Three Factors for Success to Work Towards the National Preparedness Goal

The FEMA National Preparedness Goal outlines that local, state, tribal, and Federal partners as well as non-governmental partners (such as the private sector, faith-based, and non-profit organizations) aim to achieve “A secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.” At Corner Alliance, we have observed a few key success factors to build a collaborative multi-discipline, multi-jurisdiction homeland security framework, as well as a few consequences of not operating this way that we’d like to share: #1: Institutionalizing coordination. Homeland security and public safety agencies are often faced with limited manpower resulting in limited time to dedicate to making coordination a part of daily business for all experience levels of an agency (not just senior management officials). We have observed that everyone benefits when leadership ensures that all staff have an appropriate cross-discipline, cross-jurisdiction lens. It may even seem like an ‘extra’ phone call or meeting but in the long-run it actually saves time toward building capacity for planning and operations.

#2 Partnership-building with organizations versus individuals. The value of relationship building is acknowledged as a key to the homeland security field, but it is often viewed as part of the “softer side” or as an indirect positive outcome of the years put in by senior management. It is our observation that relationships are often individual, or on a one-to-one basis, versus with an entire organization. This can be limiting as time goes on and leadership retires while the more junior management staff is learning the value of crucial relationships. If relationship building is a formal part of professional development in this field, it will serve everyone and serve incident response. Strong organizational relationships are often lauded as one of the key success factors of the Pentagon 9/11 response. 

#3: Understanding how diverse emergency support functions make the entire system stronger. From emergency management to law enforcement to fire/rescue to public health to hospitals to public safety communications—there is a common mission, but very distinct roles are needed to meet this mission. The cross-pollination of knowledge of ‘what can you help me with when %&$! hits the fan?’ and ‘did you know I can help you with [insert situational awareness, traffic management, security detail, analysis of symptoms, 50 cots, pediatric IVs, etc.] when %&$! hits the fan!’ strengthens the seams of response and ultimately enhances safety across our communities.

The following consequences may be on the horizon when these golden rules are not in play:

  • Operational plans, policies, and procedures of some agencies may not be in alignment with other agencies and this may impact a large-scale response.
  • Key partners may not be aware of projects, updates, and opportunities that may support their mission.
  • Agencies may miss out on opportunities to achieve more with less resources by working together to tackle common issues together.
  • Partners are sometimes forgetful or are hesitant to engage colleagues from other disciplines or ESFs if they are not 100% clear about how they can help.

What success factors do you think are most important for achieving our National Preparedness Goal?