As a hurricane approaches, a leader must decide whether to issue an order to evacuate or to shelter in place. When creating active shooter plans, school officials must determine what information can and should be shared to mitigate the threat. To mitigate disaster, each community must consider the unique risks and threats that it faces. As emergency preparedness professionals age, they must engage youths to ensure future resilience. This edition of the DomPrep Journal highlights four key force multipliers for promoting public safety: information sharing, crisis leadership, situational awareness, and youth engagement.
The deadly Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on 14 February 2018 spurred much discussion on school safety. One topic within these discussions involves privacy and information sharing with regard to school safety. Since privacy laws can restrict which information can be shared, schools must learn how to balance privacy and school safety. Collaboration with leadership, students, parents, and the broader community is a necessary step.
Effective collaboration among all key stakeholders would reduce public resistance and media scrutiny when plans are being formulated or executed. Crisis leaders have little time to make highly consequential decisions, even when data to inform such decisions is lacking. This “doing more with less” approach is not an option, but a necessity. In any crisis, more information and more resources would certainly be helpful, but hesitation could be disastrous and life threatening.
In order to do more with less in a dynamic threat environment, there needs to be better situational awareness. This involves determining environmental elements, understanding the current situation, and foreseeing potential future scenarios. Situational awareness enables leaders to make critical decisions during a crisis – before all pertinent information is retrievable. In addition to crisis leaders and other emergency preparedness professionals, other community members offer valuable resources as well.
Communities can also do more with less when they leverage their underutilized resources. One such resource is youths. As many in the emergency preparedness and response fields retire, it is critical to replenish these resources in future generations. High school students today have many opportunities to engage in internships, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs, junior firefighter groups, and other preparedness and response organizations. Many would be willing to participate, but are just unaware of these possibilities.
By effectively sharing information, promoting confident crisis leadership, building situational awareness, and engaging youths, communities would be more prepared to face any potential threat. The key actions for emergency preparedness professionals to embrace are share, promote, build, and engage.
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.