A look back in 2011

Welcome back to another installment of my blog.  I trust you enjoyed a safe and happy Thanksgiving.  Ours was terrific.  Like you we have much to be thankful for.  And now we sit just 21 days away from Christmas and 28 days from a New Year.  I refuse to think it’s an age thing, but I’m continually amazed at how fast time seems to fly by.

I thought I’d take the opportunity with this blog posting to reflect back on the year with respect to Business Continuity, Emergency Management, and Leadership.  Of course this won’t be an exhaustive or all inclusive list, just a few key observations.

Emergency Management

Here in the St. Louis area we started the year off on the wrong foot thanks to Mother Nature.  It was on New Year’s Eve 2010 that a tornado hit the Sunset Hills community which lies about 20 miles southwest of the City of St. Louis.  It wasn’t a large tornado, nor did it do extensive damage.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think the incident even qualified for a Presidential Disaster Declaration.  But, it was a tornado that  did damage, and in some cases destroyed some residences as well as some small businesses.

From there things got interesting the first half of the year.  We had the spring tornados that hit Alabama and up the southeast.  In St. Louis again, we had the tornado that hit Lambert International Airport (which is still under repair).  And who could forget the Joplin, Missouri tornado that was so devastating.  I feel very blessed to say that I was able to deploy with the Eureka Fire Protection District’s Search and Rescue Team to help with local recovery efforts.

It wasn’t just tornados that caused problems either.  On one end of the spectrum we had significant flooding in several parts of the country and on the other hand we had the draught in Texas and the southwest.  Oh yeah, and remember the earthquake that hit Washington D.C.?

Fortunately, it was a relatively quiet hurricane season.

Finally, while it wasn’t in the United States, we also must remember the Japanese earthquake that caused the tsunami, which in turn caused a nuclear disaster.

Back in the United States, the economic toll on FEMA was so great as a result of all the disasters that took place that the agency was forced to reallocate funding … because there just wasn’t enough to go around.  Additionally, this year, we’ve seen a decline in Homeland Security funding.  As we lived through the 10th anniversary of the tragic World Trade Center bombing, debate existed and questions raised as to whether or not we (the United States) are more secure today following the investment of over $600 million dollars of homeland security grant money over the 10 year period.  Only those with more knowledge and insight than I have can answer those questions intelligently.  However, from my experiences I believe we’ve fallen short by not having an adequately funded strategy that made citizen preparedness training a priority.  In a recent discussion posting on a groups page in LinkedIn, I suggested our government out to look at combining the former Project Impact with UASI-like funding and include Citizen Corps.  Now that combination would lead to a better prepared America!

Business Continuity

Business Continuity remains a vital business function for those companies astute enough to recognize it’s intrinsic value.  When you think about it, business continuity has only been around a short time.  And today, when you look at its core, the philosophy and strategies remain a strong foundation.  We still talk about the need for executive support.  We know Risk Assessment and Business Impact Analysis (BIA) are the drivers.  In the planning process we need to look at things like dependencies, Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO).  Once plans are written they must be exercised, updated, and maintained in order to be effective.  We still have hot sites

We also know that gaining commitment is difficult which translates into we have to fight for every budget dollar we get and we never get enough.  Our management teams still have to be reminded that yes, bad things can happen to us and we must be ready.  If we aren’t, the business will suffer.

We’ve seen standards become an industry strategy that even the government was to get in to.  FEMA rolled out PS-PREP earlier this year.   While geared to small and medium-sized businesses it leverages three different standards (ASIS SPC.1-2009 Organizational Resilience: Security Preparedness, and Continuity Management System, British Standard 25999-2:2007 Business Continuity Management (which is being replaced by ISO 22301), and the National Fire Protection Association 1600:2007/2010 Standard on Disaster / Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs).  My question is this, is our industry so complex that we really need three different standards?  Is one REALLY BETTER than another?  Perhaps that will be the ISO standard?  Time will tell.

So what’s new?  I think technology, and how we leverage it, is certainly one, if not the biggest changes.  For small example, “the cloud”.  From software, to hardware, to storage, it seems as though the cloud can do it all!  Can it?  As business continuity experts, we need to work closely with our technology experts to stay ahead of this constantly challenging curve and define how current (and emerging) technology can strengthen our business continuity capabilities.  And it’s not just IT-related.  We need to look at the various tools we use from planning software to notification systems, even down to our individual smart phones.  How can we use technology to be stronger?

Leadership

I have to start off by recognizing the passing of Steve Jobs.  Jobs was a visionary who, like Thomas Edison and other great inventors, helped changed the way we live today.

I also have to make mention of what seems to be a loss of leadership in our government across all parties.  It’s very discouraging today to see how our elected “leaders” are leading our country.  It doesn’t seem like anyone is really interested in working together for the betterment of our great country.  Nobody is taking ownership and instead, everyone is pointing fingers.

It’s also sad to see what’s developing on a few of our college campuses with respect to so called leaders within college athletic departments.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are many more good and decent leaders then there are bad ones.  It’s just that the bad ones seem to be in the news all too often.

We need to encourage strong moral leadership.  We need to encourage those leaders that understand it’s more important to do what’s right for the greater good rather than for themselves.  We need to applaud leaders who are able to bring diverse groups together and get them to all work together and moving in the same direction.  We should look for opportunities to develop, coach, and mentor those interested in leading.

Personally

This year has been another great year for me personally and professionally.  As I look back, professionally I have had the opportunity to become active on the Eureka Fire Protection District’s Search and Rescue Team (www.efpd.org  , or look for us on Facebook).  In one of my earlier blogs, I wrote about our deployment to Joplin, Mo.  As the Training Lead for the team, I’ve been working on our 2012 training calendar.  Additionally, in October 2012, our team will be hosting the 15th Annual Canine Search and Recovery (CSAR) Seminar.

Just recently, I accomplished a dream I’ve had and, I wasn’t disappointed.  I was able to teach a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course for FEMA at the Emergency Management Institute in Emmittsburg, MD.  I also have previous posts about this great experience.

Here locally, as President of the MidAmerica Contingency Planning Forum (MCPF) I was able to work with our Board of Directors and run a full year’s worth of programs that proved valuable to our members.  Additionally, we were able to incorporate the organization as a 501-C3 Not-for-Profit organization, contract with a vendor to build our own dedicated website that I hope will be online the first of 2012, and we had our first ever Vendor Expo.  With these strong deliverables in place, along with a strong educational program, I see 2012 as a growth year for the MCPF.

Well, I wish you good luck with your holiday shopping.  And as always, stay safe!

TIP:  Make sure you include preparedness items and leadership books on your Christmas list, or when you are thinking of a gift to give someone else.  I mean who doesn’t need another flashlight!

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One Response to A look back in 2011

  1. lildirect says:

    Happy New Year, Tim.

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