2012 FEMA Region IX Public / Private Sector Leadership Conference – Los Angeles

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Marisol Shankar gives us her analysis on her recent attendance at the 2012 FEMA Region IX Public / Private Sector Leadership Conference in Los Angeles
Marisol K. Shankar, ABCP, AMBCI – MHP, Inc. Structural Engineers, Firestorm® MHP

2012 FEMA Region IX Public / Private Sector Leadership Conference

FEMA and existing Public/Private Partnership organizations encourage stakeholders to reach out and meet people; to seek out and develop the relationships with organizations that can support your efforts (as well as help your organization) after a crisis.

These relationships can and should be sought out well in advance of the crisis (to the left of BANG so to speak), so that as you coordinate processes, understand how to communicate, and develop mutually supporting processes, organizations can widen the resource pool available.

Understanding what resources are available from the federal (FEMA) level down through the local level (cities and private sector) allows coordination (as noted during the conference) through a “Network of Networks” which facilitates a bidirectional information flow.

This information allows private organizations to make better safety and continuity decisions, understanding the framework within which they will be recovering, and perform joint exercises which may identify gaps that can be remediated – again – to the left of BANG.

Furthering the partnerships through formalized Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) benefits all stakeholders by ensuring that coordination of resources and common communication channels are used.

As an example, the Los Angeles Emergency Management Department‘s focus is “Advanced Recovery” – thinking through what is needed in advance of a crisis (e.g. debris removal plans for morale).  The process begins in advance by building relationships, further developing that relationship into a partnership, and establishing Memorandums of Understanding between interested parties.

CalEMA partnership initiatives now include MOU partners and designated seats within the state EOC for a BOC and UOC (Business and utilities Operations Center). These BOC/UOC seats provide a venue for sector representation at the Management level within the ICS/NIMS structure (see State MOU template).

Ultimately, FEMA and public agencies in every jurisdiction will do everything in their power and ability to assist with disaster response and recovery.

All organizations, stakeholders, and individuals bear the responsibility for preparedness. Coordinating efforts with and within FEMA and public agency frameworks enables organizations to align their expectations of response from their city, state, county, and federal agencies. Aligning expectations with reality (expected response) empowers individuals and organizations to seek and develop partnerships to ensure resiliency at every level.

My main takeaways of recurring themes:

  • Build relationships before disaster strikes – relationship > partnership > formal MOU
  • FEMA’s priorities were explicitly expressed – the federal government cannot and should not take on the task of preparing communities/cities/counties/states – their focus is on providing the framework for the preparation and engaging the private sector (emergency managers and other existing partnerships) to be aggressive in readiness and resiliency.
  • We are getting there, need to continue furthering existing efforts.

At Firestorm®, we know our leadership supports this approach before, during, and after a crisis. Firestorm’s expertise is crisis management, critical decision support, crisis communications, crisis public relations, and consequence management. Firestorm empowers people to manage risk and crises.  Please call us – we can help.

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