When Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans, the first casualty was local government. In that case, days went by before the emergency response system reacted to an unfolding disaster. Last year, Puerto Rico had a similar crisis when the island was devastated by back-to-back hurricanes.
ICMA’s Local Government Leadership 201 Course will feature three presentations to provide the basics on emergency management response and crisis leadership. Those three sessions will be delivered by CPSM Director Thomas Wieczorek.
“The emergency management process depends on local government,” Wieczorek said. “All disasters start and end at the local level. The Robert T. Stafford Act is based on the local government engaging; only when those resources are exhausted can a request for aid be made – first to the state and, if the state resources are exhausted, the federal government. Federal response is in the form of assistance to the state and to the local government for specific needs that cannot be provided because of excess demand.”
The first of the three sessions will be delivered Tuesday, June 26 and will be followed by two additional sessions. The three sessions are included in the block of programs received by webinars and that result in a certificate of completion. The 201 program builds upon basics that were provided in an earlier 101 class which CPSM also helped present.
“The federal emergency response process can be confusing. Local government often assumes that the federal response will be to ‘take over’ the crisis; nothing could be further from reality. Instead, local government will request and be provided with the necessary resources to protect life and only then property. But the aid goes to the local government that directs the response as well as recovery. All of that takes mitigation and preparation to manage the risks that are inherent in communities from hazards that occur on a daily basis. Fire and police deployment should be undertaken in response to risks from hazards; often times that is not the case,” Wieczorek said.
If you would like to engage in the process, you can sign up on the ICMA.org website under the local government 201 program. There are a number of topics that will be presented in addition to emergency management. Click/tap here to learn more: icma.org/local-government-201-online-certificate-program
Wieczorek noted that the emergency management portion will also be presented at the ICMA’s annual conference in Baltimore in September. “ICMA recognizes the critical role that local government managers play in the response and recovery process. They are actively working with FEMA and local government leaders to educate and build teams to respond when disasters/crisis occurs. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’