The Salvation Army’s EDS is set to become ” preparedness professionals.”
“Be prepared in season and out of season” – 2 Timothy 4:
by John Berglund –
A Culture of Preparedness is how the Department of Homeland Security now describes its hope for the future — a society that understands planning as a priority. Although the post-Katrina lessons learned still resonate within all sectors – government, NGO, and private – how comforting it is to settle back into business-as-usual. The anticipated return to the status quo always provides reassuring safety and control. However, if one believes that we learn from experience and circumstance, then perhaps a catharsis – a welcomed gift for renewal – can only arrive through structured reflection.
In emergency management circles, catastrophic and simultaneous incidents are the new frontier. All sectors are asking the same question: “In these times, how do we focus our resources to produce the best results for those we serve?” For some, the answers come easily, and for most, trepidation inhibits implementation. Business-as-usual is really an oxymoron, as emergency management will never be the same post-Katrina. How all our disaster partners define business-as-usual after presenting their after-action reviews, their best practices, their debriefs, their lessons learned — that alone will demonstrate how well they listen, how well they learn.
In February 2006, The United States General Accounting Office (GAO) released their preliminary observations of the preparedness and response to Hurricane Katrina. It centered around three main themes: (1) Clear and decisive leadership, (2) Strong advance planning, training, and exercise programs, and (3) Capabilities for a catastrophic event. The report challenges us to ask:
(1) Is there a need to clearly define and communicate
lines of authority in order to facilitate rapid and
effective decision-making during an incident of
(2) Could there be a national platform that focuses
strong advance planning and standardized training
within all four territories?
(3) Is there wisdom in drafting an operational plan that
replaces “business as usual” in time of national
That same month, The Salvation Army’s Commissioners’ Conference approved “the establishment of an ad hoc committee to (1) review the involvement of The Salvation Army in disaster services with particular reference to emergency management response, and (2) develop a national catastrophic response plan.” The ad hoc committee, chaired by Major June McLaren (Central Territory), will convene for the first time at National Headquarters on August 23-25, 2006.