Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Managing Crises: Planning for the Inevitable

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Managing Crises: Planning for the Inevitable

Article excerpt

"I did what I knew and when I knew better, I did better," said Erin E.S. Lynch, director for planning and preparedness at the American Red Cross, Greater Kansas City Chapter, Kansas City, Mo. That statement, in essence, sums up a daylong, information-packed Leadership Training Institute seminar, "Effective Leadership in the Management of Crises."

Dr. Richard Gist and Lynch led participants through the fundamentals of community impact assessment, incident management procedures, media management and the behavioral epidemiology of distress.

At the onset of the session, Gist and Lynch stated the importance of leaders assessing their personal, organizational and community strengths and challenges in the management of disasters.

Focusing on the social, economic, psychological and logistical challenges disasters present to a community, Gist and Lynch demonstrated that disasters are complicated, and that leaders learn fast -- after the fact -- how much they know, or don't know, in the management of crises. They showed that response to disaster is probably the most political thing local elected officials will ever have to do in their communities. They have to bring together and rely on many different internal and external organizations for a rapid, efficient response.

"The emergency response element in a community is a community's definition of itself. Every community has its reservoirs of resilience that can mobilize in a pinch. Every community has its ongoing issues that disaster will accentuate and exacerbate," Gist said.

Officials, therefore, should not only focus their efforts on the response phase, but they should invest time, energy and resources in preparing for disaster events. …

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