Managing Homeland Security

You were recently selected as the Emergency Management Coordinator for a . Your position didn’t exist in that city before you came along. You have been asked to submit a couple page write up for the city’s quarterly newsletter to explain just what emergency management is and what the function of the coordinator is. Draft a two-page explanation of what it is that you will be doing for the fair citizens of your community. )

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Emergency management in general is a program or plan that coordinates efforts of all available agencies and individuals to ensure that a community is capable of responding to and possibly preventing disasters that may occur in the wake of natural or man made disasters: floods, fires, earthquakes, extreme inclement weather, building or facility explosions, terrorist attacks, aircraft hijackings or other events that though unforeseen and unexpected require concise and rapid response to ensure that additional damage, in the form of loss of life or property is mitigated as much as possible. The national trend is to ensure the ability of every community to provide; Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery from disasters of any kind. It has been recognized by this community as well as all others in the U.S. that emergency management is a top priority, as recent events such as the September 11th terrorist attacks and the massive weather related disasters such as Hurricane Ike and Katrina, that all communities, no matter how large or how small need to be in direct communication with and collaboration with larger agencies and organizations that assist in emergency prevention and relief programs. Part of that commitment and realization includes the need of every community to have local Emergency Management offices and Coordinators. (Daniels, 2007, p. 16) as the Emergency Management Coordinator, I will serve to help the community, through communications, training opportunities and collaboration between all the stakeholders in the community and outside it, with the development and potential implementation of emergency plans. My office will serve as a hub of information and will hold master, completed copies of disaster plans as well as additional forms of technological backup systems, should a disaster cripple the city with regard to emergency communication.

An Emergency Management Coordinator is the hub of information and communication for all stakeholders in preparing and implementing emergency protocols. Stakeholders are as follows:

City and County Government Agencies: Police department, County Sheriffs Department and support personnel associated with law enforcement, Fire department, City Council

Office of the Mayor, City and County Resource Management Departments and All public and private utility companies

State and : State and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies

Office of the Governor, Offices of the State Senators and U.S. Senators, Office of the President, the National Guard, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, State Department of Human Services: State Health department, unemployment office and all subsequent providers of temporary or long-term access to individual resources during troubled times, such as emergency food, shelter, and triage or preventative medical care like vaccinations, (this category may also include private providers of emergency services and goods, like food banks or any land owner or public administrator of a building that contains an emergency shelter of any kind)

All major health care facilities: Hospital Emergency departments and emergency medical response agencies, the Local and National Red Cross

All Area schools: Public and Private

Local and National News Agencies

But most importantly the Public of this community

(2. As the Emergency Management Coordinator in the above city, you have quickly learned that the police chief and the fire chief do not get along. Both believe their respective departments are at the top of the public safety food chain. Further, the two local hospitals are both privately owned– one for profit and one non-profit, religiously owned. Heretofore, the city has had very little contact with the hospitals other than when the hospitals have had land-use requests. In short, you realize none of the key players in an emergency are talking to each other. What strategies might you pursue to change this? Explain thoroughly.)

The development of a communications plan as well as an interagency meeting is an essential first step in dealing with any such communications failure. Each agency head will be contacted privately to outline the national strategy of Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery and how every player is essential in this process. Each individual meeting will then be closed with a list of suggested times and dates for a proposed collective meeting with the four stakeholders who are involved. Regardless of any breakdowns of communications in the past it will be made clear to all parties that this is a new day and that all historical differences need to be set aside for the common goal of emergency preparedness.

Hurricane Katrina exposed major weaknesses in government emergency management, including disaster mitigation and response and relief procedures. Inadequate planning led to critical problems regarding food delivery, medical supplies, personnel, communication networks, and evacuation assistance. (Depoorter, 2006, p. 101)

Each party will be reminded of the shame and frustration associated with the post-event outcomes of confusion and lack of preparedness following this nation’s most recent disasters and that to mitigate this event in the future and reduce loss of life and property as well as to ensure the dissemination of emergency and support services following these disasters all parties must work together. It is my responsibility to make sure that this community is well prepared for any disaster event and key buy in from all four of these corners of essential service must be present and accounted for in planning and response. Each party will also be informed that without his or her voice the community needs they offer will be lacking and this is an unacceptable outcome. (Depoorter, 2006, p. 101)

(3. Consider the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), its organization, and its strategic plans (which are available at Write up a critique (pros and cons) of DHS as it is presently constituted. Is it organized properly for its missions? Are its missions appropriate and logically tied together? You may wish to use a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), or you can craft your critique in some other way.)


The strengths of the DHS are clearly evident in the rapid manner that it was able to structure existing agencies and services to administer the strategic plan of providing protection for the U.S. from foreign harm and domestic disasters. The structure of the organization, as well as community “grassroots” reporting systems offer the agency significant years of expertise, associated with all facets of its mission and strategic plans. (U.S. Department of Homeland Security “Structure,” 2008,


The structure and function of the DHS is one that includes many parties, all of whom have both shared and variant ambitions and perspectives on the needs, resources and development of strategic planning. This leaves the agency, in the absence of intense communications standards in a position to have many heads on one serpent. (U.S. Department of Homeland Security “Structure,” 2008, (“Mending Homeland Security,” 2005, p. B05) (“Mending Homeland Security,” 2005, p. B05)


DHS is in a transitional period, which will likely see it streamline functions and offices as well as provide and produce better communication to administer and continue to develop national and local best practices for emergency prevention and preparedness. (U.S. DHS Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2008 — 2013, 2008,


The single largest threat to DHS is that it will fail in its mission to streamline and collaborate to provide planning and risk reduction of the highest possible quality. The DHS has many departments and agencies that overlap in responsibility and expertise and yet likely have differing missions and strategic goals. This is a huge potential threat to the development and running of the department as it can easily create breakdowns and inefficiencies in administration. (U.S. DHS Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2008 — 2013, 2008, (“Mending Homeland Security,” 2005, p. B05)

(4. How has terrorism and the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) impacted the field of emergency management and disaster planning in your opinion? Why do you think so? Do you believe that the threat of terrorism on a small or large scale should be an emergency manager’s primary concern over other types of disasters? Does it make a difference as to what type of community the emergency manager operates from? How so?)

Weapons of mass destruction and their use are unlikely contingencies that can serve the purpose of creating disproportionate resource allocation and fear, yet their existence and potential use must also be planned for and acted upon. The DHS for example was created specifically to help protect the nation for terrorist attack, domestic or foreign and yet the nation soon realized that more frequent and enduring threats come in the form of natural disasters and that system was ailing. The DHS then incorporated the need to prepare and strategize for disasters other than those created by violence (U.S. DHS “Strategic Plan,” 2008, Realistically acts of terrorism, domestic or foreign are exceedingly rare, though slightly more common than they have been in the past and at least marginally more violent in nature, they occur very, very rarely. (Lewis, 2000, p. 201) Though maintaining serious preparedness the mitigation of natural disasters, most which cannot be avoided is an issue needed to be addressed almost yearly, on both small and large scales, across the nation and is much more likely to directly effect people and resources on an intimate level and should be the Emergency Management system’s first and primary concern! Though worst possible case scenarios, regarding the use of WMDs is important it is not where all the resources should go.

(5. In the course, you have been introduced to the various responsibilities of different levels of government in the homeland security effort. What level of government do you believe should be primarily responsible for securing the homeland? In what ways is homeland security confounded by our federalist system (i.e. shared power by states and federal government)? With 50 state government, 3000+ county governments, 16000 township governments, 20000 municipal governments, and tens of thousands more special district governments (i.e. park districts, school districts, etc.), is it even possible to have effective management and delivery of homeland security? How so?)

It is abundantly clear that there are countless challenges related to collaboration and communication with regard to homeland security and the thousands of agencies and governments that have a hand in the responsibility of protecting people and resources form disasters of all kinds. It is difficult to believe that effective management of any single or collective aspect of homeland security is possible given the staggering number of governments and voices that exist in this nation. Yet it is also clear that there must be some sort of oversight with regard to jurisdictional responsibilities. It is for this reason that state and county governments should share the responsibility of planning and application as all need to be aware of each others needs and understandings given the occurrence of a disaster, with federal oversight. City involvement needs to be as subsidiary to these other voices, as they are key stakeholders but are also not capable of retaining all control as they number in the tens of thousands. (Hulnick, 2004, p. 102) Creating additional bureaucratic positions in severely taxed city environments (in a slowed economy) is essentially ensuring not only the failure of homeland security but also the potential failure of the cities themselves.


Daniels, R.S. (2007). Revitalizing Emergency Management after Katrina: A Recent Survey of Emergency Managers Urges Improved Response, Planning, and Leadership and a Reinvigorated FEMA — the Federal Government Has Responded by Making Most of the Recommended Changes. The Public Manager, 36(3), 16.

Department of Homeland Security Website

Depoorter, B. (2006). Horizontal Political Externalities: The Supply and Demand of Disaster Management. , 56(1), 101.

Hulnick, a.S. (2004). Keeping Us Safe: Secret Intelligence and Homeland Security. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Lewis, C.W. (2000). The Terror That Failed: Public Opinion in the Aftermath of the Bombing in Oklahoma City. Public Administration Review, 60(3), 201.

Mending Homeland Security. (2005, February 27). The Washington Times, p. B05.