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#181791 - 09/09/09 03:05 PM A Letter from Emergency Management
MartinFocazio Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2148
Loc: Bucks County PA
So, given that the 72>96 hour post generated a lot of heat and ideas, I've been pondering how to approach our community. One thing that comes out clear from the thread is that expectations are high, and preparation is low. So I've decided to start a draft letter to our community - and I'd like your input. Instead of telling the community what we are PREPARED to do in an emergency, I am going to send a letter telling them what we're NOT going to do.

Something like this (and again, your input is sought)

Dear [Resident Name],

We are in the process of revamping the Emergency Management plans for the Township. As you know, some of the most common threats we face in our area are:

- Severe Weather Events
- River Flooding
- Hazardous Materials Release (from passing trucks)
- Wildfires

In addition, over the next few years, we face a long process of road and bridge construction, all of which affect emergency preparedness.

As a result, we are totally revamping our emergency operations plan and we would like to make sure you understand what the Township and other agencies can can't do in an emergency situation, and with this understanding, we hope that you create a good emergency plan and have the necessary supplies.

We will attempt to notify the community of a large-scale emergency or pending flood and if there is an evacuation needed, we will advise as to where to go if you don't have anywhere else to stay. We can't help you with your personal evacuation transportation and we can't provide you with any supplies, including medical supplies, that you might need after you evacuate.

During an emergency, we will address situations from most critical to least critical - just like patients in an emergency room. If the telecommunications infrastructure is damaged or overloaded, you may not be able to reach 9-1-1. During emergencies, we can provide you with information and recommended action plans, but during an emergency we won't be able to immediately provide the public with drinking water, food or sanitation facilities and we do not have the capacity to provide shelter within the township. We will not be able to provide fuels of any kind. It is critical that you are always ready and supplied as needed in case the power goes out, the roads are blocked, bridges are out or if you have to leave your home unexpectedly, as during the initial phases of an emergency, the most critical emergency resource is YOU.

After an emergency, we will work with multiple agencies to facilitate whatever work is needed to stabilize and/or repair public infrastructure such as roads, telecommunications and electricity. We will assess damage to private property and as conditions warrant, we will dispatch emergency personnel where and immediate danger to life exists. Other damage to private property that does not affect public safety or mobility will be given a lower priority and may not warrant an emergency response at all.

We will provide you with information about available county, state and federal programs that may be available to you as needed.

If you need help developing a personal emergency plan, please let us know. We are ready willing and able to help you with your needs and we look forward to assisting you.






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#181796 - 09/09/09 03:49 PM Re: A Letter from Emergency Management [Re: MartinFocazio]
Blast Offline
INTERCEPTOR
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3561
Loc: Spring, Texas
Hmmm, I like the idea of forcing people to confront the fact that emergency services can't swoop down from heaven and fly them off to safety and comfort. However, I suspect such a letter would cause people just to get angry rather than take any additional responsiblity for their safety. frown I can just imagine them yelling, "For what reason have I paid taxes?!" (in my head everyone speaks proper English).

Maybe you could add a blurb about budget cuts or that not as many people are volunteering anymore. You might also say something about attending CERT classes to help the community.

I'd also rewrite this sentence as it kind of negates everything you said earlier, at least the the chronically dependent:
Quote:
We are ready willing and able to help you with your needs and we look forward to assisting you.

Maybe something like "We are ready and willing to help you determine your and your family's needs to prepare for likely emergencies."

-Blast


Edited by Blast (09/09/09 03:49 PM)
Edit Reason: bad speller
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#181800 - 09/09/09 04:08 PM Re: A Letter from Emergency Management [Re: Blast]
Arney Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Blast
I suspect such a letter would cause people just to get angry rather than take any additional responsiblity for their safety...Maybe you could add a blurb about budget cuts or that not as many people are volunteering anymore.

I was thinking exactly the same thing. Probably an angry reaction when you list what you guys can't do, but potentially a good opportunity to use the economic situation to raise the fact that there isn't money to do everything. I think people will be more receptive to that idea now than during more normal times.

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#181801 - 09/09/09 04:17 PM Re: A Letter from Emergency Management [Re: Blast]
ki4buc Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/10/03
Posts: 710
Loc: Augusta, GA
I love the idea of telling them how it is. You have mentioned before that your township has a handful of people. The only thing that stuck out to me is your use of the word "we". I'm assuming it's "we" as in the township government. But, maybe it's "we" as in everyone in the township.

I think given that you have a small township, that maybe using the word "I" along with specific titles, instead of the word "we" might give the letter a more personable feel. I realize that EM is a team effort, but using words like "we" and "township" seem to give a citizen-vs-government feel. Not the "we're all in the same boat" feel. Mention that everyone in the town is a de facto member of your emergency management team, everyone needs to be on the same page and work together. smile You're only good as your weakest link. Ah, cliches.

Change:
we won't be able to immediately provide the public with drinking water

To:
I won't be able to immediately provide you with drinking water


BTW, I like the idea of putting what you can do at the end.

Are you going to do workshops? I think a collaborative leadership approach may work extremely well in your small community.

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#181804 - 09/09/09 04:27 PM Re: A Letter from Emergency Management [Re: Blast]
Susan Offline
Geezer

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
Blast: "However, I suspect such a letter would cause people just to get angry rather than take any additional responsiblity for their safety."

Yes, the knee-jerk-reaction reaction.

What about this:

Day One News Article: Property Taxes Increasing 50% to Cover Emergency Management Costs.

That's to get their attention.

Day Four News Article: Alternative to 50% Property Tax Hike

Explain how there just isn't enough money to be every citizen's mommy and daddy, and that if they don't want to pay up the nose, people need to make some attempt to take care of themselves.

Maybe have a Get Ready Fair (lots of advertising -- NOT on a weekend competing with something else) with examples of things to to do and to acquire.

Feed each section to them in bites, not a body slam that will make them do a 180 in the entrance. I would suggest having it categorized as to need, adult/teen, children, elderly, handicapped, pets, etc. Each section should be spaced apart from the rest, maybe having displays showing how to store it. Ask some stores to donate some freestanding storage units (with acknowledgments for some free advertising).

Example: Show two totes for Rover, one for his bag of dry kibble and the other for his tie-out chain (if the fence is knocked down or washes away), leash, brush, flea/tick preps, bowls, extra water, etc. And one for Miss Kitty, carrier, folding wire dog crate, tote for food, dishes, litter box and litter, etc. Emphasize the importance of identification.

Have tables with people showing how some of the useful things like vacuum sealers work (ask for free donations from the source for demonstration), homemade emergency stoves, regular easy-use stoves for the non-handy, and similar stuff.

Set up a demo display of an out-of-house emergency camp made from a large tarp, folding chairs,

Have some cheap printed booklets (3 big staples is a fine binding) with suggestion lists of what to stock, a list of good books for info, etc.

Bring in some sample water, gas and electric meters to demonstrate how to turn them off, and any warnings on turning them back on.

Make it cool, make it appeal to the gear junkies, make it easy to understand, make it do-able to the fearful.

Sue

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#181809 - 09/09/09 04:48 PM Re: A Letter from Emergency Management [Re: MartinFocazio]
MartinFocazio Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2148
Loc: Bucks County PA
Thanks - keep them coming.

also

1. the situation isn't a matter of whining or taxes - we don't get a lot of whiners and there's no budget at all for ANYTHING in the township - they have hardly any money for the roads much less emergency services, so we're not talking about a tax increase or anything.

2. I need to keep it all about "we" and "us"

3. I'll shorten it, but after more comments.

Be harsh, I can take it. But be aware that this community has been through three major river floods in 2 years. We're familiar with emergencies.

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#181813 - 09/09/09 05:01 PM Re: A Letter from Emergency Management [Re: MartinFocazio]
bsmith Offline
day hiker
Addict

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 584
Loc: ventura county, ca
an editing - for clarity and succinctness.

Dear [Resident Name],

We are in the process of revamping the Emergency Management plans for the Township. As you know, some of the most common threats we face in our area are:

- Severe Weather Events
- River Flooding
- Hazardous Materials Release (from passing trucks)
- Wildfires

In addition, over the next few years, we face a long process of road and bridge construction, all of which affect emergency preparedness.

As a result, we are totally revamping our emergency operations plan. We want to make sure you understand what the Township and other agencies can and cannot do for you in an emergency situation. With this understanding, we hope that you will create an emergency plan and have the necessary supplies on hand before an emergency.

It is critical that you are always ready and supplied in case the power goes out, the roads are blocked, bridges are out or if you have to leave your home unexpectedly. During the initial phases of an emergency the most critical emergency resource is YOU.

In the face of an emergency,
We will:
· attempt to notify the community of a large-scale emergency or pending flood.

If there is an evacuation needed,
We will:
· advise you where the nearest evacuation center is located.
. advise you how to reach the nearest evacuation center.

We cannot:
· help you with your personal evacuation transportation
· provide you with any supplies, including medical supplies, that you might need after you evacuate.

During an emergency,
We will:
· evaluate situations from most critical to least critical – just like patients in an emergency room.
· provide you with information and recommended action plans.

We cannot:
· immediately provide drinking water, food or sanitation facilities.
· provide shelter within the township.
· provide fuels of any kind.

After an emergency,
We will:
· work with multiple agencies to facilitate whatever work is needed to stabilize and/or repair public infrastructure such as roads, telecommunications and electricity.
· assess damage to private property.
· when possible, dispatch emergency personnel where immediate danger to life exists. Other damage to private property that does not affect public safety or mobility will be given a lower priority and may not warrant an emergency response at all.
· provide you with information about available county, state and federal programs that may be available to you as needed.

Please let us know if you need help developing a personal emergency plan. We are ready, willing, and able to help you with your needs and we look forward to assisting you.


Edited by bsmith (09/09/09 08:21 PM)
Edit Reason: . advise you how to reach the nearest evacuation center.
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#181816 - 09/09/09 05:39 PM Re: A Letter from Emergency Management [Re: Blast]
DesertFox Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/04/07
Posts: 339
Loc: New York, NY
Agree in part and disagree in part. People may well be upset that their taxes don't provide instant service in response to any contingency. Your suggestion will leave them thinking that it would be possible to provide instant service if only the budget were bigger/taxes were higher/the economy was better, etc. They are still going to be angry.

It might be better to preempt that whole line of reasoning, with something like:

"No emergency service agency, regardless of size or budget, can plan and prepare to instantly respond to every possible disaster or large-scale emergency. We will provide the quickest and most professional response humanly possible . . . . . "

That's just off the top of my head. Martin can probably word it better, but hopefully you understand what I am getting at.

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#181819 - 09/09/09 05:48 PM Re: A Letter from Emergency Management [Re: DesertFox]
MartinFocazio Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2148
Loc: Bucks County PA
Originally Posted By: DesertFox

It might be better to preempt that whole line of reasoning, with something like:

"No emergency service agency, regardless of size or budget, can plan and prepare to instantly respond to every possible disaster or large-scale emergency. We will provide the quickest and most professional response humanly possible . . . . . "



Great start. This is a good idea - a preamble.

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#181821 - 09/09/09 06:00 PM Re: A Letter from Emergency Management [Re: DesertFox]
Tjin Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/08/02
Posts: 1729
I don’t know you’re exact position, but don't forget to let the letter check by the management/boss/commander/mayor. It can be political sensitive. For smooth and effective operation, we need the politicians to trust and like us (“we” don’t need politicians to tell us what to do in an emergency) . So keep them happy to a certain extend is vital.

When signing the letters, let a person sign who is in a political neutral position, by the public conceived as knowledgeable and reliable. It helps with the “trust” issues for citizens.

As for the letter. I’m not sure how much work you are planning to invest. Be aware that it is a relative ineffective tool to change human behavior. I do expect it to be more effective than campaigns by the government, because it’s more local and it’s address to people personally.

You might consider a separate letter or extra attention for citizens who have had a lot of luck during previous emergency’s. “Unrealistic optimism” is a common issue with people who where unaffected by previous emergency
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