Evil

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good people to do nothing.

Edmund Burke (paraphrased)

Evil intentions, evil thoughts, evil actions: when it comes to threats and hazards, acts of evil have a special place on our collective lists of bad things. Some of us may think we can focus solely on what we believe are evildoers, and then end up with reduced capabilities and capacity for those natural and human-made hazards which become significant threats, nonetheless. Others will disregard the possibility of evil actions or intent, which has significant downsides as well. Lack of planning for what is considered consequence management possibilities, is a bad path to be on. Why do bad people do bad things (threats which become hazards)? In most cases it boils down to one of four reasons, covered in an acronym called M.I.C.E.  – Money, Ideology, Coercion, and Ego.

None of these cover a possible worst-case scenario, which is evil. People who are evil want to hurt or destroy beyond any reasons we can think of. What we all can do to be ready for something evil – that is to be better prepared before, during, and after any incident – no one is ever fully prepared for every threat and hazard, this is always an area everyone can improve on. Be more ready for that “what if” it was the worst of the worst.

The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.

– William Shakespeare


1599 Antony. Julius Caesar, act 3, sc.2, l.74-86.

And sometimes the solutions to the “good versus evil” problems facing our world, also help against the adverse impacts of plain old accidents or even natural disasters. Let’s take the simple act of walking in the park: protecting the pedestrians from vehicles nearby helps just as much from someone having a medical emergency and not hitting the brakes, as it does from the terrorist hellbent on mowing down everyone they can get.  

Whether you are preparing your family, your community, your state/territory/sovereign tribal nation, or even country: consider the possibility that evil might be the “why” behind any threat or hazard. This should make you alter and update your emergency plans, organizational staffing, equipment to be used, training and exercising of those elements. In Emergency Management we call this collection of elements POETE and use that process to make our problem-solving efforts and capacity-building more effective and efficient. Acts of terrorism may certainly qualify as evil, and the U.S. government spends quite a bit of effort to prevent these acts and protect all of us from their adverse impacts. And the feds have shared their guidance tools for this complete process in their Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 201, Third Edition. That guide utilizes the POETE process quite extensively.

The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.

J. K. Rowling

Every disaster starts and ends locally – even the evil ones. Take the time now to look at your emergency plans, your list of threats and hazards, etc. and consider how they could be impacted by evil.

This is part of the involuntary bargain we make with the world just by being alive. We get to experience the splendor of nature, the beauty of art, the balm of love and the sheer joy of existence, always with the knowledge that illness, injury, natural disaster, or pure evil can end it in an instant for ourselves or someone we love.

Jeff Greenfield 
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Emergency Action Plans – the basics

The rock band “The Clash” have a song entitled “Should I Stay or Should I Go” – which is about a relationship between two people. It’s also a quick summary of Emergency Action Planning – should you shelter-in-place or evacuate?

The emergency management answer to this question is “Depends on what the emergency is” – and its possible the answer may be different over time, distance and shielding from the hazard. That means if you are in a house that’s on fire, it’s best to evacuate no doubt, but if it’s a 30-story office building, it might depend on where the fire is, as to what you do next. And it can get more complicated as time and distance from the hazard changes. If you view all hazards like this, you can make the best decisions for your own life safety and help others, too. The priorities should always be in this order: life safety, incident stabilization, and then property/asset protection. If your house is on fire, the fire department will work to rescue you and your pets first, then make sure the fire does not spread to other homes. You will probably notice they are not concerned with getting water on your big screen tv.   

Here are the basics we see for the public actions of emergency action planning: Sheltering-In-Place, Evacuation, and Active Assailant (which may combine both depending on time, distance and shielding). And our basic emergency action plan template covers all three, from an all-hazards perspective. Everyone should organize, equip, train, and exercise themselves to all three actions, they are responsible for themselves.

Sheltering-In-Place

Sheltering-In-Place means staying where you are and not evacuating. And the “you” we describe in this post can mean you and your family, you and your co-workers, you and your pets, you and your personal care assistant, etc. You be you – and please take into consideration all the unique aspects of you we may forget to mention specifically. Sheltering-In-Place could mean you moving to a safer room in the building or a safer location in the complex or on the campus – but generally this an easier decision where and when to go, when there is existing Planning, Organization, Equipment, Training, and Exercising associated with this action. We call that a POETE process. Planning means having a plan as to where you would go, knowing what you would need there for an extended stay perhaps, and how you would communicate with others if circumstances of the emergency change (for the better or worse). Organization means knowing who is doing what – who may be needed to help you shelter-in-place and then get you back to “normal”. Equipment, as mentioned before is the stuff you need to shelter-in-place. We call it a “Stay Box”. This can hold everything from food/pet food, medicine, battery-powered cell charger, flashlight, water, change of clothes, sleeping bag, whatever. And this is stuff you need to have everywhere you might shelter-in-place, not just at home. So you will need multiple stay boxes. Training is the process of reviewing the plan, asking questions, taking classes, and attending seminars on personal preparedness (the American Red Cross has these for free, so does FEMA) and asking questions of your leadership at work about emergency preparedness and response. And finally Exercising is the practice, practice, practice that everyone needs to do for emergency action planning. Practice your plan, practice using your equipment, practice with others, and practice some “what ifs” from your training.

Evacuation

Evacuation means leaving where you and not sheltering-in-place. It could mean evacuating the entire building, complex, or campus – or just evacuating to a safer place. For that high-rise building fire, residents on the upper floors may evacuate to a different floor which has more fire protection and/or access to a fire stairwell, for example. Residents with mobility concerns may evacuate to what’s called an Area of Refuge, which is a meeting spot for residents to be further evacuated by the fire department. The building may have a designated Emergency Assembly Point outside, for people to meet together for accountability (where officials help make sure everyone has safely evacuated the building). Here’s the POETE process for Evacuations. It is going to sound somewhat familiar to Sheltering-In-Place. Planning means having a plan as to where you would go now and also the “what-ifs” for if you are able to return or not, knowing what you might need while you wait at the Emergency Assembly Point, and how you would communicate with others if circumstances of the emergency change (for better or worse). Organization means knowing who is doing what – who may be needed to help you evacuate and then get you back to “normal”. Equipment, as mentioned before, is the stuff you need to evacuate. “Need” is the operative word.  We call it a “Go Bag”. This can hold everything from food, medicine, battery-powered cell charger, electric wheelchair charging devices, flashlight, small amount of water, glow stick, whatever. And as with the Stay Box, you need a Go Bag in different places, too. A purse or backpack you carry with you everywhere will do. Training is the process of reviewing the plan, asking questions, taking classes, and attending seminars on personal preparedness (the American Red Cross has these for free, so does FEMA) and asking questions of your leadership at work about emergency preparedness and response. And finally Exercising is the practice, practice, practice that everyone needs to do for emergency action planning. Practice your plan, practice using your equipment, practice with others, and practice some “what ifs” from your training.

Note that the steps and actions for Evacuations should sound familiar to those for Sheltering-In-Place. We designed this to be similar, for muscle-memory and consistency. There is a lot of preparing work involved for both, but it will be worth it. The point is to act on your plan, and not to panic. The last set of emergency response actions we have put into our all-hazards Emergency Action Plan template is associated with an Active Assailant. This one can combine elements of both sheltering-in-place and evacuation, plus one more which is really difficult to plan for: possibly fighting for your life.

Active Assailant

Active Assailant means the threat to your life is right there. Time has run out, and maybe so has distance and shielding. Most people have heard of the Active Shooter threat and maybe even phrases such as “Run, Hide, or Fight” or “Avoid, Deny, Defend”. You see on the news: schools and office buildings going into “lockdown” when there is a nearby threat. This is mis-labeled in our opinion. Those sites where the threat is not (yet) right there are in a “Lockout” alert phase (no one goes in and no one goes out) – they want to put distance and shielding between themselves and the threat. A site can be designed in a “Lockout” phase for other reasons besides an Active Assailant (chemical hazard, infectious disease threat, A lockout is the exact opposite of an evacuation, as far as what the public should thinkg.

A Lockdown now means something more.

We define a “Lockdown” as the combined set of response actions by the public to a direct active assailant. If the threat is coming through the front door and you can escape safely through the back door – then it is an evacuation for you. If you are nearer the front with no immediate clear/safe way out, then you may choose to shelter-in-place hopefully in a Safer(TM) Room, until you can – and should – evacuate. And if the threat is right upon you – you will need to fight for your own life using any means necessary. It is always better to quickly (time) put as much as much space (distance) between you and the threat, as safely as you can (shielding).

We believe the active assailant threat/hazard is very complex and can include other threats besides a shooter. The actions of first responders are turned upside down for active assailant attacks: fire and emergency medical services are held back until the “scene is safe” and police are reprioritized to “neutralize the threat” above saving the lives of people who have been injured. Here’s the POETE: Plan your actions towards the “Avoid, Deny, Defend” model – you need to incorporate your sheltering-in-place and evacuation planning wherever you are, plus plan to switch actions if necessary. There is no order to “Avoid, Deny, Defend” – nor is there a limit to how many different actions you can take. Focus on life safety – yours. When it comes to Organization, you are pretty much on your own. If you can safely help others, please do so. Please also follow the instructions of first responders to the letter. When you are evacuating from an active assailant incident, the police may not know if you are a threat or an evacuee. The Equipment is not much more than what you already have with a go bag and a stay box. When you are barricading yourself in a safer room, you need to consider how to keep the door closed and possibly how you might have to break a window to escape, or to signal for help. You may also need a bleeding control kit to help with injuries. There is a ton of Training on active assailant for the public, out there. Find some yourself or ask your organization’s leadership to host a class or two. Same for Exercises. We recommend a stair-stepped approach – start with a “Hide” table-top exercise where you discuss what everyone should do for the sheltering-in-place actions, then do a Hide game (internally, where you do not involve any calls to 9-1-1 or any outside responders), then do a Hide functional exercise where you do invite the first responders to help evaluate your exercise (and also gain knowledge of your site and the physical layout, security features, etc.). Any and all Active Assailant exercises of any kind must be scheduled in advance, as well as announced to your staff and visitors, and will include after-action discussions to make sure folks feel more comfortable and confident after each type of exercise. For many, just practicing this exercise in any way, will be extremely stressful. Failing to coordinate with local officials, keeping your own team in the loop, etc. will have significant risks itself. We can help your organization assess their emergency action plans and design an exercise series around active assailant threats.

And by the way, people should think of wildfires and hurricanes as active assailants, too. You may start out sheltering-in-place, but then the circumstances change – your time, distance and shielding from the threat become compromised – and its time to evacuate. Or be rescued if the first responders can get to you. In active assailant threats, you are first-and-foremost responsible for your own life-safety. Do what you have to do to survive – you will have little control over the incident stabilization aspects of this type of threat – and put the life safety of yourself and your family above your property protection or anything else. Stuff and buildings can always be replaced. People cannot.

These are the basics of Emergency Action Plans – and you can download a template at our website, which you can use for your home, your job, even your vacation plans elsewhere. And please let us know any questions or thoughts you may have on all of this – we welcome feedback from our clients and are always looking to improve what we offer. Should you stay or should you go, when there is an emergency? Hopefully now you have a better understanding of how simple the answer is, and also how complex it can be, too.

Michael Prasad, MA, CEM®

Senior Research Analyst

Barton Dunant – Emergency Management Training and Consulting.

www.bartondunant.com

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The 6,000 mile screwdriver

This is a term from the U.S. military – first noted by Anderson in Stars & Stripes in 2004 and then further explored by Miller in 2012 for his senior service college fellowship at the U.S. Army War College. The term is a description of micro-management from afar and by politicians – in these cases, from the White House directly to the line command of a military operation.

In Emergency Management, the equivalent could also be the White House (or a state’s/territory’s governor’s office) reaching down to a DR’s Command and Control (possibly through FEMA’s National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), the State Emergency Operations Center, or now by video link from anywhere), instead of only receiving updates and intelligence via the External Relations function. This is not like MAC Groups or Unified Command, where there are Emergency Management-qualified people in an offsite advisory role, helping those who are in charge. With politicians, there may be a question of their prioritization of Life Safety over Incident Stabilization over Property/Asset Protection.

FEMA itself has this challenge when it comes to supporting the states/territories/tribal nations. Each FEMA Region has a Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) and also imbeds FEMA Incident Management Teams with the local jurisdiction to be closer to the incident site(s). There are times when the NRCC can act like a 6,000 mile screwdriver, to the RRCC and their support provided locally.

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After Action Reports

The After-Action Report/Improvement Plan (AAR/IP) is a document that organizations (including FEMA) use to assess their ability to meet both real-world incidents and exercise objectives and capabilities. The AAR/IP generally has two components:

  • After-Action Report (AAR)Captures observations of an exercise and makes recommendations for post-exercise improvements.
  • Improvement Plan (IP)Identifies specific corrective actions and assigns them to responsible parties.

The AAR/IP also aligns incident command (or exercise) objectives with preparedness doctrine and related frameworks and guidance. It includes information required for preparedness reporting and trend analysis.


Some of the After Action Reports (AARs) on major incidents or GO/NGO councils/committees, we have found on the web. Do you know of any others available as OSINT (Open Source Intelligence – items available – TLP: Green- to the public, not classified or sensitive)? Please add in the comments. If any of these links are broken, please let us know via an e-mail to [email protected].

Year
Occurred
Report name/Location
2007Los Angeles Police Department Report to the Board of Police Commissioners – “An Examination of May Day 2007” – from MacArthur Park
2009The Lessons of Mumbai
2010Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Disaster
2015Attacks on Paris, France
2016After-Action Review of the Orlando Fire Department Response to the Attack at Pulse Nightclub
2017Las Vegas MCI – October 1st Route 91 Concert Shooting
Commemorating Disorder in After Action Reports: Rhetorics of Organizational Trauma after the Las Vegas Shooting
2017Independent Review of the 2017 Protest Events in Charlottesville, Virginia
2019‘Sharpiegate’ – Allegations of Scientific Misconduct During Hurricane Dorian
2020The Joint Federal/Provincial Commission into the April 2020 Nova Scotia Mass Casualty – Final Report – Turning the Tide Together – by the Mass Casualty Commission
2020An After-Action Review of City Agencies’ Responses to Activities Directly Following George Floyd’s Death on May 25, 2020. Conducted on behalf of the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota
2020Independent Review of New Jersey’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
2020Nashville, TN – 2020 Christmas Day Bombing: Communications Dependencies Case Study
2021City of Austin-Travis County 2021 Winter Storm Uri After-Action Reports
2021Fredrick, MD – Joshua Laird – LODD – After-Action Report and Improvement Plan (AAR/IP)
2022Uvalde, TX – 2022 Robb Elementary School Shooting: Interim Report. Conducted by the Texas House of Representatives, Investigative Committee on the Robb Elementary Shooting
2022Review of the University of Arizona’s Safety and Security Environment – from the killing of a professor on campus, by a former student
2022Buffalo, NY – Lessons Learned from the Buffalo Blizzard: Recommendations for Strengthening Preparedness and Recovery Efforts, 2022 Buffalo Blizzard After-Action Report/Improvement Plan – An Independent Alternative Report by the Center for Emergency Management Intelligence Research
2023Roadmap for Wildfire Resilience: Solutions for a Paradigm Shift by The Nature Conservancy and the Aspen Institute
2023The Impacts of Extreme Weather Events on People with Disabilities by the National Council on Disability
2023Rail Safety Report from the 2023 East Palestine, Ohio Train Derailment by the Ohio Senate Select Committee on Rail Safety
2023Lahaina Fire Comprehensive Timeline Report by the Fire Safety Research Institute (FSRI), part of UL Research Institutes
2023County of Maui Department of Fire and Public Safety After-Action Report Maui Wildfires by the Western Fire Chiefs Association
2023Maui Police Department Preliminary After-Action Report on the Maui Wildfires
Table of After-Action Reports (AARs) – if any of these links are broken, please let us know.

There are also pracademic perspectives on some of the AARs we have noted above. We have provided links to those as well. If you know of others – please let us know!

After Action Reporting is a formal process conducted after both real-world incidents and exercises. It involves an independent review of the actions and gaps (strengths and opportunities) of those groups responding, based on their plans. Barton Dunant can help your organization with independent After Action Reporting – drop us a line to learn more.

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US-DHS has free exercises for schools

Active Shooter Template

https://www.schoolsafety.gov/emergency-planning?subtopic%5B117%5D=117#block-views-block-resources-by-subtopic-block-1


FEMA’s Sample School Emergency Operations Plan (for Training Purposes)

Federal Emergency Management Agency

This sample school EOP was developed in accordance with the “Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans.” This document has been developed for training purposes only.


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2022 Reading List

Here’s what we are reading in 2022:

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink

LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media by P.W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Tantum Collins, David Silverman and Chris Fussell

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association: 7th Edition by the American Psychological Association

Moving to Higher Ground: Rising Sea Level and the Path Forward by John Englander

Truth Decay: An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life by Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael D. Rich

Communicating in Risk, Crisis, and High Stress Situations – Evidence-Based Strategies and Practices by Vincent T. Covello


Here’s the reading list from the Center from Homeland Security and Defense, from the Naval Postgraduate School:

https://www.chds.us/ed/items/81


Have a suggestion for our “light reading” book for the year? We usually choose a Stephen King book, but since COVID, it seems we need something a bit lighter, maybe even uplifting. Any suggestions – please include them in the comments.


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2021 Reading List

2020 Reading List
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EMPs – the MOM of COOP/COG for EM

We believe the worst-case scenario disaster which will fall on Emergency Management is the Electro-Magnetic Pulse wave (EMP) from a low-atmospheric detonation of a nuclear device over the United States. This will have catastrophic impacts to the continuity of operations / continuity of government (COOP/COG) for emergency management (EM). It is the maximum of maximums (MOM).

We have built an advanced table-top exercise for this scenario and welcome your thoughts and comments. It will be usable by single entries, any level jurisdiction, all the way up through an international multi-player exercise. The concept is the same: When you have no comms and no modern transportation and of course no electricity nor electronic devices, what do you expect/order your staff to do next? Take care of themselves and their families or do everything they can to get to work/stay at work? And do they know now what they are supposed to do if such a scenario should occur?

https://bartondunant.com/ola/services/emp-ttx-up-to-five-5-organizations-remote-facilitated-with-one-remote-exercise-evaluator

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Long-Term Community Resilience Exercise Resource Guide from FEMA

New material, as of November 2021.

The impacts of climate change are being felt today in communities across the country and increasingly test our resilience. Exercises provide a method for participants to visualize a future that is outside their direct experience and evaluate options for constructive action to adapt to climate changes already occurring and those to come. The Long-Term Community Resilience Exercise Resource Guide is a “one-stop–shop” for any jurisdiction or organization looking to conduct a climate-focused exercise. This guide equips users with:

  • A dictionary with common terms to ensure a shared understanding of climate-related terminology and principles before an exercise.
  • Tools and templates for planning and conducting climate-focused exercises.
  • Resources including funding opportunities, risk assessments and training programs.

Please e-mail [email protected] with questions or to share how you are using the Long-Term Community Resilience Exercise Resource Guide.

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How to effectively use marketing tools

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