Discussion Questions: What is the most significant vulnerability facing the emergency management discipline and why? 


1. For this week’s question we were asked what is the most significant vulnerability facing the emergency management discipline and why?  As I contemplated various input for this question, I wanted to start with what I felt was the most important aspect of Emergency Management which is its discipline of avoiding risks and prevent the loss of life.  Ideally, Emergency Management disciplines involves prepping for a crisis, responding during and after a crisis, as well as support after a disaster.    From our readings I found this statement, “Emergency management is the responsibility of more than government; it involves NGOs, community groups, and individuals (Etkin, 2016).”  Understanding these additional Emergency Management responsibilities, overall, I can see how personnel play a major role towards ethical choices.  Dissecting more of the article from Etkin, I see how he correlated ethical theories, utilitarianism, social contract, virtue ethics, deontology, and environmental sustainability.  Etkin really opened my eyes and helped me understand the relationship people have on our values to our environment.  Understanding the discipline of Emergency Management is to avoid risks and prevent loss of life, I can make a better choice on what I feel is its significant vulnerability.  I feel the greatest strength is its greatest vulnerability, which are people. Emergency management personnel have an important part to play and essentially, their training, ethics, goals, values, etc. can either be a part of the solution or part of the problem.  Since we are talking about vulnerabilities of Emergency Management, I will stick with problem.  Vulnerable populations such as people with disabilities were not part of or thought of when States/Cities were implementing measures for people with such ailments.  Los Angeles, California violated Federal and State disability laws by failing to include people with disabilities in their 200 plus page emergency preparedness plan.  Why do States/Cities let this occur when FEMA’s Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) specifically mentions that emergency preparedness plans need to include people with disabilities (Flowers, 2016)?  Therefore, this backs up my ideal of a vulnerability when it comes to Emergency Management.

2. Emergency management is the allocation of resources and responsibilities when dealing with a disaster.  The primary agency dealing with disasters is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  The Federal Emergency Management Agency was created in 1979 by President Carter.  Although this organization is relatively new, the federal disaster approach has been around for a longer time.  When the Department of Homeland Security was created in 2003, FEMA was adopted into this organization.  Under the DHS, FEMA took a unique role in protecting the nation post terrorist attacks rather than focusing on all types of disasters.  It was not until hurricane Katrina devastated the south east did the roles and responsibilities once again change to a more all disaster approach.  It is difficult for this organization to complete its own agenda while falling under the DHS.  This issue needs to be addressed and FEMA needs to become its own organization that falls under the government rather than the DHS.  Disasters come in many different shapes and forms, and due to this it can be difficult to predict what type of disaster may strike and the devastation it may cause.  “The changes in and interactions between the social, built, and physical environments are making some hazards more severe, concentrating risk, and widening exposure and vulnerability” (Jensen et al., 2016).  It is important for FEMA to identify all the different resources associated with a disaster.  These different relief organizations range from all levels of government and non-government agencies.  These different agencies need to coordinate with each other to ensure they can provide the most effective means of relief.  Along with providing relief it is important to mitigate any potential risk prior to it occurring, prepare for those risks, respond once a disaster happens and also recover from a disaster.  “Emergency measures in most jurisdictions are rarely, if ever, activated, public managers find it difficult to evaluate and assess the quality of existing emergency management programs” (Henstra, 2010).  It is not until a disaster strikes when an emergency management plan is implemented and tried.  It can be very difficult to simulate the conditions of a potential disaster and the effects it will have on a region.

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