Monthly Archives: May 2013

Time to Get Engaged

If you’ve read my previous post, you know I’ve been thinking a lot about how I am going to engage my non-emergency minded colleagues and volunteers.  I’m always thinking about that because I know that if I can get everyone involved, resiliency skyrockets!

 

Engage!  Colleagues, that is.

This past week, I participated in facilitating a disaster behavioral health seminar and something occurred to me…they totally nailed the engagement concept!

It seems we spend a lot of time encouraging folks to take Incident Command System (ICS) courses, learn our FEMA ways, and give our jargon a special place in their hearts.  Now, I absolutely believe this is a necessity for responding to disaster.  Especially when we’re asking folks to become acclimated to a field they know nothing of and connect with on a basis of once to never.  It might seem foreign, but ICS is where it all starts!

There’s just one thing we forget to do sometimes.  To teach people where they fit in, why they fit there, and how to fulfill their specific role.

Does this go here?

At the seminar last week, they didn’t get lost in the weeds of leadership.  And what I mean is this – ICS tells us how to lead, what the overarching structure is and a broad overview of the ins and outs of organizing emergency response.  We have to know this, but we need to know more.  We need each block of that organizational chart to function independently and completely to make each branch, section and dotted line as efficient as possible.

Our speakers and our participants acknowledged the inner workings of ICS, but then did something wonderful with the information.  They recognized where they fall in the system and how they can fulfill the role they’d be given.  They focused on how to be consistent, work together, and make their branch of incident response as efficient, effective and generally as rad as possible.  Yeah, I said it.

It’s safe to say that most of our colleagues and volunteer members won’t have to lead during an emergency, so we have to meet people where they’re at when it comes to emergency information.

If I don’t make ICS applicable, if I don’t go that one step further and say, “You are here, and this is how you make your role successful so that others may be successful,” I am failing those I am asking to serve, and I’m failing those they will support.  And I really, really hate to fail.

You know how I feel, Twitter fail whale.

Not bringing the information to where people are at and giving them a reason to care and a way to be successful leaves us talking to an empty room.  And I don’t think that’s just in emergency management.

Tanya

For more information:

If you haven’t completed and Incident Command Systems courses, visit FEMA’s Independent Study website, and start with ICS 100 (b, most likely, but there are equivalents tailored to certain types of organizations).  Then give IS 700.a a go for an introduction to the National Incident Management System.  These are the basics to get you started!  If you love that, explore what other ICS courses FEMA has to offer, and in the meantime, locate your agency or local emergency manager and find out what your role might be and how to get ready for it.

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Try this: Disaster in Place!

There aren’t a lot of jobs that require everyone’s participation.  And not just everyone in a certain facility or agency, I mean everyone.  It’s tough sometimes!  I certainly find myself “silo-ing” people into their jobs.  I don’t know how to be engaged and I’ll never need to know how to be engaged.  I think in the emergency world we find a lot of the same thing.  We have jobs to do and whether people know we exist and what our jobs are, they expect they’ll be done and all will be well.

But it just takes more than that.

Working with professionals who have volunteered their time, I am now much more accustomed to adjusting to individuals who don’t think of emergency management on any type of regular basis.  It’s kept me from having tunnel-vision or becoming so immersed inside an emergency management world that I forget how to relate with the public.  (It’s also done wonders for this fast-talking acronym lover! To slooooow down, spell things out, give meaning to each word of our accurately/overly descript titles!)

I love jargon, don’t you?

Couldn’t have said it better, public health memes!

That being said, I know no matter how many disasters happen, and no matter what has actually impacted our area, encouraging people to think about disasters and preparedness on a realistic level is still a challenge.  This is true for community members, colleagues in all types of organizations, schools, and so on.  But I think I might have a solution that will help engage people using the best ally we have in preparedness: their minds!  ♫Dun dun dun!!♫♪

As an emergency management addict – yes, I’ll admit it – I live thinking about the “worst case scenario” every day.  Behind a truck with a radioactive symbol on the highway?  I’m planning.  Driving through gasoline storage tanks?  Planning.  Standing at the edge of the ocean?  Planning!  Random zombie apocalypse in Wal-Mart?  Oh, you know I’m planning.  I’m sorry, but no disaster scenario you throw me into is going to be as colorful as my “what if…

So I wonder, what will the public’s “what if’s” do for them?

This month, I will begin a new series with my awesome Medical Reserve Corps teams and leave it open for adaptation in any facility that would like to play off of it.  It’s called Disaster in Place and will be more than just a tool to raise “alert” response numbers (those availability responses I monitor when I send out events, tests, etc.)  For example, for the month of May, I have scheduled to send out alerts to all three of my units on Tuesday during standard business hours on an Active Shooter scenario.  However, the scenario won’t be mine to write.

It will begin with the explanation of Disaster in Place, the purpose and the instructions on how to successfully complete it.  (For those of you that may want to replicate this idea, what I’m more or less using is below.)  But I won’t leave my friends without some educational resources as well!  Months ago, after the Aurora, CO shooting, I encouraged my members to take FEMA’s IS 907 Active Shooter: What You Can Do and we had some interest.  But talking yourself through your own active shooting plan, right where you are at that very moment?  That may encourage a little more planning indeed.  I will also include a link previously shared on some of our Facebook sites, Houston’s popular RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. video on YouTube is a very clear, useful way to consider your choices in an active shooting incident.

The purpose is to leave our members feeling ready (and maybe even the people around them, if word spreads!).  Not to live in fear, but to live in preparedness.  To create strong, powerful communities where everyone is a part of my job and that’s what makes it successful.  Disaster in Place will have several elements I think are critical for success – giving our communities something they can think, something they can see, and something they can do.

Next month, we’ll give severe weather a shot one evening or on the weekend!  And once that catches on, I think letting people choose the time/place of that days drill will be appropriate and even more engaging.  Stay tuned and I’ll update how it goes, and if you decide to participate, please comment, or shoot me an email and let’s share some great ideas.

Tanya

Want to implement Disaster in Place in your organization?  Here’s a snapshot of what’s cooking in my MRC’s:

Purpose:  To engage non-emergency management related personnel at least once a month in their normal environments in order to increase awareness, personal preparedness and readiness.  (MRC specific purpose: to also increase our alert response and stay actively connected to our members.)

Introduction:  Our introduction looks a little something like this…

Good afternoon team,

This month we will begin our Disaster in Place series, designed to increase awareness, preparedness and response no matter what your environment today may be!  Please take five minutes to participate in the exercise, and respond to this alert with a “yes” or “no” that you have done so.  Please respond either way so we may track our alert response rate, even if you are not able to participate.

This month’s scenario is an Active Shooter event.  Please take two minutes to review your surroundings where you are right now.  What are your exits?  Where are your hiding spaces?  What resources, such as phones, windows, and other people are around you?  Now take three minutes and decide, what would you do if an active shooter were to advance towards your area?

For tips on what you can do in an event like this, please review the following 5:22 video: Run. Hide. Fight.

For additional FEMA training, please advance to the following course at your leisure and forward your certificate to your coordinator, if you choose to participate.

Thank you for all that you do!

Goal:  To require as little time as possible in order to encourage participation – professionals are busy!  But in the end, you make time for what you care about, and I believe our members will do just that.  We’re asking for a five minute interlude in their day, we’re offering several more minutes of optional training, with an unlimited potential community value.