Blog Archives

Preparedness sounds like momsense…

I can’t apologize for my pitiful puns.  Or won’t…maybe it’s won’t?

This month I’ll be joining other preparedness-minded moms in discussing some of the most important topics America’s PrepareAthon has to share.  While I was preparing my little section of slides (chatting about communication, surprise surprise!)  I really had to take a minute to wonder, what do other moms need to hear that makes them truly take a step in preparing their family?  Better yet, how can those steps be as feasible as possible?

If you work in preparedness and connect to the community at any point, I’m sure you’ve wondered this yourself.  Let me share with folks what doesn’t work.  Moms, dads, family members, feel free to chime in in the comments section.

This Doesn’t Work

  • Acronyms
  • Bestowing ALL of the information you know upon others
  • Anything where you mention a directive, presidential and otherwise
  • 10,000-foot-tall fear tactics
  • Information that requires training to understand

These things don’t work because they don’t matter to anyone outside of the field.  If you’re not in the preparedness business, all you need to know is what will keep you and your family safe, and the time and financial cost of it.  Nobody disagrees they’d like to be prepared during an emergency or disaster, but if we’re all going to live like “that will never happen here”, we have to know that preparing for it is worth the effort.

This Does Work

  • Reasons that what you’re saying is important
  • Free things
  • Easy things
  • Plans that also improve daily life
  • Simple, relatable language
  • Realistic examples
  • Understanding who you’re talking to

Some of us enjoy a family game night, movie night, standing dinner, Sunday drive. My family and I enjoy lots of those things, but we also enjoy family preparedness.  I know, it sounds like I made that up just so you’d listen to my blog and trust my opinion.  But hearing my kids process what they think is safe and smart, giving me their feedback on where our family meeting spot should be if we have a house fire, taking a few moments in the car during a bad storm to talk about sheltering, or teaching them a song that helps them remember my phone number – these are things that bring us really close together.  I continue to be amazed by the way they see the world and in turn, I don’t fear their safety the way I would if I sent them out in to it completely unprepared.

So fellow emergency management folks, let’s communicate with the community the way they need to hear it, not the way we want to say it.

Fellow moms (and family members, et al), bare with us while we share something that is desperately important to us, to help us all reach our goal of keeping our families safe.  After all, it takes a village…

If you’ll be joining me on this webinar, I’ll have 7-10 minutes of solid reasons why you need a communications plan, how to create one and how to make it successful.  Don’t wait!  Register for the webinar!



The leaders of our emergency world are at an interesting crossroads right now.  The more I become submersed into this fascinating and exciting career, the more I see just how different it is from any other.  And I’m not talking different based on just what we do.  I’m talking different based on the how and the who!

Emergency management is unlike many professions because the formal education and training for this field has really only excelled in the last 10 years or so.  Prior to that, our profession was dominated, and arguably still is, by people who really know their stuff because they DID their stuff.  And they did it for years.

Fast forward several years and you begin to see the rise of a younger generation of professionals who bring training, theory, and unique perspective to an exceptionally experienced table.

Well, this is a predicament… 

Why is this of any bloggable value?  Because I believe if we don’t acknowledge what is merging in our profession right now on all sides, we will miss the only opportunity in this field to combine the best of both worlds.

I absolutely love getting to know the “good ol’ boys” as they are sometimes referred to in my area.  The things they’ve seen and done, the experiences, they’re just invaluable!  Disasters are selective.  They choose when and where they’ll hit and we just sort of deal with it and try to sort through the response in an after action report.  The guys who have worked in first response their whole lives and become integrated (or “voluntold”) into emergency management are basically walking after action reports.  But instead of sifting through notes, I have the opportunity to ask questions and dig deeper.  And the return value for my time spent asking those questions is perfectly competitive with my time spent studying books, reading theory and completing training.

And it goes both ways.

Over the last several years, those of us who have been working towards higher education in emergency management have also had some chances to gain real-world experience.  At the same time, those with all of the experience have started participating in formalized training and furthering their own higher education.

Ah, a perfect melding pot…

So that leaves us to decide what to do with this meeting point.  In years to come, we will lose the vast amount of experience that saturates our current networks, and though we will have experiences of our own, it won’t replace or replicate what is already here.  Everyone who enters emergency management will likely have been formally trained as education makes candidates more competitive.  The profession may become less dominated by the fire chief of 20 years (a total generalization, I know) and captured by a rising generation.

What we have, RIGHT NOW, is the opportunity to marry the energy, excitement and education of the rising professionals with the knowledge, experience and oversight of the veterans.  The opportunity to learn from each other to pass along key lessons and strengthen the network, or hold animosity towards one another over which is more important: education or experience.

Tee-hee, cat memes.

It feels pretty special knowing your profession is at a pivotal moment where it is deciding what it will become.  I hate that it’s taken us so many disasters to get here, but I love recognizing big changes so I don’t forget to take advantage of them before it’s too late.