Emergency management (EM) and disaster response (DR) principles taught us to conduct a [link url=”https://www.fema.gov/hazard-identification-and-risk-assessment” title=”hazard analysis”] of our community, focus on probable threats that would cause the most disruption to the community, and plan, train, and respond to these hazards.
This philosophy allows the biggest bang for the buck. In today’s EM and DR, we strive to plan, train, and respond to almost every type of event, as the public has an expectation that first responders and emergency management officials will fix every problem, regardless of nature.
A look at data
When conducting some [link url=”https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/media_resources/stats.jsp” title=”research”], we note that floods have a high occurrence of incident in nearly every part of the county, in fact, flood events make up nearly half of the disasters worldwide.
When we look at mass shooting events, this type of event does not statistically happen frequently in most municipalities. However, if the police or fire department do not respond to a mass shooting in a way deemed correct by experts or the media, they are crucified.
Preparing for every type of event
What will we do to allow us to prepare for every type of event?
[link url=”http://www.npr.org/2016/07/09/485388430/looking-at-how-police-are-trained” title=”Recent news articles”] show that police officers have very little requirements for refresher training once their initial certification is obtained. Although many fire departments exceeded minimum standards for training, many states have no recertification hours and many have numbers as small as 18 hours a year. Often the public perception is that if the police are not patrolling the neighborhoods and the fire department is not making calls, they are not doing their job.
As organizations prepare for the latest type of event, they are faced with the challenge of how to prepare their organization. Many times classes for these new types of events are covered under state and [link url=”https://www.dhs.gov/active-shooter-preparedness” title=”federal grants”], but the salaries to attend or to fill the vacancy created by attending are not covered.
Costs of new equipment are covered under grants, but not the maintenance or upgrades as time passes. The local community must bear the brunt of the costs. This in conjunction with many citizens feeling they are taxed too much.
While I am a fan of collaboration and shared resources, the public expects the first fire truck or the first police car arriving to begin solving the problem at hand. Many of the active shooter events would be over if we were to await a shared resource. For longer events, where does the shared personnel come from?
Researchers, educators, practitioners, and politicians must all work in conjunction to ensure that we have the latest information that allows us to build training and education courses to properly and safely respond to the latest types of disasters, all while ensuring that a balance of the financial burden is shared among interested parties.
After all, we will be called to the event; we should give our nation’s first responders the ability to be the best they can in a time of need.