Ep 33: Emergency Management

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Episode 33: Emergency Management

A discussion about the role of emergency management and the emergency manager in active shooter events.

Bill Godfrey:

Welcome to the Active Shooter Incident Management podcast. My name is Bill Godfrey, I'm your host of the podcast. Today we're going to be talking about the role of emergency management and the emergency manager in active shooter events. Something that doesn't always get a lot of coverage, but certainly an important topic. We're glad to have you with us today. I've got with me three of the instructors from C3 Pathway. Stephen Shaw out of North Carolina. Steve, it's good to see you again. Been awhile.

Stephen Shaw:

Good to see you, Bill. Thank you for having me.

Bill Godfrey:

Absolutely. And we've got back with us Robert McMahan. Retired out of Colorado, now living in Oklahoma.

Robert McMahan:

Yeah, it's a great place to be. Thanks for having me again.

Bill Godfrey:

And a familiar voice, we've got with us Bruce Scott out of Jacksonville, retired, but down here in the house. Bruce, how you doing?

Bruce Scott:

I'm doing well, Bill, and yourself?

Bill Godfrey:

Doing well, doing well. Guys, thanks for coming in to talk about this with us today. So as I said in the opening, the subject here is emergency management and the role it plays in an active shooter event, and I kind of want to set the stage here a little bit as we start to talk about this topic. Senior-ranking officials in law enforcement, fire, EMS certainly understand the role of emergency management. Usually have some sort of involvement with emergency management. But as you move down towards the line level, Bruce, would you say it's fair to say they're aware of emergency management but not necessarily real clear on what they can do for us and where we fit it?

Bruce Scott:

Absolutely, and I'll share with you, Bill, we're both from Florida and most of your folks in Florida, your typical first responders in Florida, they're going to tell you that emergency operation centers are for hurricanes. That's it.

Bill Godfrey:

And wildfires.

Bruce Scott:

Yeah.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah.

Robert McMahan:

Yeah, in Colorado that was for snow storms.

Bill Godfrey:

Oh, there you go. What'd you guys use them for in North Carolina, floods?

Stephen Shaw:

Hurricanes, floods.

Bill Godfrey:

Hurricanes? Okay. All right, fair enough. So what we're going to talk about today, gang, is the role of emergency management in an active shooter event. And it's actually very significant and very consequential and can make a pretty big difference in your incident, especially if you fail to think about it early on. Bruce, I'm going to go to you to start us off here a little bit and kind of set the stage for the audience on some of the challenges that will come up on nearly every active shooter event that go a whole lot better if you've got emergency management there with you.

Bruce Scott:

Well, Bill, you mentioned if we have this active shooter incident, and the role of emergency management will play, but let's talk about also the role that they might have, or should have, or could have prior to this incident ever happening in your community. Emergency management typically has mechanisms to bring trainings. All right? They're the ones working the grounds. They're the ones building these relationships and partnerships across organizational boundaries that can allow us to train and work together. So emergency management is actually a player long before that incident ever happens, and I think that's important.

Bill Godfrey:

I think that's a really good point, the pre-event involvement. What are some of the other places that jump out in your head for pre-event involvement? Resources-

Bruce Scott:

Yeah.

Bill Godfrey:

Relationships with NGOs?

Bruce Scott:

Absolutely. So you know, your faith-based organizations, your volunteer organizations, your other agencies that may live and work in your community. There's a really good chance that emergency management has previously established relationships with those organizations. They also have planned with them, right? They've worked and built those relationships. We talked years ago about the whole community approach to emergency management and the whole community approach brought in all these NGOs, all these faith-based organizations, into emergency management planning. As well as the individuals that live and work in our communities.

Bill Godfrey:

Schools?

Bruce Scott:

Absolutely. I know you're giving me the cross-eyed look like I missed that, right? I didn't grab the low-hanging fruit and I apologize. I will share with you, yeah, not only... I remember a story when I worked in emergency management where one of our school had a active shooter situation happen in that school, and so every school in our district basically started calling emergency management and asking us what are our plans for reunification of our students? Looking to emergency management not only to have a plan but already know what that plan is and already be able to give them a blueprint of what that plan was to reunify their students

And so we realize we missed the bus, really, on building those relationships with our schools and letting them know, "Hey this is your plan. We'll help you develop, give you some templates. We can give you some best practices, but this has got to be tailor-made to your own school." And we were really successful with that over the next two years and building those relationships with our schools. Long before it became the soup du jour, or active shooters became the soup du jour, was building those relationships with the schools to help them develop their plans, working with our law enforcement partners to talk about security. It might happen... Some of the security practices they can put in place in their schools to make them safer. But then drilling, and working, and exercising with those schools to make sure that the school board, law enforcement, fire, EMS, emergency management, we were all on the same page.

Bill Godfrey:

I think that's a great list of stuff, and I want to come back and pick up on a couple of those. But before we do, I think I want to go back to the very beginning of this thing. So, Steve, Robert, I'm going to come to you guys to talk a little bit about those operational actions that are going to go on for pretty much any active shooter event. And I'm not talking about the first 15 minutes, 20 minutes of neutralizing the threat and the initial response and taking care of the injured. In most cases, that's going to happen, for better or worse, fairly quickly, we hope. Talk to me a little bit about what happens. So you've got... Your threat's either neutralized or not a factor, and you've got your last of your injured transported. What are the things that's going to happen at that point moving forward? Take me through the operations of that.

Robert McMahan:

Well, you're going to have impact on the local area as far as transportation, effects on businesses, and you're going to have to have some of those relationships ironed out beforehand. As I'm sitting here talking about it, I'm thinking about Las Vegas. You look at that shooting that occurred there, and if emergency management hadn't had some working relationship with the casinos and businesses that were impacted by that shooting, I think it would've been a lot bigger disaster than what it was. There's crime scenes to be investigated, and there's just a lot of logistics that go on supporting that crime scene investigation and managing that incident in the aftermath of the shooter and rescuing victims. And puts law enforcement on post to manage crime scene, to take care of victims, to move people around, and it just consumes a lot of resources that puts those people out there for a long time, and that takes support. It takes food, and shelter, and all kinds of things that help make that successful and support those first responders and community while they're out there dealing with that aftermath.

Stephen Shaw:

I think that's one thing that gets taken for granted, he mentioned the crime scene. This is an active crime scene that has to be processed. We have people there, there's going to be bags laying around that we have to check and search. What do we do with these people? If this is an active business or a school, what about the people that were there? We have to interview all those people, and now we have to follow up with them. We talk about reunification a lot for schools, but what if this happens in a business where people are... And one of the things that we have locally is a lot of people work at the university, and they park off-site and they ride a shuttle.

So how are we going to get these people back there? So a lot of that, just the logistics of working a crime scene that large with that many people involved, I think, is taken for granted. That's where emergency management, like Robert was saying, you're going to have police officers that are going to be on post for a long time, and I think a lot of times people don't understand that. And I think that's where emergency management comes in to get these people food, relief, shelter, water, things like that that a lot of times, just on the patrol level, you don't think about. Or even at the first line supervisor level, you don't think about that kind of stuff.

Robert McMahan:

And the civilians, too, you know? I already mentioned Las Vegas, but think of a mall or anything else like that that's a business where people flee the scene or they go shelter and their transportation or belongings, or whatever it is becomes part of that crime scene and they can't get to it. Those people are going to need support to get reestablished somewhere else or in a shelter until they can get back to normal.

Bill Godfrey:

I think these are all really great examples of the kinds of things that emergency management can and needs to be involved in. It's interesting, Steve and Robert, you guys are talking mostly about the impacts at the site. And Bruce mentioned the community impact, and that's one of the things that I don't know that always gets really well-considered or thought out of. Yes, we have all these responders at the scene. We're going to have needs at the scene. We're going to have logistics requirements. The crime scene may go on for days if not weeks. There may be some security require... That's all at that scene.

But if it's a school, what are we doing about the other schools? Are they being put on lockdown or secured? To what degree? What's the communication going on with the parents? What's the location that we've shut down? How widespread is that? How are we going to communicate that? How are we going to work traffic around it? Is it going to interrupt transportation or shuttle commuter operations? Things like that. Bruce, how big a deal do you think that is for emergency management to be on top of that as opposed to the incident commander that's overseeing the site focused on his site? Is that a good delineation of-

Bruce Scott:

Absolutely. And I'll share with you, there's actually a FEMA class out there that I took a long time ago. It was the ICS/EOC interface, and it was talking about that relationship that has to happen between the on-scene incident commander and the emergency operation center. And the role that emergency operation centers can... What emergency operation center or emergency managers bring to the table in support of those incident commanders. And it basically forces the emergency managers in the class to look at it through the incident commander's eyes, and it forces the incident commanders to look at it through the emergency manager's eyes. And it really is a fantastic class to kind of look at how the other half lives and what their roles and responsibilities are.

I'll share with you that that on-scene incident commander's dealing with the here and now, and what happens next, but all those things that Robert and Steve talked about that we've kind of alluded to, if emergency management's doing their job, those plans may very well be in place. They may already have those relationships established, so quickly and efficiently bring those resources into the fight. Simple things like transportation. You start talking about moving 100s of students somewhere where you can secure them and interview them, as Steve said. Somewhere that is not on the crime scene. How are we going to do that? And relationships with emergency managers, letting them know they can pick up that phone and have that conversation with that emergency manager, and they have those pre-established relationships. They potentially have contracts in place to be able to execute city buses, school buses, or other forms of transportation to move those students, right?

We often talk about emergency managers... How important a role they have with that whole subject of complex coordinated attacks, and we talk about an area command staging, we talk about huge resource requests and we're going to bring them into our jurisdiction. You start bringing that amount of resources into your jurisdiction, how are you going to support them? Simple things like a place to go to the bathroom, mechanical issues, fuel, food. You have to be able to support those resources. You just can't bring them and sit them. You want to be able to support them. So I think that we kind of talked about that relationship that happens, but I think it's important that everybody, every first responder, every emergency manager, understand that relationship can't be built on the day that the bad thing's happening. You want to do them beforehand.

Robert McMahan:

And that's especially important if you get into an event that lasts a long time. You get into multi-operational periods because those things just take a lot more resources to support the resources. A lot more logistics involved to feed and shelter and provide basics for people.

Bill Godfrey:

Absolutely. Bruce, you mentioned the ICS/EOC interface class was a great class. I think one of the fascinating things, to me, and we all enjoy doing this, is when we have emergency managers in the training classes, not only do we have them play the EOC role, we also have one of the emergency managers be a liaison at the command post.

Stephen Shaw:

Absolutely.

Bill Godfrey:

So that they do get that first-hand experience, and the exchanges... What I almost always hear, whether it's during the scenario or in the hot wash afterwards is the discussion about the emergency manager saying, "I didn't realize how fast and furious and chaotic the information is that's coming in." And then you end up with the incident commander going, "Yeah, I had all these things that came up and I didn't know how I was going to deal with them," but the emergency manager said, "I can take that, I can do that, we can work on that, we can handle this."

And so there's this kind of common understanding, and I would go so far as to say I think that's a best practice for emergency management operations across the country to not only stand up their EOC, whether it's a full activation or a partial activation, but also have one of their EM persons go to the scene to be the liaison directly at the command post because if you're sitting at the EOC waiting on the phone to ring, but the incident commander doesn't know to call you, as opposed to being in the command post and hearing, like you said, the discussion come up, "We're going to need about 20 buses. We're going to need a facility to lock down and be able to use." And then they can hear those conversations and kind of volunteer. "Hey, we've got an option for that."

Bruce Scott:

And we talked about the dispatchers and the role that they play, and you start looking in these after-action reports and not being specific to any one of them, but you'll often find on there that senior leadership or emergency management was never notified of the incident. And so I think that's another place that we can tag our dispatchers in their role into our active shooter response, is to make sure there's some automatic notifications that go out to our emergency managers.

Bill Godfrey:

I think that's a really good point. Okay, I'm going to shift gears here a little bit. Bruce, you've got a saying that I want to bring out here for incident command and emergency management alike, and I really like this one. You know where I'm going with it, right?

Bruce Scott:

I do, yes sir.

Bill Godfrey:

All right, why don't you go ahead and tell the group, then?

Bruce Scott:

Well, I often ask folks when I'm doing a class, "Do you know what PPE stands for?" And everybody will shake their head, nod their head, and I'll say, "Well what does it stand for?" And they'll say, "Personal protective equipment." And I go, "No, that's wrong." And they look at me like I'm stupid, right? What do you mean it's wrong? And I'll say "No, you're right. PPE does stand for Personal Protective Equipment," but when you start talking incident management, especially significant incident management, what you need PPE for is the things that are going to effect our operations the most and that's personalities, politics, and egos. And if you can eliminate those three things out of our response, you're going to be way ahead of the game.

And if I got a second here, Bill, I'd like to share with... One of the things as an incident commander you don't ever want to see coming into your incident command post is your senior elected officials. Start wandering in your command post asking questions. But the incident commander has to understand, we live in... We have forms of government in our country that our public expects our elected officials to be in charge. And we expect that. We expect them to be on the news. We expect them to be in front of the media.

Bill Godfrey:

Expect them to be engaged.

Bruce Scott:

Absolutely. But where they can engage best, often, is through emergency management. Emergency management with that executive policy group, our sheriffs and our other elected officials, if they understand they have a role and what that role is, and it's not being in the incident commander's pocket, we can both do our jobs.

Bill Godfrey:

Absolutely. So Robert, I'm going to come to you with a question and then, Steve, I'm going to come to you with a similar question. Now sanitize the details so that we're not talking about any one particular instance that... You're already grinning ear-to-ear. Can you tell us a story, tell the audience a story, about an experience that you've had one either of your many active shooter events that you've responded to or something similar where personalities, politics, and egos in the command post turned into an issue?

Robert McMahan:

Yeah, it did. And you want me to elaborate.

Bill Godfrey:

I do.

Robert McMahan:

Yeah.

Bill Godfrey:

But you can sanitize the details.

Robert McMahan:

Well, so the personalities, politics, and egos... I think the biggest one that we ever experienced was politics and having elected officials or high-level appointees try and steer or guide things, that's a polite way of saying it, to meet political agendas or political stances that certain people have. And I think this is a huge area that a good EM can head off, if he has those right relationships early on, and the politicians... In our case, it was county commissioners that ran the county. And we also had several chiefs of police and mayors. If you have a place for them to go and to be informed and the EOC's got a good situation unit running and they can come in there and talk, find out what's going on, express their views, then those things can get filtered back to the incident commander without all the personality, and politics, and egos attached to it. I think that's a good way to handle those things so that he's getting the message, but he's not getting interfered with in running the incident.

Bill Godfrey:

I think that's a real good point. Steve, any that jump out in your head? Again, remember to sanitize the details.

Stephen Shaw:

Yeah, I think it's important to remember that politics doesn't just show up with elected officials. You can have inter-agency politics. Politics between your agency and another one in your own county.

Bill Godfrey:

Good point.

Stephen Shaw:

We had an incident recently. In the area where I work, we have several different law enforcement agencies that are very close and there's actually two different law enforcement agencies that are inside my own city. So there's my city, and then two different police departments inside of that. So to make a long story short, we had an incident. It turned out to be a false alarm, but we were... My agency was running the incident on another agency's property, pretty much. But the politics came into play when we started to believe that it was maybe a false alarm. The interest shifted from community safety to we want to get stuff back open. And I think as first responders, a lot of times we feel like our community safety interest is the biggest thing, or is the most important thing, and it should trump everything else.

But I think we have to keep in mind that not everybody ultimately answers that public safety or community safety question. They have other people that are going to say, "Well why do we lose all this money over a false alarm? Why was traffic jammed up for two hours because you were clearing a building or whatever the case is?" So I think it's just important that sometimes we step back to say this person may be pushing us in a direction that we don't want to go, but there's another reason for that. And what we were talking about earlier about building those relationships ahead of time, a lot of times will head that stuff off. In my limited experience, I've kind of seen that. Good relationships on the front end usually lead to good decisions being made during the incident.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah, I think that's a really good point. You have to recognize that people from different walks are going to have different perspectives and just because it doesn't agree with our own, we shouldn't be dismissive of it. It's important to understand-

Bruce Scott:

Everybody has a role.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah, yeah. It really is.

Robert McMahan:

Those relationships can also head off attempts by people that aren't running the incident to go off and do things that aren't helpful to the incident. And we were involved in an extensive gun battle at point where an officer was killed, and we had some elected officials that... Well, one elected official that decided to go off and do something on their own. Grandstanding a bit, but it wasn't helpful to the incident and it wasn't coordinated with the incident. So having these relationships early on helps people to understand how they can help and how they can be involved and still have their involvement that they should as elected officials, but not getting outside the incident itself and not creating other problems for the community.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah, I think that's a really good point. The example that I would give, I was working for a large organization and we'd had a significant disaster that hit really... The scope and scale caught us quite by surprise. And weren't as prepared as we would have liked to have been. So we were trying to get organized and get everything stood up. The EOC was at full activation. We had our leadership team, and once it came into visibility how serious the situation was, the county manager walked into the EOC executive leadership briefing, I was the planning manager on this one, and grabs the whiteboard and says, "This is how I want the response organized." And he proceeds to give everybody his version, and he used to be a utilities manager and so when you kind of put that lens on it you understand where he was coming from.

He gives everybody his version of how the sticks and box work structure should be set up, and it's not got a single ICS term in it. It's completely foreign. It's the first time anybody's ever heard it, seen it, and I'm sitting there listening to it and I'm thinking, "This is what happens when leadership doesn't come to training." When the senior executives who have a certain amount of, shall we say, unchecked power, don't participate in the training and don't necessarily get this. And the whole room just kind of fell silent and nobody really... He says, "Any questions?" And nobody asks any questions and he puts the marker down and he walked out of the room. And the fire chief at the time kind of looked at the table, and I just kind of motioned to him and said, "Hey, give me five minutes. Let's just take a recess for five minutes and come back." And I went in the other room with a couple of the other people from my team and we sat down and we mapped out what we'd just been told by the county manager back to an ICS structure.

And so we used, for the reports and things that we gave him, because we didn't have any choice, we used the terminology that he had given us, but right below that was the terminology that everybody else was used to doing it. And it was just one of those kind of frustrating things that you don't need to come up at the time of the incident, but it just goes to show there's an awful lot of flexibility in what we do, and sometimes it can be better to try to find the path through than necessarily just resist, I guess would be the way to say that. Bruce, you got any that stick out in your head?

Bruce Scott:

Absolutely. I did want to share though, that's not unique to the community you came from. That's definitely not a unique thing. Our elected officials, their time is very important. Expect them to participate at the level of training that we may participate in is probably not realistic.

Robert McMahan:

Agreed.

Bruce Scott:

But what we can do, even it's a simple, I like to call them de-side-brief. Let that county emergency manager sit down with that... Or that emergency manager sit down with the city manager or the town council and have those 15 minute, kind of let me explain to you how we do business. And those conversations have to happen, and about the time you figure that you got it all down, then we go through another election cycle and we start all over again, right?

Bill Godfrey:

Oh yeah.

Bruce Scott:

It just never stops. The one that I'll share with you is during a hurricane response, we had pods, places for folks to come get food and water and tarps post-storm. And our elected officials took exception to the fact that there was certain areas of our town that didn't have those points of dispensing, and have those pods set ups. And even though in their part of the county, electricities were on, stores were open, so from an operational standpoint it made no sense for us to put a pod site in that part of the community.

But our elected officials insisted if we were going to give away water and food and tarps in one part of our community, we needed to do it in all the parts of our community. So we were constantly fighting that fight as opposed to we need X number of resources to execute the mission that's needed, and now we need more resources to execute the mission that our politicians have said that's what you will do. So that's my personal reflection on that. And I often ask classes, you've probably heard me say it, Bill, does politics ever effect operations? 99.9% of the folks that we are involved with will all shake their heads in the affirmative.

Bill Godfrey:

Absolutely. All right, so I think those were some great examples. Let's shift gears a little bit and talk just briefly about logistics and the types of things that emergency management can bring to bare in short order if they need to. And I want to set this stage by saying the emergency manager can not only be your best friend, but he's got a lot of people on speed dial and you're going to want access to that speed dial. So Robert, in the events that you were a part of, I know a couple of them drug out over several days or actually even beyond that, right? What were some of the things that you saw come up from a logistics need in the long term? Not just day-of, but in the things that went on.

Robert McMahan:

Well, one of our events required evacuation of an apartment complex and so we had a lot of displaced civilians, and we were able to get a shelter set up and I was involved in getting that done. The incident commander says, "I need a shelter for these plays." So I knew, right away I called the emergency manager, get a shelter, and get Red Cross over there to feed people at that shelter. And so it was very easy for me to get that done because of the work the EM had done before establishing those relationships and able to get that supplied right away. And it just went spectacularly smooth compared to everything else that went on at that incident.

So food, shelter, and even transportation. And you think of it like a mall, let's just say a mall. We know about reunification for schools, and most people are practicing that, but let's think about a mall for a minute. You got a Saturday afternoon at a mall, you have an event, and you got a bunch of teenagers at that mall. They get evacuated. We're going to need to establish a reunification for them, as well, because they're not going to be able to get to their cars. So having that EM that has those relationships and has those contracts and agreements in place that can support that is hugely important.

Bill Godfrey:

Steve, how about you?

Stephen Shaw:

Same stuff Robert talked about. Food, shelter, transportation. One thing that I did think about while he was speaking, I work in a community that has a lot of basketball NCAA type stuff, so we're heavy on EOC for preplanned events. And one of the things that the emergency managers in our county do help out a lot with is communications radios. If you get an event, even like an active shooter event, that lasts long enough you're going to have to bring some people... More than likely you're going to have to bring some people in from another jurisdiction, another area, and they may not have the same communication system as you. So we've always been able to pass out radios to these people so that we could talk to each other. Coordinating, getting those people there, giving them a place to stay, if it's something that is going to be shut down for awhile, how far are we willing to bring other police? Is it a driving distance type of thing or are we going to have to put them up for the night type of deal?

A lot of times your agency commanders or incident commanders are not going to necessarily have the time or the resources to coordinate a lot of that stuff. And you can handle it either on the county level, or the state level. And that's the biggest thing that I've noticed. So we've been running an EOC throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic, and that's one thing working with them that I've seen, they have... It's really taken a lot of pressure away from some of our town officials to pass that off to the counties and emergency management. To coordinate with the state, to coordinate with federal resources, and you could do the same thing if you have a spontaneous, like a active shooter event or a terrorist attack or whatever. Any time that you have somebody that... Or you have a lot of responders that are going to be on post for awhile, or you have logistics needs that you don't have at your agency, that's where your emergency management can come into play.

Bill Godfrey:

I'm curious, what about fencing? Does that come up as a regular issue for law enforcement when they've got a multi-day investigation? I remember it was a significant issue down at Pulse, and of course they were there for a very extended period of time, but pretty quickly brought in fencing to try to isolate the building and help them secure it a little bit better. Robert, has that come up for you before in anything you can recall?

Robert McMahan:

I haven't experienced that, but I can certainly see its value. I'm thinking wow, that would've been really smart to use at that incident. Yeah. And I think, you ask any law enforcement commander, "Where do you get some fence right now? You need 1000 yards of fence to put around this incident, where are you going to get it?" They're just going to scratch their head, they don't know. And these are the things that EMs bring to the table. Where do I get 300 radios for these other responders that I brought it? EM's probably got a cache of those, or they know where to get them. And those are the kinds of things that an EM that's worth their salt will have lined out and prepared in advance.

Bill Godfrey:

Good point. Steve, how about you? Have you had any where you guys have used fencing after the fact?

Stephen Shaw:

Not that I can recall. I know we use them a lot for the pre-planned events, the NCAA tournament games and things like that, but I don't know that we've had them for any of our spontaneous events. But yeah, I'm with Robert, I can think of a couple where it would've been nice to have some barriers up because we had a domestic incident at an elementary school one time, and it happened right in the front traffic circle of the elementary school and it was right about the time that the kids were getting ready to get released, and so we had parents that were literally walking into our crime scene on foot. We might not have been able to have it in the first couple of hours, but we did have that scene locked down for a little while, and that would've been a... I'm with Robert, and looking back on that it would've been a good thing to have there.

But yeah, it's things like that that you don't think about, and I can speak from a patrol perspective. You don't think about these things. And even as a first line supervisor, you don't think about these things a lot of times. And that's where communication comes in. And your incident commander working with your emergency manager, if you have a supervisor on the ground or even just a responder on the ground that says, "Hey, I've got 50 parents coming at me walking up wanting to get to their kid." Emergency manager might can say, "Hey, I've got some temporary barriers at this place that we can toss up real quick." I mean, that's just communication I think would help.

Bruce Scott:

Or they know how to buy it. One of the things that we talked about, they have the direct line to our elected officials, Bill, and we often talk about a local state of emergency, whether that's at the municipal level or the county level. Well what that does, if you can get that chief elected officials to declare that local state of emergency, that changes the way government can buy things 99% of the time. All right? So we don't have to go out, wait 60 days, get three quotes for fence, or wood, or in my case was lumber on a collapsed building. Where are we going to get four by four's to search a collapsed building? That local state of emergency, that emergency manager knows how to get that executed. And that local state of emergency, like I said before, changes the rules of government for a short period of time and it allows us to do things quicker than we normally could on a day-to-day basis.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah, I absolutely agree. I think my most stunning experience with emergency management, we had a... Ironically, you'd never think that this would happen. We had a large nursing... It was a 450 patient nursing home. Very, very big. Multi-stories and spread out. And it was large enough that they had very large water chiller AC units. Now, this is in Florida so you think an AC is probably a pretty important issue. And for whatever reason, the thing that broke, and I never really understood what it was, but something broke, and these things went from blowing nice, cool air, because it was the middle of summer, to blowing air out of the vents that was about 110 degree air. It just had run away hot air. And you start thinking how do you do that?

And we started having medical emergencies with the patients almost immediately. It was really a very, very difficult environment. It was very difficult to figure out how to shut these things down. And so fast forward through this, we got some folks out fairly quickly to at least get that thing shut down. But now here it is, we got the windows open. The place is super heated because of all this blowing hot air. It's summer in Florida, so it's not cooling down, and there is no place that you're going to move 450 nursing home patients on a Friday night, which is what this was. It's two in the morning on a Friday night or Saturday morning.

And I called up the emergency manager and the county manager and I go... Well I think I said, "Y'all ain't going to believe this shit." But I said, "I need large commercial 40-ton, 50-ton AC units to be brought in to take over for this thing," because the thing that broke could not be fixed. They had to get a part in and couldn't make it work. So four hours later, here comes three or four semi-trucks, and I forget how many pickup trucks full of crews with this loaded, heavy-duty AC equipment, these huge generators. I never did see how much that cost, but I'm going to guess it was a big number.

Bruce Scott:

I would imagine so.

Stephen Shaw:

Yeah.

Bruce Scott:

While you were talking about it, Bill, I just jotted real quick some of the things that emergency management help with here. Some of it we already mentioned, but I think... We start talking about active shooter situations, and we've broached the conversations recently about civil unrest, some of things we're facing. You start talking about curfews, restrictions of alcohol sales, restrictions of gun sales, those are not incident commander decisions. Those are elected officials, those are political decisions that have to be made. Again, we kind of talked in circles about it, but that relationship that happens between the emergency manager and our chief elected officials to be able to execute those things when we're actually taking away people's rights to a certain extent, that's the only way that can happen. The incident commander can not order a curfew. The incident commander can not order the restriction of gun or alcohol sales. They can not order an evacuation. Those are all done by our chief elected officials. So that relationship has to exist if we get in that posture.

Bill Godfrey:

I'm curious, Bruce, I'm with you right there because we're both out of the Florida gig. Was that the same rules for you in Colorado?

Bruce Scott:

Yeah, pretty much. We had to have elected officials involved to enact those declared emergencies. And even then, for evacuations it was tough, but all those political hot topics come into play with these events and it is not time to work them out at the event or with the incident commander. Those policies and decisions have to be driven through the EM. Not by the EM, but through the EM, to get the right message out to the community because they're also going to be communicating to the community, as well. Some of these things that are going on behind the scene.

Bill Godfrey:

Steve, how about you? Do you know is that kind of the same general way it is in North Carolina, as well?

Stephen Shaw:

It is. We will actually... We can declare local emergencies, and we'll a lot of times do those for preplanned events which will allow us to do things like set up checkpoints on the street, restrict, like Bruce was saying, alcohol sales, time and things like that. But yeah, same thing. We've got to have elected officials make that decision to say, "We're going to take this limited amount of people's freedom away."

Bill Godfrey:

So I think this has been a great conversation. A little bit wide-ranging as we pulled from some of our history, but in some ways I wanted to get those examples out even though they didn't necessarily fit active shooter events just to kind of illustrate some of the challenges that can come up. Let's go around, last thoughts. Bruce, what are the takeaways that you want our audience to get out of this?

Bruce Scott:

I think the takeaways are involve your emergency managers in every aspect of your active shooter planning and training, all right? Let them help you solve the problem. And also use them... Both Robert and Steve said, if you start getting in these postures where you're making these political decisions, there's a really good chance that emergency manager has the JIC plan, the joint information center plan, so we can make sure that law enforcement, fire, EMS, public works, everybody's putting out that same message. So use them to help you broadcast that message, but incorporate them into your training just like your typical first responders, and make sure they're included. Find out what they're capabilities are and what their capacity is, not just their capabilities but also their capacity.

Bill Godfrey:

Robert, final thoughts?

Robert McMahan:

Yeah, for law enforcement and fire, and when you think about in terms of active shooter incident management, think what that emergency manager is doing with those city or county officials all the time. They are preparing disaster plans, they're preparing disaster recovery plans, they're also providing incident management system-type training for those elected officials as a matter of law and policy in those areas. So make sure that they're incorporating this type of event in those plans and policies and training.

Bill Godfrey:

Stephen?

Stephen Shaw:

Bruce mentioned getting your emergency managers involved in training. I would say for the first responders, get involved in emergency management.

Bill Godfrey:

I like that.

Stephen Shaw:

I can think of several times during my career where we've had EOC set up for snow storms, or hurricanes, or floods, and they go around briefing. You come into work patrol and they said, "Hey, we need somebody to go up to the EOC and work the radio." And everybody kind of hides their heads or whatever, but I did that a couple times and it really opened up my eyes about what EOC's are about, what emergency managers do, and I think that's something that... You might be a patrol officer today. You go work that EOC, or you work with your emergency manager, but one day down the road you might find yourself as an incident commander on one of these scenes and it would be helpful to know what these people are capable of and what they can bring to the table. And that day may come sooner than you think. You might just find yourself there one day.

Robert McMahan:

That's a ESF13 position, isn't it?

Stephen Shaw:

Yeah.

Bill Godfrey:

Well said, Steve. I think for me, my final thought would be incorporate your emergency manager at the command post. And certainly for active shooter events, but I would actually say for any event of consequence, get in the habit of having an EM, emergency management liaison, in the command post with you so that they get a chance to learn what's going on at your command post and you get a chance to learn what they can do and what they can bring to make life a little bit better for everybody. Well gentlemen, thank you very much for taking the time to come together. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for listening to this podcast. If you have not subscribed to the podcast, please hit the subscribe button on whatever device you're listening on. And if you have any suggestions for us for topics that you'd like us to discuss, please email them to us at info@c3pathways.com. That's info@c3pathways.com. Thank you very much, and until the next time, stay safe.

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