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Leadership Collaboration in Emergency Management

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This week, the people of the United States elected a new president: Donald J. Trump. It is an exciting time as the United States moves into a new era. Elections always evoke an amazing amount of emotions as the country launches into a period of uncertainty – while the new administration with new personnel begins to take shape.

The restructuring of a presidential administration actually takes shape relatively quickly. Many policies remain the same, while policies may change slightly with the new administration. In the midst of these major shifts, emergency management needs certain leadership characteristics in those that will help manage emergency management at the local, state and federal levels of government.

Leadership collaboration is at the forefront of emergency management needs.

Incident Command System

Most Emergency Management professionals have heard about the [link url=https://www.fema.gov/incident-command-system-resources” title=”Incident Command System”] (ICS) at some point in their career. The Incident Command System is a managerial structure that allows for emergency managers to effectively add or take away the resources and personnel to handle any situation under any circumstances.

The system is relatively complicated, but it is also particularly easy for many emergency professionals to understand and fall into. Thus, the concept of it is ideal for any emergency situation.

Further, emergency managers throughout the country use it making the system versatile at all levels of emergency management. The ICS requires that emergency managers be flexible, and collaborate with individuals from other departments to get the resources and manpower they need.

Collaboration is Needed

While the departments throughout the country will have certain policies to abide by, and the Incident Command System will provide the overall structure for how to effectively manage emergencies in the federal government, certain leadership skills are essential to the overall effective management of emergencies.

William Waugh wrote in his [link url=”http://faculty.maxwell.syr.edu/rdenever/NatlSecurity2008_docs/Waugh_CollaborationLeadership.pdf” title=”2006 article”]: ‘Collaboration is a necessary foundation for dealing with both natural and technological hazards and disasters and the consequences of terrorism.’

Waugh’s statement sums up the necessity of departmental and managerial collaboration as indicated by the ICS. Further, because of the way the federal government is designed, collaboration across departments is an essential component to managing large scale disasters.

Managerial Collaboration is Essential

Perhaps one of the most important leadership characteristics is that of [link url=”http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/leadership/leadership-ideas/collaborative-leadership/main” title=”collaboration”].

A good leader knows how to bring people together to collaborate on a variety of issues. It aids tremendously in the decision-making process. As Waugh writes, it allows for the collaboration of resources in a time of need. Good emergency managers know how to collaborate with their staff through the Incident Command System, but also know how to obtain resources from many other locations when they’re in dire straits.

Further, this is a skill that many emergency management educational programs teach – especially considering that emergency management needs to remain flexible since no two disasters are actually the same.  Thus, collaboration is an important aspect of emergency management for pulling multiple departments together.

Allison G. S. Knox teaches in the fire science and emergency management departments at American Military University and American Public University. Focusing on emergency management and emergency medical services policy, she often writes and advocates about these issues. Allison serves as the At-Large Director of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, Secretary & Chair of the TEMS Committee with the International Public Safety Association and as Chancellor of the Southeast Region on the Board of Trustees with Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in Social Sciences. Prior to teaching, she worked for a Member of Congress in Washington, D.C. and in a Level One trauma center emergency department. Passionate about the policy issues surrounding emergency management and emergency medical services, Allison often researches, writes and advocates about these issues. Allison is an emergency medical technician and holds four master’s degrees.

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