Thursday, November 17, 2011

Exercise Design & Development. Paradigm Shift. Front-End vs Back-End

When I think of our discussion on the paradigm shift.  I reflected back on what we were initially taught regarding CBRN training during the Cold War years in the military, which changed (paradigm shift) when we became actively involved in the process.

How often did we think that an entire base would be slimmed.

How inaccurate were many of the things we were taught, that became invalid. With the paradigm shift for initial response.  This is a view from the individual response level, which will change once experienced individuals that have input into the paradigm interacts with those in the planning phase that the current established paradigm(s) are not functional within the current framework. 

Many of the developers of these systems (strategic thinkers, PhD, research, etc.) have probably never been thru the actual experience that they're recommending for others to perform.

A prime example of a paradigm shift that needs to be incorporated involves the consideration of the effort, costs, and training on the initial responder, and leadership level of disasters\incidents with vs. the community level in exercise design & development.

Something I refer to as front-end (leadership, 1st responder, etc), and back-end (community, long-term recovery, etc).
Since 911, what has been the amount of costs in exercise design & development, after-action reports, and long-term planning at the front-end vs. the back-end?  
Under the DHS\FEMA leadership, and the current executive administration under President Obama emphasis has been placed on a 'whole community' approach with major emphasis on the community.  

The news media is quick to point out the errors and breakdown in leadership on the response and recovery phase, but whole community involvement is the key to full recovery in a timely fashion, the news media should change their prespective to a whole community approach to increase community involvement in all aspects of the emergency management process.

We as emergency managers know what responders (fire, law enforcement, and EMS) will do up to 90% of the time during a disaster\incident, but what will all the coordinated entities and the community do for the long-term recovery of a community?

Planning, and exercising at the community level will bring about fast recovery of the community.

If you review the message traffic following the tornadoes and flooding from the past few months, the paradigm shift has been focusing more on recovery of the 'whole community'.  During my tenure as the emergency management inspector with the USAF ACC, emphasis was on the individual at the bottom-level and how the planning, and the exercises were designed for them to recover over the long term.  We knew, and know how the upper command structure would react and plan, but how did the command structure planning for the lower levels of the organization (community) to recover from an event take place, and who and what were involved.

Exercises are designed to end (ENDEX) at some point within the recovery phase.  But, should exercises now focus on the long-term recovery from a scenario and build the scenario from the recovery phase with alternatives during the long-term recovery. 

I'd say YES!  Let's work backward in the scenario from the long-term recovery phase.  Costs containment, physical and psychology trauma of the community can be responded to with needed resources.  It's not just a matter of throwing disaster assistance money to those affected, by innovative planning and response.

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