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Homeland Security Emergency Management

Using an Office of Homeland Security/Emergency Management (HSEM) as an example, homeland security looks like or reflects the breadth-of-homeland-security view of its leaders. For those with an ‘emergency services’ orientation we would expect to see major involvement by emergency services providers only (police, fire, EMS, etc.). This system might have the best equipment and respond with military precision, yet if these are the only participants, then their job is done as soon as the ‘scene is safe.’ This is not enough.

A HSEM office with a ‘public administration’ focus would have a vastly broader area of responsibility. This HSEM would involve not just a city’s first responders but also all subsequent responders; those represented in part by the city agencies that will have a role in recovery. These include public works, parks and recreation, public health, education, animal control, building inspection, child support, city engineer, information technology, environment, housing, mayor or administrator, medical examiner or coroner, power, planning, port authority, zoo, and the finance and tax people. Every city agency would be involved with HSEM. After surviving a disaster, when the first responders are done, these subsequent responders will make a city resilient.

At the very least, a broad-minded HSEM will have all of its agencies working as soon after a disaster as possible. Ideally, all of the agencies have practiced working together in alternative locations and with limited communications capabilities. All agencies should have ways to obtain essential equipment, supplies, and other vital resources even without a fully functional city government. For example, the public health department procures latex gloves from the local pharmacy when the traditional supplier is unavailable. In addition, all of this should be practiced and coordinated with everyone else and every agency who has a part to play.

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