Emergency management is not what you do; it is who you are.
—Henry RenteriaFormer Director, California Governor's Office of Emergency Services
The preceding chapters have attempted to make a case for a new way of approaching emergency management. Traditional emergency management has its roots in the early civil defense programs of the Cold War era and is still heavily dominated by the military influence of those times. This has resulted in many programs that are plan‐centric and focused primarily on operational issues. It has also led to the institutionalization of many disaster myths that have been continually challenged by social science. These plans assume that a breakdown of social norms is inevitable in a disaster and that only strong, centralized command and control can overcome the resulting chaos.
These plans create an Achilles heel for many programs. In Managing the Unexpected, researchers Karl Weick and Kathleen Sutcliffe suggest that plans may create a false sense of security by lulling planners into a sense of predetermination, creating a disregard for the dangers of the unexpected. Lee Clarke in Mission Improbable and Erik Auf der Heide in Disaster Response raise similar cautions. The focus on the development of a plan rather than on community resilience is the major reason many emergency management programs fail to build an adequate capacity to respond.
Rather than a plan‐centric approach, this book suggests that emergency plans are a component ...