Global Emergency Managers Discuss Common Threats

Global Emergency Managers Discuss Common Threats

Wendy Smith-Reeve addresses the the Electric Infrastructure Security Council’s World Summit on Infrastructure Security

Emergency Management communities worldwide share many of the same issues and concerns. In July, Wendy Smith-Reeve, the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA) Deputy Director traveled to London to participate in the Electric Infrastructure Security (EIS) Council’s World Summit on Infrastructure Security.

The Summit was an opportunity for leaders to discuss their plans regarding ‘Black Night’ events, both natural and manmade hazards such as EMP – high altitude Electromagnetic Pulse; Intentional Electromagnetic Interference; cyber terrorism and coordinated physical attacks.

“Electric Infrastructure Systems are global critical resources,” said Smith-Reeve on the importance of attending the event. “Learning from one another and sharing information can't be limited to our local, state, or national boundaries.”  

Representatives from the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Energy and Defense and several state agencies attended the Summit.

Smith-Reeve was part of a panel about State response to events. She spoke about the role Emergency Managers have during an event. “Everything begins and ends at the local level, then escalates to county, state and federal levels for additional support,” said Smith-Reeve. “It is about communication of needs and capability, coordination of resources, collaboration of partners to agree on the goals and objectives and collectively working to that end. Emergency management’s role is to support the cascading effects of an event, and coordinate necessary resources for all partners.”

Arizona and the United Kingdom (UK) approach emergency management in similar ways. They both have plans they follow during emergencies or disasters. Arizona uses the State Emergency Response and Recovery Plan (SERRP), a guide to how Arizona conducts response to any hazard, which follows national principles and federal frameworks. The United Kingdom uses the Emergency Response and Recovery Guidance, which aims to establish good practices for response based on lessons identified from prior emergency response and recovery. 

Arizona and the UK both have similar phases of emergency management or guiding principles. Both focus on preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation (how to reduce the severity of a potential disaster).

Arizona works to ensure first responders and the Whole Community are prepared for potential disasters. Last year DEMA coordinated 256 trainings for emergency response agencies and private sector partners. Topics ranged from all-hazards incident management to homeland security.

In addition to hosting/supporting 13 infrastructure scenario exercises, 42 other exercises were held last year with topics involving nuclear power, cyber security, fire and flood response and recovery.  

At the Summit, Smith-Reeve emphasized the importance of recovery from an event. “Response is where most are comfortable – we can’t forget that response is short-term recovery as it is intended to provide stabilization from the situation,” Smith-Reeve said. “Recovery makes people uncomfortable as it appears complex.  It is important to simplify what recovery actually is – break it down into manageable pieces, simplify the process and make it relatable to those that need to take an action or resolve conflict.”

The Summit built international relationships and allowed emergency managers and first responders to share ideas and plans.

“Any large scale power outage affects the whole community. Our friends and neighbors 'across the pond' also work hard to establish solid partnerships, develop plans, and identify resources that can be provided in time of crisis,” said Smith-Reeve. “There is steadfast commitment to support all nation states with enhancing their capability to secure electric infrastructure through whole community collaboration on a global scale.”