Why Connecting Local, State, and Federal Government Efforts is a Major Key to Achieving More Resilient Communities

Building on one of my last posts, focused on key messages to share to support the shift to a culture of preparedness, I wanted to share a few observations on improving the government’s role in this shift to support more resilient communities nationwide. There are currently a few really big issues that with iterative progress and even some quick and public wins, can make a tremendous difference in how government—from local to state to Federal—executes and is perceived to tackle this wicked societal issue. Ensuring local and state requirements are driving Federal guidance/doctrine: I have observed a major shift toward the bottom-up approach over the last fifteen years and believe that if Federal programs can continue to institutionally design program missions and processes that are driven by the community and response partners (instead of a cool new whiz-bang technology that may not meet their requirements), tremendous strides will be made to perpetuating a more resilient society. These types of Federal programs (such as the DHS S&T First Responder Group and FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Division) exist, and they are successful at making iterative improvements for our collective resilience, but they don’t always make the front page of the news. One idea to support this process would be to ramp up the sharing of success stories—especially with community partners from mission-similar non-profits, faith-based communities and local and state government partners—and then replicate successes nationwide. Policy is only words on a paper until it is executed and touches its intended audience and makes an impact. Frequently, this communication of impact and value is lost somewhere along the process.

Local communities understanding Federal government resources to enact Federal policy: In the same vein of the issue above, local communities and government often are in the loop on Federal guidance that impacts and supports them, such as the more recent guidance and requirements around the Threat and Hazard Identification Risk Assessment (THIRA). However, there may be a gap in the local communities’ understanding of how Federal resources can support the local community’s successful alignment and execution of policy and guidance. For the THIRA, there is a comprehensive guide that takes the reader through the five - step process with clear examples to support this analysis that every Region of the US should consider for enhanced preparedness.

Connecting neighbors to strengthen the regional approach: Another key area to build more resilient communities is the focused connection of neighboring localities and community organizations as part of a regional approach. In a disaster, the fastest mutual aid always comes from one’s neighbors. If Fire/EMS agencies are using the same operational SOPs for a mass casualty incident that crosses jurisdiction lines and long-term care facilities are relying on each other first (before the hospitals or state partners) for a surge event, the entire system of resilience is strengthened.

There are several communities nationwide collaborating and achieving true results, such as the Northern Virginia Emergency Response System. They are working to train and equip all local and state law enforcement patrol units and all local fire/EMS units with life-saving tactical emergency casualty care equipment, in the event they are critically wounded, to the San Francisco Bay Area. Furthermore, they are offering a preparedness website template for other jurisdictions to build upon with the theme of preparedness for 72 hours: www.sf72.org. Continuing and expanding the regional approach is a smart practice to maximize shrinking resources to continue to build community resilience.

What are additional ideas or success stories that can help build community resilience?