Just as the world of disaster planning and crisis management has grown step by step in the past 80 years with agencies, associations, laws, protocols, analysis, and budgets for precautions ahead of the disasters, so also the number of consultants and professionally trained emergency managers, conferences, career paths and certifications has grown step by step. One example of consulting services for companies, cities, and organizations required to plan and practice their crisis management is CEMA, based in middle Michigan, USA, but with associates in its pool of expertise located on five continents.
C.E.M.A. stands for Comprehensive Emergency Management Associates and was incorporated in 2003 after two men with careers in firefighting and one man with medical and military career joined together to form the company. The company LinkedIn page online includes 178 associates, of which only 34 are based in USA (10 of them in Michigan) and the other 144 are overseas. The CEMA website describes the services of emergency planning, training, and exercises. Looking at the calendar of events for spring and summer 2017 there seem to be as many exercises (discussion-based; or operations-based) as planning activities, with most of the clients being health care facilities. The training sessions (in person or with virtual instruction online and telephone) do not seem to appear in the spring-summer 2017 worklist.
The emphasis on the medical system and regional infrastructure is understandable. Unlike corporations or the other sectors of the economy, the health care organizations have a legal requirement of emergency preparedness for their accreditation. So there is incentive, practical sense, and budget or grants to be used on this work. The CEMA 2’45” video, Contracted Services for Hospital Systems, asks why the exercises and the documenting of results are hard to complete without using professional expertise of consultants like CEMA. The screenshot from the movie, above, explains part of the reason for difficulty in doing hospital disaster exercises: personnel are busy with their main work, time is ordinarily not available to prepare and carry-out and follow-up the exercise, and clients lack the expertise of FEMA-certified Master Exercise Practitioners who use the HSEEP process to customize the scenario and evaluate the result of the exercise.
In summer 2010 staff from our ScienceCraft office arranged to interview the CEMA directors and observe a full-scale exercise at a hospital campus. At that time two competing software programs (Crisis Management Information Systems) were being widely used in USA, so we visited the Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) in Michigan (using E-Team at that time) and in Indiana (using Web EOC at that time). It was eye-opening to see first-hand the different EOCs for city, county, campus, and state police. And the chance to talk about the menu of services that CEMA provides to their clients near and far was illuminating, too, when thinking about points of similarity and difference in Japan.
All together the consulting work of individual associates under the CEMA umbrella is very impressive. Without their expertise, experience, and set of interconnecting services it would be difficult for medium and large businesses and organizations to meet their requirements for emergency preparedness – making a plan, testing it and keeping it responsive to changing personnel, laws, and risk factors like those triggered by global warming and increasing rates of extreme weather. This model of bringing individual experts together is a strong one that gives the best possible results to clients. Then when a disaster comes the staff are ready, as in the case of hospital evacuation in Beaumont, Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey, 8/2017.
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