At the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021, there was considerable discussion about the transition of presidential power. As leadership roles change in many federal, state, and local agencies across the United States, new policies and plans will be implemented that will affect how the nation as a whole and the numerous communities within it will plan for and respond to future disasters. The decisions that leaders make will have significant impacts on communities, but true change comes from groups within the community.
In the domestic preparedness community, these groups include emergency management, public health, law enforcement, fire service, emergency medical services, hospitals, volunteer organizations, private sector companies, public sector agencies, military, and so on. Collaboratively, the members of this community have the knowledge and experience to face whatever future catastrophes emerge. Unfortunately, divisions still exist and planning within siloes prevents the coordination and communication needed to build robust plans and procedures. Sometimes, when disasters emerge, those in executive political power fail to implement the years of preparedness plans, drills and exercises that were already developed.
Great strides have been made for multidiscipline, multi-jurisdictional approaches to disaster preparedness. No single group can manage a disaster on its own. For example, the violent acts at the U.S. Capitol required more than just a law enforcement response. The COVID pandemic requires more than just a public health response. Wildfires require more than just a firefighting response. Dynamic times require a new approach that can transition with ever-changing environments.
The 21st year of the 21st century presents a new opportunity to transform lessons learned into actionable plans for future incidents. The president as well as other political leaders play an important role, but the real knowledge base lies with operational professionals that continue to work toward a common goal of community resilience regardless the political forces. This year is a time to transition to a truly integrated, collaborative approach to disaster preparedness that will hold strong despite future transitions of power in leadership.
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.