work is reported in "The VHA-EMA Emergency Response & Recovery Competencies: Competency Survey, Analysis and Report." 
  • Another example is the collaborative project, "Increasing Efficacy of Emergency Departments through Systems Analysis of Enterprise Architecture."  This project has developed an over-arching framework for hospital emergency departments and is beginning to implement a model for use in simulating operations, including responses to disasters, within that framework. 
  • Another example is the collaborative project addressing issues in communicating the potential risk in impending disasters conducted by Georgetown University and George Mason University resulting in the article "Multicommunicating: A practice whose time has come?"

In addition, there is an abundance of research through Masters' and Doctoral programs including:

  • As the air traffic system continues to expand and evolve, one doctoral project seeks to evaluate the risk associated with commercial air traffic at uncontrolled airports.
  • As the role of the military in domestic disasters continues to evolve, another doctoral project seeks to improve communication between civilian emergency managers and the DoD.

In fact, there are many, many more projects than could be reported in a single, short paper.  These projects look at and evaluate our healthcare systems, our transportation systems, our communication systems and virtually all other types of systems.  However, research for the sake of research alone is not enough.  None of these projects alone are of value to emergency management or public health systems without real world practical application of their outcomes.  The question this paper raises is how the results of all this research can be focused and applied within and throughout our communication and community -- our real world. 

There are lessons we can learn from our history, from the operations of our organizations, from our prior responses and recovery from crises and disasters.  We have systems and models in place we can use to evaluate our fundamental challenges, communication and community -- if we move beyond the narrower view of a single investigator, a single incident, or even a single funding mechanism -- to the larger context of our community, country and world.  This paper suggests that to begin we must build not a clearing house for approval but rather a repository for knowledge.  Once we have gathered the knowledge available then we can begin to evaluate and apply it to meet the challenges we will all face in the future.

Emergency Management and Disaster Response in Public-Private Partnerships

(Reference Book to be Published by IGI Global 2011)

for more details contact mphamner@leatechllc.com



This reference on public-private partnerships in the field of emergency management intends to establish a foundation of the knowledge, relationships, and activities of such partnerships in the United States of America.  Typically a reader can find a variety of books and papers on public-private partnerships in emergency management in other countries and regions, guides for developing countries, etc.  This book is the first that comprehensively documents public-private partnerships in emergency management in the U.S.

Public-private partnerships are receiving increased scrutiny everywhere.  A simple Google search on the phrase "public private partnership" receives more than 13,800,000 hits (in 0.27 seconds).  In the U.S. the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is proactively working to establish public-private partnerships.  http://www.fema.gov/privatesector/ppp.shtm documents FEMA's efforts so far.  However, public-private partnerships in emergency management tend to be clustered around the response to specific disasters, specific training exercises, etc.  This book develops the notion that perpetuating these types of public-private partnerships, only ones that focus on single incidents, is in effect self-defeating.  Further, in the U.S. the distinction between business and government must remain clear, both capitalism and democratic values demand this.  This makes the nature of public-private partnerships in the U.S. different from virtually every other country in the world. 

Unfortunately, maintaining the status quo of today's public-private partnerships in the U.S. will continue to result in large dollars seemingly spent on unnecessary activities while responses to actual disasters are under-resourced.  This is not to say that government entities (federal, state and local) in the U.S. and U.S. companies should adopt public-private partnerships models from other countries.  Rather, this means that a new paradigm where the activities, their relationships and interfaces, are fully integrated into the ordinary, daily activities of the entities engaged in these partnerships.  This will not blur the distinction between public and private.  It will simply make the activities required for public-private partnerships "routine." 

This shift from keeping public-private partnership activities in emergency management separate from other daily, routine activities is necessary to make the "business case" for such activities.  For example, routine safety precautions required for preparedness reduce business insurance premiums, as do related training exercises for employees.  This is a well known but not well followed practice.  Chapters in this book deal directly with these issues. 

Beyond this, a new paradigm in the U.S. will have to continuously support and provide the ongoing flow of information and knowledge as well as good and services between public and private partners adding to the business case for public-private partnership activities.  Although a substantial effort was made in this regard post-9/11 including the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, to date this still has not been achieved.  Because emergency managers have to make do with the limited resources available to them under the most difficult situations this confluence of information, knowledge, goods and services must be achieved.  However, the increasing number and magnitude of disasters coupled with the changing landscape of disasters, natural and man-made, are making this an ever more onerous feat. 

With the global economic downturn, some fear that aspects of classical emergency management are eroding to the point of catastrophic failure.  Many believe that for emergency managers to continue to succeed public-private partnerships will be crucial.  This book puts together the most recent knowledge of and thoughts about public-private partnerships by experts in the field as well as theories and conundrums.  It discusses the ways public-private partnerships and all phases of emergency management can be fully integrated in order to build a foundation for understanding, supporting and continuing to develop public-private partnerships.    



Motivation for the proposed book is:

Emergency managers have always had to make do with the limited resources available to them under the most difficult situations.  The increasing number and magnitude of disasters coupled with the changing landscape of disasters, natural and man-made, are making this an ever more onerous feat.  With the global economic downturn, some fear that aspects of classical emergency management are eroding to the point of catastrophic failure.  Many believe that for emergency managers to continue to succeed public-private partnerships will be crucial.  This book puts together the most recent thoughts about public-private partnerships by experts in the field, and the best ways they can be integrated into all phases of emergency management in order to build a foundation for understanding public-private partnerships. 

The proposed outline is:

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Emergency Management Today

1.2 Lessons Learned from Past Incidents

2.0 Public-Private Partnerships

2.1 The Need for Public-Private Partnerships

2.2 The Nature of Public-Private Partnerships

2.3 Consortia of Businesses that Contribute to Disaster Response  

2.4 Evolution of Public-Private Partnerships

2.5 Lessons Learned from Previous Public-Private Partnerships

3.0 Managing Emergencies through Public-Private Partnerships

3.1 Managing Incidents through a Combined Response

3.2 Training to Maximize the Impact of Public-Private Partnerships in Disaster Response  

3.3 Why is Recovery So Difficult?

3.4 Building the Business Case for Emergency Management  

4.0 Future Challenges for Emergency Managers Involved in Public-Private Partnerships 

4.1 Economic Challenges

4.2 The "Changing Landscape of Disasters"

4.3 The Resiliency of Public-Private Partnerships