Assessing and Measuring Preparedness

The Diva got a note from a reader, Terry Hastings, and a citation to a recent article he co-authored. She welcomes the chance to share the citation.

Terry wrote “I am a big fan of your blog and thought your readers may be interested in an article recently published by the Domestic Preparedness Journal. It is based on research my project team conducted as part of the EMI Emergency Management Executive Academy.” See: The Ongoing Quest to Assess & Measure Preparedness.  An excerpt follows:

Despite the advent of the national preparedness system and associated assessment efforts, the emergency management community is still challenged to measure and articulate local, state, and national preparedness. One of the biggest challenges to measuring preparedness stems from the fact that preparedness means different things to different people. Additionally, how communities and organizations prepare greatly depends on what they are preparing for. Following is an examination of the ongoing quest to assess and measure preparedness with the goal of identifying good practices, ideas, and recommendations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other whole community stakeholders – including public sector, private sector, and nonprofit organizations – to consider.

4 thoughts on “Assessing and Measuring Preparedness

  1. Interesting topic for your research project. Since most of my EM experience is at the local level, my comments will be from that perspective. While federal and state emergency management agencies (along with major urban areas) must use a formal approach for assessment as described in the numerous documents mentioned in your study, a less formal approach can be utilized for local governments who have limited resources. Listed below, in no particular order of importance, are tools that can be used by local communities in determining the preparedness effectiveness of their emergency management programs.

    1. One of the most successful federal government programs in existence is the Community Rating System (CRS) program which is part of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. This comphensive program provides financial incentives to flood insurance policy holders (through premium discounts) if their community engages in beneficial flood mitigation and emergency management practices. This program includes many assessment tools to measure the community’s performance related to flood preparedness and emergency management functions. Also, the program does an effective job with leveraging poltical dynamics as you do not want to be an elected official in town that does not participate in the CRS Program while a neighboring community does and as a result offers financial savings for their residents in their community.

    2. Another federal program that furnishes an assessment of certain elements of emergency management is the Storm Ready program of the National Weather Service. While not nearly as comprehensive as the CRS program, it nevertheless provides a tool to measure preparedness needed to properly handle emergency situations. Both CRS and Storm Ready programs provide opportunities for positive press.

    3. At times, the most important measure of the effectiveness of a community’s emergency management program is provided by the residents of your community. If the community is well prepared for crisis, most likely the situation will be well managed and the residents will be pleased with the town’s performance. If the community is not prepared, the residents will not be bashful to express their displeasure. Many elected officials were voted out of office as a result of an inadequate response to emergency conditions. A brutal but yet effective means of assessing preparation and measuring performance.

    Hopefully these comments will provide some insight into how a local government would evaluate the effectiveness of their overall emergency management preparedness. Agree that additional study needs to be done in this area.

    • Great points, thank you very much for the feedback. Your point about elected leaders being held accountable for a community’s lack of preparedness is very interesting.

      • Happy that my comments were helpful.

        Local government is by far the most accountable level of government and as a result, performace counts! As an elected official if you are unable to help your residents during a time of need, those resident will express thier displeasure through the ballot box. With the exception of some development projects, lack of an adequate response during storm conditions brings the largest (and loudest) public outcry. In today’s social media age, bad news or a bad job responding to an emergency spreads quickly so it is essential for local governments to be prepared for emergency situations.

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