WFTND Blog Information

An emergency manager trying to make a difference.

The name of the blog comes from a conversation with my daughter, where she told me that I was always looking to help people be prepared for the inevitable emergencies in life.

I started this blog as a place to assemble all the information that I was getting every day and to share my thoughts and ideas on emergency management.

I had no idea how much of the blog would wind up being what's in the news. While it does not take a lot to add a blog entry, I just did not realize how much of my day was involved with simply keeping up with what's going on. All of the posts, whether what's in the news or comments or just a piece of information, have a purpose; to get us thinking, to get us talking, and to make things better - in other words, to make a difference.

Hopefully this blog will save you some time and energy, or help you in some other way. If you would like to see something, please let me know.

Posting an article does not imply that I agree with the comments in the article. In fact, in many case, I do not agree, but feel that the comments should be part of the discussion. All opinions are welcome. I only ask that you remain considerate and professional of other opinions.


Favorite Quotes for the Emergency Manager

  • “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • “Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • “Failing to plan is planning to fail”
  • “Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.” Denis Waitley
  • "Station 51, KMG365."
  • “One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” Arnold H. Glasgow
  • “An ostrich with its head in the sand is just as blind to opportunity as to disaster”
  • “The powers in charge keep us in a perpetual state of fear keep us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant sums demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.” Douglas MacArthur
  • “My ideas have undergone a process of emergence by emergency. When they are needed badly enough, they are accepted.” Buckminster Fuller
  • “Bad planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”
  • "If you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs and blaming it on you, ..." Rudyard Kipling
  • "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." Aldous Huxley

Friday, March 27, 2009

Emergency Management Around the World: On Common Ground

A couple of years back I was offered a contingent contract to work on the emergency management program for a foreign country. It was to be a major upgrade to the existing system, bringing the country in line with the applicable emergency management standards. While the contractor that was to hire me did not get the contract for the project, as part of my due diligence, I did a fair amount of research into emergency management around the world, so I could avoid the tendency to see things in an American ethnocentric perspective.

What I found was both enlightening and encouraging from an overall emergency management profession perspective. I found that, in fact, my American point of view of emergency management was not that far from many other countries. The stories that are found on my blog “Waiting for the Next Disaster” and on other websites and listserves show evidence that this perspective continues to expand and grow. An example is the daily report “Around the World Today” authored by Arthur Rabjohn, CEM, R3 Manager-Europe & Africa at WorleyParsons LLC, as well as International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Europa President and IAEM Chairman of the Board. Reading the report reveals similar problems and challenges from all corners of the globe, from emergency response to program management.

It is especially interesting to note that when countries around the world have taken the initiative to improve their own emergency management capabilities, they move even closer to that perspective. The point of view, as it turns out, is not American, but global. The 9/11 from emergency management as the overall coordination and facilitation body to a primarily security focus was not only evident in the United States, but in many other countries around the world. I believe that the USA is finally in a state of change which will move us back to the viewpoint that “homeland security” is a part of emergency management, not the other way around. I see the same thing happening in many other countries, especially those with major natural disaster considerations. The “all hazards” approach is the way to go.

An example of the emergence of the all-hazards approach is in Indonesia. As reported in the Jakarta Post, the capital city of the province of Bali has created the Denpasar Disaster Management Agency. The Agency “has already tackled six disasters since it was established in December 2008, ranging from contagious diseases to floods and fires.” The article continues “The agency, the only one of its kind in the province, is responsible for all pre-disaster, disaster and post-disaster activities. The agency coordinates during pre-disaster and post-disaster periods while assuming full command of city resources when a disaster strikes.”

An example of the similar global perspective is the United Kingdom. The “Management and Co-ordination of Local Operations” system uses the Bronze/Operational (immediate "hands-on"), Silver/Tactical (ensure that the actions taken by bronze are coordinated), and Gold/Strategic (multi-agency management) levels. While differing in terminology, the basic principles are the same as the US ICS system. The UK Resilience website ( would be familiar territory to any American emergency manager.

The terminology differences are important to consider. After all, one of the principles of NIMS/ICS is consistent, standard terminology. However, it is enough of a challenge to come up with one standard in the US. While we are moving toward that goal, there are still issues of how NFPA 1600, ISO and EMAP interface, what is public and what is private, certification vs. accreditation, etc. It would be a monumental challenge to try to come up with an international standard.

Yet, that is in fact what many are working on around the globe, and should be at least a target on our radar. Damon P. Coppola, MEM, author of Introduction to International Disaster Management, argues in his paper “The Importance of International Disaster Management Studies in the Field of Emergency Management” that “there are a great number of highly successful emergency management systems found in the many industrialized nations of the world, and a handful in the developing world, that we stand to learn from considerably. Their lessons become our lessons only when we pay attention.” He cites The Netherlands, Japan, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and India as examples.

We need to continue to strive to improve emergency management programs around the world, and to continue to promote emergency management as a profession. We also need to continue to talk to each other around the world. The more we talk, the more we find how much we have in common, the more we can help each other and the profession, and ultimately, the more we can help the people that we are entrusted to protect.

Arthur Rabjohn, CEM can be reached at

Damon P. Coppola, MEM, can be reached at

The author can be reached at his blog “Waiting For the Next Disaster” at and presenting “Situation Assessment: The Elusive Common Operating Picture” at CPM 2009 West.

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