Governors / Local Officials

Governors / Officials

Emergency Preparedness Considerations

 

If you have not received training from your Emergency Preparedness Officer, we strongly recommend you study the information contained in the National Response Framework (NRF). NRF was dictated by Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8) to provide the structure and mechanisms for national-level policy for incident management.

 

Additional valuable resources can be found by clicking:

National Incident Management System (NIMS) - NIMS provides the national template for the management of incidents. NIMS also maintains timelines for incident response times.

National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF) - NDRF provides guidance that enables effective recovery support to disaster-impacted States, Tribes and local jurisdictions.

 

 

Crucial issues, not usually found in local and state disaster plans, that should be considered and discussed with Incident Commanders:
I. Funding

 

In a great many cases, dozens of charities will pop up in the weeks following an incident; some valid some fraudulent. Even if all the funds were valid, the number of funds can be overwhelming. For example, following the Newtown shooting, 66 funds were created with an aggregate value of well over $20 million. Some of the money was earmarked, some was not. Who manages the distribution? Who fights the legal battles? We have found a way to avoid this problem. 

 

  1. Organize and designate a committee to handle funding issues

  2. Limit the number of funds to 2 if at all possible; allocate one for "Victims and Families", and one for "Victims and Victim Services".

  • Funds for Victims and Families must be dispersed solely to victims and victim's families.

  • Funds reserved for "Victims and Victim Services" can be spent on mental health care, rehabilitation services and any other service the victims or families may require immediately or over the years.

  • When possible, steer donations to the "Victims and Victim Services" fund because this will provide you greater flexibility for distribution.

  • Recommended dispersion is 60/40 or 50/50 for victims/victim services.

    • Victims will spend the money when it is received; however, victim's services will be needed on an extended basis especially during:

      • Anniversary dates

      • Similar occurrences

      • Court proceedings, if applicable​​

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3.  Don't distribute all the victim's service funds immediately. Victims and their families will consume resources for years. Every time there is another event, 

mental health service use jumps. We recommend distributing no more than 50% of the funds reserved for victims and services initially.

 

4. It often occurs that family squabbles will interrupt the distribution of funds to victims' families. If these squabbles require court intervention, it will take at least three (3) years before any money is distributed. Additionally, lawyers and court costs will reduce the distribution amount by 40% and the person responsible for fund distribution will need to be paid for an additional three years. 

 

5. Most (75-90%) Federal money allocated for the handling of the incident goes to the Judicial (see below). You CANNOT count on this money being available for victims or services.

 

6. Find an iconic, non-political spokesperson to explain funding issues to the public

  • They should handle the publicity

  • A retired politician is suggested; not a current politician

 

7. Presenting a plan of distribution is highly recommended, including an explanation of the timeframes involved.

 

8. Creating prefund plans are highly recommended.

 

9. To avoid confusion, the name of the fund should not contain the word "Victim".

 

10. The NRC is in the process of securing 5 fund repositories that can be used at a moments' notice. This is to help deter the creation of fraudulent fund accounts. Contact us for more information.

 

11. Allocate 2-5% of incoming donations towards the maintenance of a Community Resilience Center

II. Media
 

The media will ​gravitate towards horrific and heart-breaking stories. As the adage says, "If it bleeds, it leads". It is best to be up front with the media. 

 

  1. Designate a PIO (Public Information Officer) with the responsibility of keeping the press up-to-date. No other incident team member should be allowed to approach or update the press.

  2. Set fixed times, usually twice per day to communicate with the press, unless there is breaking news.

  3. Call out their mistakes sooner rather than later. If you wait for a board to approve any message, it will be lost in tomorrow's news.

  4. Keep press releases simple and limited to a single page or less. Often, the media will use the release verbatim.

  5. Incident commander should set up a Joint Information System (JIS) to accumulate information and decide on what facts can/should be released. This group must make immediate decisions; if they wait days to respond to erroneous press claims, they will lose the opportunity to do so.

  6. Emotion trumps fact

  7. In social media, meanness trumps facts

III. Medical

 

In any crisis there will be victims. If there are a large number, the hospitals will be quickly overwhelmed. Even Boston hospitals had difficulty handling so many injured. Medical costs for victims and their families will normally rise to unaffordable levels causing greater hardship. We have learned some harsh lessons.

 

  1. Perform triage in the field and route the victims to hospitals that cater to their injuries.  In heat of the moment, it is easy to shove as many victims into an ambulance and get them to the nearest hospital. This is not effective. Critical care cases should be taken to the nearest trauma center and the less critical cases to the nearest hospital. The reason is that most hospitals don't have a trauma center. Taking critically injured victims to a normal hospital reduces their chance for recovery. Alternately, taking less critically injured victims to the trauma center quickly clogs their beds so that they are not able to handle the more critical cases.

  2. Hospitals can and will write off medical expenses for the victims, if you ask. Be persistent. It took three months for the final hospital to donate services after the Aurora Theater shooting.   Medical bills after the incident can escalate quickly. In Boston, for example several victims have incurred exhorbitant medical bills. This does not include additional care that will be required for artificial limbs, etc. 

IV. Judicial

 

In the heat of the moment, it is easy to forget the judicial element of a crisis. Almost always, at the end of the crisis, the courts and lawyers get involved in a very expensive manner. For example, when the Oklahoma bombing trial was moved to Denver, almost a thousand people were required each day to simply feed the number of reporters, witnesses and legal counsel. Denver had not budgeted for such an onslaught of on-lookers. We have learned that:

 

  1. Federal funding will be earmarked almost exclusively for upcoming court costs and legal fees. Do not count on them being available to pay for first responder overtime or victim restitution

  2. Costs for Judicial sector will quickly rise and will frequently exceed the amount provided in funding

 

V. Mental Health

 

When a rubber band is stretched beyond its resiliency point, it will not resume its normal shape again. It is the same with a person; if they are stretched beyond their emotional resiliency point, they cannot recover fully. 

 

  1. Counseling for the victims and families must start immediately. At Newtown, counseling started within an hour

  2. Remember to provide counseling for first responders. This will be an event most have never prepared for

  3. Relocate the families to a nearby local facility; talking to other victims has shown to be one of the most effective forms of therapy

  4. Remember to engage the faith-based community, they can be of enormous help

  5. It's too late to prepare first responders when the crisis occurs, train early and often

  6. Strongly consider setting up a Community Resilience Center. Victims and their families, first responders, even community leaders will require an emotionally safe location to help them recover. As mentioned above, talking with other survivors has shown to be very effective for recovery.

 

© 2013 by The National Resiliency Center, All rights reserved.