Why Was the U.S. So Unprepared for COVID-19?

From the HuffPost: America Is Not Set Up For This. Experts have been predicting a global flu pandemic for years. So why was the U.S. so unprepared for coronavirus?

For more on the topic of the vulnerabilities of the national emergency management systems, see the recent book by Rubin and Cutter noted here a few months ago. It was reviewed here by Don Watson in January.

“Building Cultures of Preparedness”

New report released by FEMA’s Higher Ed Program: Building Cultures of Preparedness (40 pp.); Jan. 2019.

The Diva thinks this is an unusually well written and thoughtful report on a topic that may be new for many. She highly recommends it.

The first goal of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) 2018-2022 Strategic Plan is to Build a Culture of Preparedness. Preparedness strategies to date have increased first responder and government capabilities, but individual and community progress towards enhanced levels of preparedness have been limited. Achieving the 2018-2022 Strategic Plan’s vision of enhanced preparedness requires a bottom-up approach to close these gaps.

This report highlights the vast diversity of American communities and households, indicating that a one-size-fits-all strategy is not well-suited to the specific demands of variable and distinctive environments – our Culture of Preparedness will have to be built one community at a time. Preparedness is a local matter, requiring solutions tailored to different cultural contexts and embraced by communities. Supporting the vision of a resilient nation in the Strategic Plan requires us to think in the plural, in terms of building ‘Culture(s) of Preparedness’.

This report presents a culture-based approach to the preparedness goals laid out in the Strategic Plan. It lays out four Guiding Principles for building Cultures of Preparedness, followed by practical strategies and examples that demonstrate successful outcomes in real-world settings:

Trust – Develop trust by understanding the culture, context, and history of communities outside of disaster, as well as when an event occurs.

Inclusion – Bring the cultural perspectives of all stakeholders to the table

Cross-cultural communication – Design communication efforts as cross-cultural encounters.

Support local practices and successes – Learn about the ways people are already prepared and enhance these efforts using culturally-aware strategies.





2018 National Preparedness Report

From the Homeland Security Digital Library: FEMA National Preparedness Report 2018. The report is 62 pages.

 The National Preparedness Report is a requirement of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act and a key element of the National Preparedness System. This annual report evaluates progress and challenges that individuals and communities, private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations, and all levels of government have faced in preparedness. The report offers all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and the public practical insights into preparedness to support decisions about program priorities, resource allocation, and community actions.

“FEMA’s Strategic Plan Commits a Strategic Error” – from the NDRC

Following on the theme of why we are not making progress in the disaster preparedness field. See this article from the Natural Resources Defense Council: FEMA’s Disaster Preparedness Plan Is a Disaster for the U.S. An excerpt follows:

FEMA’s Strategic Plan Commits a Strategic Error

FEMA’s failure to acknowledge the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise and more extreme weather, is an omission that completely undercuts the goals of the strategic plan. In the document, FEMA outlines plans for building preparedness and readying the nation for catastrophic disasters. For example, FEMA did indicate it wants to invest in more “pre-disaster mitigation, and encourage actors at all levels to better reduce their risks. These are laudable goals. However, FEMA, under a section about “Emerging Threats,” only cites cybersecurity and terrorism, making no mention of climate change and its associated impacts. Such an omission renders any aspirations to increase disaster preparedness meaningless. This glaring omission by FEMA sets the nation up to continue to spend billions of dollars on disaster recovery without every addressing the a contributing factor of the problem.

Disaster Preparedness

The NYTimes featured an article today titled How to Prepare Your Community for a Disaster. This article focuses on personal and community preparedness. Generally the advice is good although many of the steps and info sources listed can readily be found as part of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training and manual. That source is not noted until the list of references at the end of the article.

Mitch Stripling has also written a useful handbook for emergency management practitioners: Managing Chaos.

Top Tier Obama Scientists Organize to Push Back on Proposed Cuts

From the Washington Post: Obama’s science diaspora prepares for a fight

Science, more than many fields, feeds on a collaborative spirit. Former staffers from President Barack Obama’s science office have taken this to heart: They are fanning out, finding jobs in academia, at nonprofits and elsewhere, but they continue to work together, largely behind the scenes. This science diaspora, as one former staffer called it, is ready to both push forward on the ambitious science-related agendas of the previous administration, and to defend against the attacks on science emanating from the new White House.