Emergency Management New Year’s Resolutions: Time for Change?

As 2023 approaches, we are all looking for ways to improve our habits with some New Year’s resolutions.

We make these resolutions wherever we can, from our personal lives to our professional lives. And for many of our readers, this means brushing up on their emergency management skills and knowledge. 

So let’s get a bit ahead of the calendar. Where can emergency managers start their journeys, grow as professionals, and make sure their programs are fit for the challenges of the new year?

Burnout and Mental Health

One of the biggest challenges facing emergency management and its practitioners is managing mental health and burnout. The global response to COVID-19 and its related stressors still affect many practitioners across industries, and emergency managers are no exception. 

Emergency management can be a naturally stressful gig, and that fact, coupled with the weight of the past few years, may spur compassion fatigue and general stress. 

A silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, is the openness many now have with discussing mental health. Having mental health professionals available for other professionals, especially those in emergency management, response, and healthcare positions, is becoming a more popular option.

For some organizations, making these resources available is a good resolution to hold when the calendars turn over. Ensuring the mental wellbeing of employees is a sure path to success.

New Threats and Exercises: A Fitness Program

Little is static in emergency management, including the list of incidents EMs may face.

A recent attack on power stations in North Carolina left thousands without power for multiple days, with a chance to extend further. The attack was concerning, and now many municipalities are considering exercises for such an incident to build preparedness for potential copycat events. Infrastructure, while it can be fortified, is a vulnerability bad actors like to target (and many like to find new, creative ways of doing so). 

Emergency managers should incorporate tabletop exercises into their EOCs to combat these modern threats. Both physical attacks and cyberattacks on government and infrastructure have become very prevalent in recent years. Technological resiliency is a must, ensuring that an EOC not only avoids bad actors, but can respond when they do strike elsewhere.

This new threat, if nothing else, is a push to make exercises and drills more common in EOCs in the new year. As an emergency manager, the new year is a good time for you to work these tabletops into your program so that the program and your stakeholders stay fit.

Digitizing the EOC

COVID-19 led many industries further down the path to digitization, including emergency management.

Many were digital before the pandemic, some shifted when lockdowns began, and some are just now making the push. The old tactile feel of papers, binders, and desks let many emergency managers insulate their programs. But the impending full digitization of the industry means many EMs will have to look to the outside for help.

This is where companies like Naturally Freeman come in. Naturally Freeman’s solutions allow people to respond to an emergency wherever they are, and consolidate critical information without having to box all stakeholders into the EOC. 

Naturally Freeman’s COOP and CORE solutions cut out the customization work going digital seems to entail. After some quick set-up, an emergency manager can have well-configured plans, processes, workflows, and forms for addressing the disasters their EOC faces.

Digitizing where possible is a good resolution for emergency managers in the new year. Unfortunately, some may have to work with already established budgets. But even within those strict budgets, any wiggle room can help line up those improvements, even if marginal. And as your next budget season comes around, think of how those funds can be allocated to get your EOC a few steps further towards digitization.

Modern challenges, modern solutions

Despite the jokes we all make, the new year (or just before) is a good time to take stock of new developments. Organizations should take this opportunity to address changes in daily life for their employees, as well as how changing technology and innovation may impact operations in the coming years. Whether it be the challenges mentioned above or ones more specific to an individual organization, now is the time to begin working on innovating emergency management for 2023.

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