I was fortunate to attend the recent IAEM Conference held in Texas. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate on November 2, 2010, encouraged emergency managers and stakeholders from the private sector, public health and other fields to consider the capabilities and needs of the entire community, including people with disabilities and children, when planning for disasters.
Fugate delivered this message as part of his keynote address at the 58th Annual International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Conference in San Antonio, Texas. He made a number of interesting comments to the professional emergency managers in attendance. A common theme of his remarks was that “Emergency Management is not about easy.” Emergency Management is also not for the faint hearted he said. He felt emergency planning needs to be done in a new way— in a way that better serves the citizens, and he committed to changing FEMA planning documents to be inclusive of children, infants, elderly, pet owners, and those without transportation. He asked all emergency managers to answer the question: “Who are you planning for in your community?”
During his remarks, Fugate also urged the audience to participate in a new public challenge FEMA is hosting to come up with creative ideas on how we can prepare communities before disaster strikes. “Considering the needs of all members of our community and planning for worst case scenarios is exactly why we need a strong emergency management team – a team that FEMA is only one member of,” said Fugate. “We know government can’t do it alone – many of the most innovative ideas for how we can protect all members of our community from the impacts of disasters will come from you. That’s why we are engaging the entire team in this effort to crowd source solutions by submitting creative ideas to http://challenge.gov/fema.”
In addition, Fugate discussed the need for all stakeholders to prepare for worst case scenarios, what he calls “Maximum of Maximums” – disasters that go beyond the capability of government resources. Under Fugate’s leadership, FEMA has focused on engaging a diverse group of stakeholders in these efforts. In September, FEMA hosted the first-ever National “Getting Real” Conference, which brought together leaders from the emergency management and disability communities to discuss strategies to integrate the entire community into emergency planning. FEMA also recently hosted its first-ever Latino Leadership Summit and Black Leadership Forum, which engaged stakeholders in discussions about how to better involve the entire community in emergency planning.
Fugate launched FEMA’s new public challenge last week at a separate conference in San Diego, Calif. The IAEM Annual Conference provides a forum to share information about the latest trends, tools and technology in emergency management and homeland security. Sessions encourage stakeholders at all levels of government, the private sector, public health and related professions to exchange ideas on collaborating to protect lives and property from disasters.