I   EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS           I   by Doug Hanchard and Eric RasmussenPrinciples of ResilienceAn Evolution inPrepare...
incorporated into a disaster response          sustaining responses, and that a careful     cation, and core public health...
intervals, power, light, radio waves, trans-portation, wireless clouds, staff, hierarchi-cal structures, and expectations....
It is not always possible for your staff                                                                                  ...
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An Evolution in Preparedness


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Public Safety Agencies require augmented support by Commercial services providers. How can it be done effectively?

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An Evolution in Preparedness

  1. 1. I EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS I by Doug Hanchard and Eric RasmussenPrinciples of ResilienceAn Evolution inPreparedness an exercise, they’ll be reasonably sure ofMany FrontLine readers are directly makes us more diligent – but there is an doing it during an actual event, a reflec-responsible for emergency preparedness evolution in disaster preparedness that tion of the military dictum “train as you’ll OFwithin their community, region, or may alter our methods for preparation, fight, then fight as you trained.”nation. We recognize that our prepara- perhaps enhancing our eventual effective- There are minor flaws in that supposi- ROtions for catastrophe are based on our ness in a real-world disaster. tion. It presumes that the entire team willeducation and research, our best thinking Exercises, usually the capstone event be present and functioning at peak; that Pabout specific areas, and how best to use in disaster preparedness, are frequently resources will flow as designed; that theour (always limited) resources. We also rigid, with pre-defined metrics and mile- real-world problem will look like theknow that, when chaos finally strikes, the stones to ensure that the team is covering exercise scenario you’ve chosen; and thatdrills and inventories and manuals that responsibilities in the “real-world.” The the non-actors in your exercise (thegave us a reasonable degree of confidence implication is that if the team can do X in media, your neighbors, your national gov-will prove inadequate in some fashion. ernment, local private industry, roads,We are aware that our populations may waterways, civilian communications,someday suffer in ways that, in retro- International cooperation, civilian food and water logistics, and thespect, might have been partially avoid- mandated “to learn” will weather, for example…) will also be non-able. This understanding of the challenges actors in a real event. There are nowwe face stimulates us in our tasks and allow us to be truly prepared. models for how several of these can be Strong Angel III demonstrated that using multi-media technology to collect and push information to the outside world improves the team’s capability to solve problems.13 I FrontLine Security I SPRING 2007 PHOTO: JOHN CROWLEY
  2. 2. incorporated into a disaster response sustaining responses, and that a careful cation, and core public health resourcedemonstration (quite different from an hybrid of policy-and-procedure, coupled management in a post-event reconstruc-exercise) in a manner that forces flexibil- with well-trained independence, is often tion. The third, in 2006, looked at com-ity, adaptability, and the co-development closer to ideal. munity resilience in the face of a naturalof resilience within both the responders disaster (including an epidemic), whereand the communities at risk. Comms, Lift, and Power all outside resources were lost for an extended period. Strong Angel III involvedPolicy and Procedures There are a few core issues during the roughly 800 participants from nine first phases of a disaster where most nations, including more than 70 nationalPolicies and procedures are a critical responders would expect shortfalls. For and international corporations, and sev-component of our disaster preparation, many of us, those would start with com- eral academic institutions.ensuring we’ve thought carefully about a munications, transportation logistics, and From that very large, week-longrange of possible eventualities and done electrical power. Without those three, effort, in an isolated and challenging envi-what we could, physically and procedu- comms, lift, and power, very little can be ronment (a cold, dark, hazardous buildingrally, to prepare for them. Those guide- effectively designed or implemented as a abandoned for fifteen years), came a setlines, however, rarely offer the flexibility disaster unfolds. “Layering” is a term of lessons and pragmatic tools that haveto simply adapt to what’s working in the sometimes used to define a process for altered disaster preparedness discussionsreal world when the event occurs. preparing as many methods for the deliv- at the highest levels of several govern- OF Acquisition methods are often slow, ery of each of these critical resources as ments, and are worth reviewing. ROand sometimes driven by a single individ- can be devised.ual’s familiarity with current research in • Collaborative Layering Pthe field – this can lead to missed oppor- Strong Angeltunities for making important connections On the list of early considerations is thewith new capabilities outside of our exer- Over the past seven years there have concept of layering (used in the samecise space. We all have regulatory and been three international disaster response sense as when the weather cannot quitemanagement structures, but we also need demonstrations called Strong Angel – and be predicted). It implies designing forto communicate frequently and effec- each Strong Angel has demonstrated the resilience and a graceful degradationtively with each other and with an consequences of shortfalls in comms, lift, mode, even when the most unexpectedaffected population. Today’s methods are and power. events occur.rapidly evolving, and bear serious review. The first, in 2000, was a displaced- For most of us, some sections of our In our view, policies and procedures population problem addressing civil- plans have assumptions that seem sooften restrict creativity-toward-success in military co-management in the field. The fundamental that we simply accept them,favor of a more centralized and hierarchical second, in 2004, was driven by problems but is that wise? At Strong Angel wesecurity. First responders acknowledge identified in Afghanistan and Iraq, and worked carefully to remove some ofthat such restrictions can impede life- looked at communications, cultural edu- those assumptions. We eliminated, at odd PHOTO: JOHN CROWLEY Daily briefings are key to the success of any exercise. We briefed three times a day during Strong Angel. SPRING 2007 I www.frontline-global.com I 14
  3. 3. intervals, power, light, radio waves, trans-portation, wireless clouds, staff, hierarchi-cal structures, and expectations. This intermittent and unpredictableloss of fundamental resources led to aresponsive and highly collaborative effort PHOTO: JOHN CROWLEYthat, in turn, led to some very creativesynthesis and a degree of success that sur-prised virtually every participant. It wasalso a superb team-building demonstra-tion – it led to very high morale and agenuine sense of earned self-confidence. Medical teams learned how to interoperate with other groups and technologies.We had, for example, Bell Canada andSprint Nextel sitting at the same tablewriting configurations together to make cols. In the scenario, the Commander • Redundant, Diverse, Resilient,their systems work seamlessly because knew nothing of the Incident Command and Open-sourceneither could meet a new and urgent task System and asked no organizational development questions of the assembled Questions asked by the Scene Com-independently and (in the scenario) lives OF team. He simply determined what he, a mander were both basic and complex.were at stake. The answers required rapid assessment of genuine expert in the circumstances but RO In any Strong Angel demonstration, critical information from many sources,failure is an occasional and accepted out- who knew nothing of the community, and collection, analysis, and reporting tool Pcome – though not encouraged. However, needed from the crowd. He then demanded those things to be accurately development soon took on a life of itsfailures become fewer and the creative own. The Scene Commander was veryinitiatives more admirable over time. It is determined on a scheduled basis – no matter how the information was derived clear about the accuracy and reportingimportant to note that the more often a requirements – the teams on the groundbroad-based team faces unexpected chal- as long as it was trustworthy and accurate to a sensible degree. The information was had specific guidance on what and when,lenges that push toward collaboration-across- then built into further requirements for but not how! They were left to their ownboundaries, the more readily they reach for assessment and action and the develop- devices for solving problems, using anyinteresting solutions. Each begins to look ment of a plan. That plan, in turn, was tools at hand.at other agencies, organizations, and implemented throughout a large geo- The teams soon realized that a work-interests as a common pool from which graphic area with only ad hoc communi- ing directory of who was doing what,to draw life-sustaining support when cations that yet needed close coordina- where and with what resources was aresource silos and stovepipes collapse. tion. Tough problems. critical component of effective and timely It became readily apparent to partici- work. A “Dynamic Directory” was born,• Leadership and several individuals were given pants that a system of flows was neededIn Strong Angel, the initial conditions were – information, decision, and action. Some responsibility for maintaining it – dedicat-set with no hierarchy and no one in rough starts over 24 hours led to the ing valuable staff resources in the middlecharge. Mid-way through the first day, development of a fairly complete Incident of an emergency because they determinedseveral hours into the response, a CDC Command System, on the current model. that capability was absolutely necessary.physician, coincidentally in the newly-iso- The reasons for such a system were clear The participants also found thatlated city for a conference, was appointed to the large number of non-Emergency proprietary tools were… unhelpful. ToolsScene Commander by the US President, Response participants and it seemed well- built on open-standards that interoperatecompletely bypassing all standard proto- designed for a domestic response. gracefully saved time and irritation dur- SPRING 2007 I www.frontline-global.com I 15
  4. 4. It is not always possible for your staff PHOTO: JOHN CROWLEY to avoid the media, despite perhaps care- ful instructions to do so, therefore, prepar- ing them for that interaction is a fair and sensible part of their training. We use a three-day course at Strong Angel, called the Media Crucible, and the role-playing there, under multiple scenarios and increasing pressures, has reportedly been most useful later for its participants in a number of real-world events. Resources Improve Strong Angel III started with roughly 50 disaster-response tasks to perform, and most were completed successfully. Some were simple, some complex, some trivial, Equipment has to operate and be and some impossible. Each was designed useable 7/24. Teams learn how to to meet a real-world problem experienced operate in extreme environments. by one of the eleven Executive Com- Temperatures here were regularly mittee members. Each proposed scenario over 30°Celsius. was evaluated on the likelihood that such a problem would re-appear again in theing a period of crisis, and our initial we needed to do was download the most future. If we agreed it would, we included OFchoices of software and radios provided recent version (at no charge) periodically. it as a task for which we’d pursue solu-reassuring evidence of a pre-conceived Social Interoperability Networking tions. In doing so, we found that the ad ROwillingness to cooperate with partners. (SIN) events, one term for such designed hoc resources available to an emergency P We also noted repeatedly that per- and metrics-based mashups of people and responder in 2007 are more useful thansonal, face-to-face communications saved technologies, like Strong Angel, are useful most realize, and the tools in the commu-time and improved efficiency. Personal for many tasks, not just disaster nity, both technical and social, are becom-relationships also help reduce the risk of responses. Capabilities like Skype (or ing paradoxically more sophisticated andsmall errors becoming inflated, distracting Groove, or Jot, or MySpace, or wikis, or simple all the time. Sissues. In our view, using every conceiv- blogs, or…) are most beneficial when usedable opportunity to meet, chat, share frequently. It’s sensible for any Emergency Strong Angel IV is in planning stages fora cup of coffee, work through practical Manager to ensure his staff has the tools 2008. Further information, and the resultsand strategic issues over dinners, and (and reasons) for frequently reaching out of the 50 or so demonstration tasks pursuedarranging tabletop exercises that gave to other responder agencies, offering in Strong Angel III, can all be found atgood reason for everyone to participate relevant assistance and keeping the multi- www.strongangel3.orgcollaboratively, all helped to cement a lateral flow of information smooth. Frequent communication over non- U.S. Navy Commander Dr. Eric Rasmussencoherently smooth emergency response. standard and ad hoc methods keeps is Chairman of the Department of Medicine We were careful to include all of the everyone aware that, when bad things at the U.S. Navy Medical Center outsideactors who might potentially affect those happen, policies and procedures should Seattle, Washington. He is also Directorin the field, not just EMS – power, water, be known and used where they fit, but of the Strong Angel series of humanitarianlight, schools, airport authorities, city there should be little hesitation in support demonstrations, and is currentlycouncils, vets, mosques, churches, syna- deployed to Afghanistan working on medical empowering far-forward personnel togogues and more were all on our invita- reconstruction. make independent judgments that get thetion list. job done intelligently. Doug Hanchard is Director and Architect, One tool proved exceptionally effec-tive. The use of internet-based chat and Solution Management Practice at BellVoice-over-IP (VoIP) through tools like Media Complications Canada. He was an Executive CommitteeSkype cost very little, are commonly used One frequently overlooked training member, Technical Communications Advisorby a very large number of people, are requirement in disaster response is media and civilian leader for United States Marinedependent only upon internet connectiv- management. There will be more media Corp MCI-West RSS unit at Strong Angelity of any kind, and can call any phone on and more politics than preferred – and the III. In addition he serves as Technicalthe planet. We also found that off-the- consequences of a poor interaction in Communications Advisor for World Wideshelf resources like Skype continually either can be disastrous, even if the actual Consortium for the Grid (www.w2cog.org)improve through market pressures and all response is performed reasonably and well. – U.S. Northcom. SPRING 2007 I www.frontline-global.com I 16