«Private Sector's Emerging Role in Emergency Management » Essay Sample

Private Sector

Nowadays, the development and realization of various emergency management initiatives draw much attention because they provide effective response to emergency situations and natural disasters, assure the continuity of operations, and mitigate negative impacts. The current work will focus on the depiction of the interaction between the private sector and governmental institutions, with these two subjects being the main contributors to emergency response. Considerable emphasis will be laid on the ways of addressing the needs of employees and the infrastructure, providing business continuity, collaboration with emergency personnel, effective communication, and ensuring the most effective form of preparation. As the concepts under analysis are rather broad, they are introduced in the form of general response and complemented by specific examples. The general description of these concepts provides the understanding of the significant role of the private sector and its specifications in emergency management.

In What Ways Does the Private Sector Address the Needs of its Employees, Infrastructure, and Facilities?

The private sector addresses the needs of its employees, infrastructure, and facilities in numerous ways. They are identified judging by available resources, previous emergency experience, interrelations with stakeholders, governmental institutions, and non-governmental organizations as well as the effectiveness of development and realization of the emergency management strategy, leadership and teamwork inside the organization, etc. The current work will specify the ways of addressing the needs of employees, infrastructure, and facilities along with the ways of the private sector involvement in disaster management.

Accordingly, one of the most effective methods is “the development of consistency support by actively trying to increase the resource base of all local agencies—not just their own”. This way is based on the understanding that the efficiency of emergency response greatly depends not only on the preparedness of a single organization, but on the joint response provided by all involved parties. This strategy is realized through the involvement of various community organizations with the help of committees and joint ventures. The improvement of the resource base is closely linked with the establishment of memorandums of agreements and other similar documents between various parties of the emergency response.  Usually, close interrelationships are formed between the private sector and emergency-relevant agencies rather than between the private sector and elected officials. The example of such interaction is the cooperation with LEMA (the Local Emergency Management Agency). The private sector may also cooperate with mass media providers in order to enhance public education and inform the public about the hazards and emergency situations. In addition, private organizations can also use such traditional shelters and recovery funders as churches through their integration into response and recovery planning. 

Some private organizations may choose a different way of addressing emergency situations avoiding any linkage with the preparedness network. This network usually encompasses verbal and written agreements as well as informal contacts. It is considered to be rather ineffective because the private sector cannot use the resources, finance, knowledge, and experience of other organizations and, therefore, relies only on its own efforts. These efforts are reflected in the development of emergency response and recovery plans, allocation of resources, assignment of a responsible individual (or group of individuals), improvement of employees' awareness, etc.

In some cases, the second way can be more beneficial than the first one. For example, during Hurricane Katrina disaster, the private company Wal-Mart performed more effective preparations and emergency event response than FEMA. This organization preliminarily purchased 10,000 seven-gallon plastic jags which can be used for the storage of water and gasoline, made $ 20 million in cash donations, supplied 100,000 meals and 1,500 truckloads for free merchandise. The greater effectiveness of the private sector's response is based on the significant resources of the organization, high-quality emergency management, and enormous desire to help common people. Additional attention should be paid to the coordination of actions reflected in the fast allocation of products and commodities.  For example, the official response agency even disapproved of some of Wal-Mart’s actions. FEMA turned back the three trucks of water delivered by the organization. This case shows the discrepancy in actions that leads to the waste of resources.

Takako Izumi and Rajib Shaw (2015) specified the ways of the private sector's involvement in the management of emergency situations. They are the following: direct assistance to communities, disaster preparedness of private organizations, development of innovative technologies, products, and expertise, establishment of non-governmental organizations, trusts, and private foundations, and the formation of joint projects with non-governmental organizations and governmental institutions. The above-mentioned ways considerably help to improve the preparation and response of communities, organizations, and infrastructures.

How does the Private Sector Ensure Business Continuity for the Corporate and Industrial Settings?

Business continuity for the corporate and industrial settings is ensured through the application of common criteria for security introduced in American National Standard ASIS SPC.1-2009. This standard guarantees that the organizational and industrial settings will be able to continue their recovery operations in the cases of abnormal operating conditions.

Private organizations are obliged to take a number of steps in order to ensure business continuity. They include the following: planning of actions, tactical implementation, checking, and management review. Before the realization of these steps, the organization should clearly establish its policy, objectives, and strategies for performing particular actions. They should be directed at the prevention and deterrence of the risk of emergency situations, ensuring continuity, providing effective and timely response as well as recovery.

 Planning involves systematic identification and valuation of major activities, determination of various hazards (national, international, and naturally caused), performing systematic analysis, prioritization of risks and assessment of their impact. Organizations should identify national and local regulations of actions which should be taken before, during, and after emergency situations. Additionally, these regulations should be juxtaposed to potential emergency management situations.

 
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Tactical implementation starts from the appointment of a person or a group of people who will ensure the development, communication, implementation, and reporting of emergency management procedures. Additional attention should be paid to providing sufficient resources, logistical capabilities, and initiation of the cooperation with stakeholders (suppliers, outsourcing partners, and representatives of the community). Critical steps are “harnessing technology to automate transactions, organize and retrieve supply chain data, and manage scale”.

Additional emphasis should be laid on drawing the attention of the public and officials to emergency issues. This can be realized by introducing these issues in the personal political agenda of an emergency manager. The initial reluctance can be addressed by focusing on the event, withdrawal of the opportunity for policy changes, and the effective use of this opportunity.

The appointed person should ensure that employees are fully aware of hazards and threats associated with their work. Decisive actions should be taken to provide prevention, deterrence, self-protection, mitigation, and assurance of continuity. Private organizations should also guarantee sufficient internal and external communication among employees and between the organization and stakeholders before, during, and after the emergency situation. Much attention should be paid to the identification of critical processes and time-sensitive functions by channelling more efforts into ensuring continuity. All these actions should be accurately documented.

The established plans, procedures, and capabilities should be evaluated during the set time periods[1]. This can be realized through testing, assessment, preparation and analysis of post-incident reports as well as the evaluation of performance. Such evaluations should be properly recorded.

Successful checking and analysis enable creating a strong background for the management review. The latter is reflected in taking corrective and preventive actions to avoid emergency situations in future and improve response to them. The organizations should strive for continual improvement of their emergency management procedures.

The effectiveness of the private sector's provision of continuity for the corporate and industrial settings is based on the clear understanding of the enormous losses which can be caused to the non-governmental organizations in emergency situations. Therefore, managers direct their efforts not only towards ensuring the development of appropriate plans of actions, but also towards the formation of partnerships with various governmental and non-governmental organizations. The example of such partnerships is the FEMA’s Project Impact initiative. It was successfully realized in Tulsa and Seattle.

How Does the Private Sector Directly Collaborate with Emergency Personnel from the Governmental Sector Such as DHS and FEMA?

The collaboration between the private sector and emergency personnel from the governmental sector is extremely important for ensuring the production of usable emergency operation plans and their realization. This collaboration involves the employees of state and local-level agencies (coastal zone agencies, metropolitan planning organizations, geological services agencies, etc.) and state emergency management agencies. Cooperation with the emergency personnel is conducted through various campaigns, initiatives, and preparedness programs.

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For example, the interaction between the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Airbnb during the disasters and emergency situations involves negotiating their specifics under the terms of FEMA’s Ready Campaign. In the context of the current section, it should be noted that FEMA is the agency within the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition, FEMA actively promotes the Project Impact initiative that entails close cooperation between its employees and the business managers of private organizations. This program presupposes deep involvement in hazard mitigation and disaster preparedness by determining the risks of damage during emergency situations, developing strategies and targeting resources towards lowering the negative impact, and keeping the private sector informed about available financial assistance for addressing the consequences.

However, the current work will focus on the depiction of closer and more extensive form of collaboration under the name of Private Sector Preparedness (also known as PS-Prep). The program was established according to the Public Law 110-53, Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act (2007) passed by the Congress in 2007. This law serves as an amendment to the Homeland Security Act. It provides the guidelines to DHS to create “voluntary private sector preparedness accreditation and certification program.”

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Since 2007, PS-Prep has provided private organizations with various options to prepare for disasters and emergency situations. These options are the following: certification and providing relevant audits of private organizations with regard to nationally recognized and respected approaches to preparedness. DHS assists and guides private organizations in the determination and implementation of appropriate actions (i.e. comprehensive management systems). This is done with the aim of implementing and maintaining comprehensive emergency management. The cooperation between the private sector and the emergency personnel of the governmental institutions through PS-Prep enables ensuring the resilience of these organizations, a high level of emergency and disaster management, and their ability to operate during emergency situations.

What Steps or Protocols Assure Effective Lines of Communications and the Sharing of Information between the Private Sector and Governmental Authorities?

Effective lines of communications and the sharing of information between the private sector and governmental authorities are assured by the communications protocols. These protocols are developed by private organizations. Protocols should aling with local, state, and federal emergency response plans.

The effective interatcion is also guaranteed by several steps. Firstly, effective formal or informal interaction between the private sector and governmental authorities should be fostered. Both parties should be aware of emergency startegies and each other's actions. The next step is the establishment of the interdependence of resources, infrastructure, and information sharing. These linkages should be introduced in the action plan to avoid any deiscrepencies in the interaction in emergency situations. The last step is creating working groups consisting of the represntatives of the private sector and governmental authorities. These working groups should undertake short- and long-term activities within the established communication approach.

How Can Mutual Aid and Assistance Agreements Between the Private Sector and Governmental Authorities Ensure a More Effective Form of Preparedness, Response and Recovery?

In the current work, mutual aid and assistance agreements are represented by the agreements between governmental authorities and the private sector institutions used for sharing the information, resources, facilities, and services at the time of a disaster. These agreements can take on a form of a memorandum of understanding, partnership agreements, corporative agreements, etc. They should be concluded in written form by a reviewed legal counsel and signed by responsible officials and representatives of private companies. Agreements should contain the definition of the main terms, the responsibilities of each party, notification, relationships with other institutions, compensation of employed individuals, protocols of communication, recognition of qualifications, and provisions concerning the arrangements of cost and funding.  The examples of the definitions are the following: duration of agreement and intellectual property.

Mutual aid agreements may include sharing or borrowing of resources between governmental authorities and private institutions to mitigate the negative impact of the disaster. They may also concern the sharing of the information between governmental institutions and private organizations, usually incorporating the sharing of the general information about the characteristics of the disaster, locations affected by it to the greatest and lowest extent, places where people can shelter, etc. These agreements may also encompass the sharing of information with the specification of phone numbers, details of contact persons, pass codes, and account numbers. The example of such an agreement is the documentation and official presentation of FEMA’s Ready Campaign between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Airbnb. According to this agreement, the agency would provide the private organization with the real-time information so that the latter would be able to provide timely and effective response to disasters and their consequences by sharing this information with the broad audience. For instance, “Airbnb can mail hosts in specific neighborhoods to let them know shelter in the area.”

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Mutual aid and assistance agreements provide numerous benefits to the society that suffers from the disaster. They enable the coordination of planned procedures, avoidance of the duplication of actions, improvement of mutual understanding between the employees of various institutions, increase in the effectiveness of support, provision of timely access to the information and services, and the improvement of the internal organizational response capability. Moreover, these agreements “ensure that all stakeholders have a voice.” That means that any of the involved parties can take an active part in negotiations and protect its interests.

Conclusion

To summarize, the current work provides general understanding of the role of the private sector in emergency management by giving distinct characteristics of its realization. The private sector addresses the needs of its employees, infrastructure, and facilities through active cooperation with the agencies or acting separately from them. The management of emergency situations can be realized in the following ways: providing direct support to communities, ensuring disaster preparedness of the organizations, developing innovative technologies, establishing agencies which will respond to emergency situations, and forming joint projects with all the involved parties. Business continuity is guaranteed by implementing the strategies in accordance with the American National Standard ASIS SPC.1-2009. Another significant area is the collaboration with the emergency personnel conducted through various campaigns, initiatives, and preparedness programs. Effective lines of communication and sharing of information are ensured through communication protocols and fulfilment of a multi-step strategy. Additionally, mutual aid and assistance agreements between the private sector and the governmental authorities guarantee a more effective form of preparedness, response, and recovery.

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