The Epitome of Failure – Part 2

The aeolian winds took control of the surrounding environment. A death-defying vortex formed and, along with it, a perturbation as inconceivable as the Camp Fire was overwhelming. This article continues to chronicle the story of a mega-disaster. Part 1 described how the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) spent the last decade causing major life and property losses due to seemingly incompetent organizational leadership. In the next segment of the story, PG&E may not be the villain its public image would suggest. Other influences and factors that may have played a role in its public image will be revealed.

Disasters & Their Acceptable Losses

One of the biggest challenges that emergency preparedness professionals face is how to balance the choices they make. Mitigating every risk is not realistic, but ignoring threats is reprehensible. Lessons learned from any disaster exposes the successes and failures of those tasked with keeping their communities safe. Some decisions have immediate impact, whereas the consequences of other decisions may not be seen until sometime in the future. In both cases, people are watching and decision makers will be held accountable.

Management of the Strategic National Stockpile, A Path Forward

Because of COVID-19, it is time to reevaluate preparedness and reconsider threats to the homeland. Good intentions and grand theories do not make good programs. Programs work best when they’re based on a detailed understanding of the problem begin solved and how they are implemented on the ground with solid funding commitments and realistic expectations.

The Wicked Problem of Lifting Social Distancing & Isolation

The issue of when or how to lift social distancing and isolation is a wicked problem. A “Wicked Problem” in policymaking defeats standard solutions because of the interaction between the wicked problem and its potential solutions. The application of the correct solution to one aspect of the wicked problem often complicates another aspect of the problem. Solving wicked problems is best done through the iterative process in which a partial solution is applied, the problem is re-defined, the next partial solution is applied, and the process is repeated. This process is termed “Muddling Through”, and it is dependent upon the ability to test a partial solution and react to it.

The Acceptable Loss – The Trolley Dilemma of Managing COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic takes its toll in terms of human lives and global economic consequences. Social distancing has proven to be the most promising strategy against emerging viruses without borders, but the heavy economic damage that follows puts in question the possibility of its continuation. In fact, weighing the two elements raises an important debate: What is the acceptable loss in order to win this battle?

Avoiding the Three As: Apathy, Atrophy & Attrition

Emergency management is everything to everybody, but it often lacks the glue that is so desperately needed to manage catastrophic events. This is likely the result of two common pitfalls that the profession has long suffered from, pitfalls that can begin as soon as one walks out of the meeting or training room door: apathy and atrophy. Apathy can be defined as a lack of interest, passion, excitement, or concern. When not effectively addressed, apathy can then lead to atrophy, a long gradual decline in effectiveness. Such weakening is caused by underuse of key knowledge, skills, and abilities.
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