Threats, hazards, and risks change over time as numerous variables change. This means preparedness professionals must be forward-thinking when planning for emergencies and disasters. Past events can teach valuable lessons for the future, and sometimes those lessons include adapting old plans to meet new or emerging challenges. The authors in this April edition of the Domestic Preparedness Journal share scenarios where communities will be better prepared by updating their plans and strategies to address growing national concerns.
Passing knowledge and training to the next generation to develop critical thinking and life-saving strategies are great ways to promote continuity of effort in fields that require growth and adaptability to meet future uncertainties. Multigenerational interactions also can offer new perspectives on old or recurring issues. When planning for emergencies and disasters, collaboration is critical.
Once communities identify potential local hazards like rail incidents involving hazardous materials, they can equip themselves with the tools, resources, and training that may not be in their current plans. Understanding how and when military assets can assist in civilian emergency response efforts is essential. Even hazards that are generally considered contained, such as biosafety laboratories, can experience failures. Just because an incident has not occurred yet, does not mean it will not happen. Plans must include current risk assessments that are routinely updated to include new risks or hazards.
Incidents that can occur anywhere – like school shootings and labor trafficking – require all community stakeholders to have additional education and situational awareness to mitigate threats and save innocent lives. When effectively executed, community outreach efforts can reduce risks and hazards and promote preparedness. However, even community outreach efforts must adapt to the changing demographics and evolving needs of the people within the area.
As the moon obscures the sun and diminishes daylight during a solar eclipse, time seems to stand still as people stop and stare (hopefully with the proper eye protection). Like the other scenarios described in this issue, even a solar eclipse event requires new plans to avoid making previous preparedness mistakes. Regardless of the incident, do not stare so long at the old rigid plans that they prevent future evolving preparedness needs.
Catherine L. Feinman
Catherine L. Feinman, M.A., joined Domestic Preparedness in January 2010. She has more than 30 years of publishing experience and currently serves as editor of the Domestic Preparedness Journal, DomesticPreparedness.com, and the DPJ Weekly Brief, and works with writers and other contributors to build and create new content that is relevant to the emergency preparedness, response, and recovery communities. She received a bachelor’s degree in international business from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree in emergency and disaster management from American Military University.