Presentation by Michael Gresalfi

Preparing for Extreme Events: A Whole Community
Approach to Emergency Management
Michael J. Gresalfi, Ph.D.
Senior Advisor, Whole Community & CBRNE
January 18, 2012
Whole Community: A Philosophy for Emergency Management
To meet existing challenges in the emergency management environment,
government is moving towards a philosophy that builds upon the strengths of public
partners and local communities: an effort FEMA refers to as Whole Community
The focus of Whole Community is to foster development of a community-oriented
model for emergency management that increases the resilience of communities
– Resilience refers to the ability to adapt to changing conditions and to withstand
and rapidly recover from disruption due to emergencies
The Whole Community philosophy is based on three principles:
Understand and meet the
actual needs of the whole
Engage all aspects of the
community to define and
address essential life-saving
and sustaining needs
Strengthen community
assets, institutions and
social processes that work
well in communities on a
daily basis
The Emergency Management Environment
The environment for conducting emergency management is continuously evolving
and presents new challenges as a result of greater interdependencies
FEMA’s Strategic Plan refers to nine unique “drivers of change” that will both impact
the global strategic environment and likely result in various emergency management
Drivers of Change
1. Changing Role of the Individual
2. Changing Climate
3. Aging Infrastructure
4. Evolving Terrorist Threats
5. Global Interdependencies
6. Government Budgets
7. Technical Dependencies
8. Universal Access to Information
9. Demographic Shifts
Emergency Management Challenges
Government at all levels has limited
capabilities to manage disasters and cannot
solve existing disaster management
challenges on its own
In large scale disasters, the needs of
survivors will likely outweigh the collective
resources contributed by government at all
The present emergency management system
is not designed to effectively support all
phases of large and/or complex multi-state
Community Involvement is Essential During Extreme Events
Extreme “catastrophic” incidents require a much broader set of
partners within the impact area to accomplish response core
capabilities than those routinely addressed for disasters we
anticipate and plan for.
Community involvement is needed to provide life saving and
sustaining support to emergency response personnel , either
as the primary or back-up source of manpower in the first
hours and days following a catastrophic incident.
Legal, policy, and regulatory waivers/exemptions/exceptions
will be required to achieve the response “core capabilities”.
The Meta-Scenario
In order to anticipate catastrophic requirements and to avoid narrow focus on a
limited number of specific scenarios, the Whole Community methodology is built
upon a foundation of a meta-scenario consisting of the maximum of maximum
challenges across a range of scenarios
No-notice event
Impact area
– ~7 million population
– 25,000 square miles
– Several states and FEMA regions
190,000 fatalities in initial hours
265,000 citizens require emergency medical attention
Severe damage to critical infrastructure and key resources
Severe damage to essential transportation infrastructure
– Ingress/egress options limited
A Re-Cap of the Whole Community Initiative
 Whole Community “Meta-Scenario” Developed
 Response Core Capabilities Identified
 Objectives, Tasks, and Goals of each Core Capability Identified
 Emergency Support Leadership Group (ESFLG) Engaged
 Whole Community Steering Committee Established
 ESFLG Whole Community Working Group Formed
 13 Core Capabilities and 4 Cross- Cutting Working Groups Stood Up (850 people)
 Information Analysis and Courses of Action (COAs) Completed (Draft)
 NLE 2011 conducted with injects to challenge Whole Community Approach
 FEMA Strategic Plan highlights Catastrophic Preparedness Key Initiatives
 Presidential Policy Directive #8 (PPD-8) Incorporates Whole Community Approach
Whole Community: Advantages
The Whole Community approach to emergency management is vital to keeping
public partners and communities safe, and to preventing the loss of life and property
when disasters strike
Adopting a Whole Community philosophy presents a number of advantages
Advantages of a Whole Community Philosophy
1. Creates more capable, adaptive, and resilient communities by engaging and
incorporating all community members into emergency management
2. Enables the delivery of services more efficiently by partnering with groups and
individuals active in the impacted communities
3. Ensures disasters will be managed more effectively by leveraging resources from
all segments of society
“A Whole Community model that works to strengthen local collective action, public
engagement, and neighborhood institutions offers an effective path not only to building
resilience, but to helping local communities become integral members of the emergency
management team” - FEMA Strategic Plan FY 2011-2014
Whole Community and PPD-8: Moving Forward In Tandem
• Working primarily through our Regions, fully engage all elements of
communities (large and small) and increase involvement and shared
ownership in moving WC principles into practice.
• Fully integrate policy, external affairs, response, recovery, mitigation
and others at HQ and across the regions, in fostering a WC
approach to emergency management.
• Build the nation’s capacity to respond to, stabilize and recover from
a catastrophic event, by first assessing, identifying, and then closing
response and recovery deltas associated with WC/PPD-8 response
core capabilities.
• Together the WC Steering Committee and FEMA’s Regional
Administrators provide leadership in meeting Whole Community and
PPD-8 critical objectives and outcomes.
Your Guidance and Advice Is Requested
 How might attract new community-level partners in closing
core capability gaps, and identifying innovative solutions?
 How might we better understand the current state of
community resilience, and how to advance such resilience?
 How might we identify emergency response best practices
across the nation, and then foster mentor-protégé’s links?
Michael Gresalfi, Ph.D.,
Senior Advisor for Whole Community and CBRNE
202-302-5179 [email protected]

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