Preparedness and Response

2010 Tale of Our Cities Report

The Tale of Our Cities meeting held in Washington, DC on April 12 – 13, 2010 was the fourth in a series designed to bring together representatives from cities that have experienced terrorist attacks with representatives of governments that have had limited real-life experience in that regard. The goal of the series to build knowledge and share best practices. The meeting convened officials from federal, state, and local agencies, non-governmental agencies, and the private sector as well as representatives from Israel, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Experts from these international locations generously shared their lessons learned, mistakes, and best practices with peers in the United States. Download PDF: final_toc_april_12__13.2010_report.

Bystander Behavior in Mass Casualty Events

Dr. Isaac Ashkenazi
Dr. Barry C. Dorn
Dr. Leonard J. Marcus
Eric J. McNulty

This article was published in Issue 1, Volume 2 of the Journal of Defense Studies & Resource Management.

In routine emergencies, official emergency organizations bear the responsibility to manage the event and treat the wounded. The principal role for bystanders is to alert the appropriate emergency organizations. In mass casualty events (MCE), bystanders are the first responders. Research conducted among rescues in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake indicates that bystanders can be an effective complement to professional rescue forces and a necessary substitute when professionals lack sufficient surge capacity. Policy makers and planners may be able to save lives and elevate resilience by sharing emergency preparedness responsibility with the general public.

Download the PDF: bystanders_in_mce_jdsrm

The Success Paradox — Part I

Abstract: By focusing so intently on ‘success’, as they define it, leaders are often blind to the mistakes that are ultimately the seeds of their failure, say Dr. Isaac Ashkenazi, Dr. Leonard Marcus and Dr. Barry Dorn. Download the PDF:  The success paradox – Avoiding the traps 1

The Success Paradox — Part II

Abstract: By focusing so intently on ‘success’, as they define it, leaders are often blind to the mistakes that are ultimately the seeds of their failure, say Dr. Isaac Ashkenazi, Dr. Leonard Marcus and Dr. Barry Dorn. Download the PDF: The success paradox 2

The CLEAD Scale: Measuring the Efficacy of Leaders to Assess Information and Make Decisions in a Crisis

Constance Noonan Hadley
Todd Pittinsky 
S. Amy Sommer
Weichun Zhu

Measuring the efficacy of leaders to assess information and make decisions in a crisis: The C-LEAD Scale.
From Leadership Quarterly.

Based on the literature and expert interviews, the authors developed a new measure, the C-LEAD scale,to capture the efficacy of leaders to assess information and make decisions in a public health and safety crisis. In Studies 1 and 2, they found that C-LEAD predicted decision making difficulty and confidence in crisis contexts better than measures of general leadership efficacy and procedural crisis preparedness. In Study 3, their measure of crisis leader efficacy predicted motivation to lead in a crisis, voluntary crisis leader role-taking, and decision making accuracy as a leader. Together, the studies promote the initial construct validity of the C-LEAD scale and a deeper understanding of the factors involved in effective crisis leadership. Purchase this article.

The Public’s Preparedness for Hurricane Preparedness

Robert Blendon, Sc.D
John Benson
Catherine DesRoches
Katherine Lyon-Daniel
Elizabeth Mitchell
William Pollard

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this article is to look at how prepared people in communities outside the main areas devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita thought they were for those storms and for major hurricanes in the near future, what factors were related to why people did not evacuate, and what concerns people had in communities that took in evacuees from the hurricanes.

METHODS: Telephone interviews were conducted with randomly selected adults in Baton Rouge, Houston, Dallas, and Mississippi/Alabama (excluding the immediate Gulf Coast) to assess respondents’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors about hurricane preparedness and response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

RESULTS: The surveys found a sizeable proportion of respondents who might not, for a number of reasons, comply with future orders to evacuate. A substantial proportion reported that they were not prepared for another major hurricane and indicated a desire for more information about how to prepare for future hurricanes. In communities that reported taking in large numbers of evacuees, residents expressed concern about the impact of the evacuees on their community.

CONCLUSION: Evacuating communities involves a number of concrete problems that were not adequately addressed in the cases of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Responses to these surveys indicate a need for more comprehensive hurricane disaster planning.

More information on this article.

Threat of Terrorism: Weighing Public Safety in Seattle (Case #1648.0 & 1648.1)

Kirsten Lundberg
Arnold Howitt

Abstract: In December 1999, only weeks after protests at the annual meeting of the World Trade Organization sparked violent protests which rocked the city, Seattle public safety officials face a new threat. An Algerian man has been arrested trying to cross the US border from Canada-in a car whose trunk is filled with enough explosions, says the FBI, to topple a multi-story building. What’s more, the arrested man, Ahmed Ressam, had held a reservation at a motel just blocks from Seattle’s most famous landmark, the Space Needle, in the Seattle Center, at which thousands of city residents and tourists are scheduled to celebrate the first New Year’s Eve of the 21st century. This case examines the decision-making process of Seattle officials as they consider whether the possibility of terrorism should lead them to cancel the elaborate public celebrations scheduled to coincide with the dawn of the new millenium.The case describes tensions that arise among officials from various levels of government-particularly local police and the FBI-as all struggle to make what could be a life-or-death decision in an atmosphere of incomplete information, social and economic pressure, and fear. Purchase this case study.

Charting a Course in the Storm (Anthrax) (Case #1692.0)

Kirsten Lundberg
Arnold Howitt

Abstract: On Sunday, October 21, 2001, a postal worker from a mail sort facility in Washington, DC, died of inhalation anthrax—a disease virtually unseen for a century. The next day, a second employee from the same facility died. Fear of anthrax had already gripped the US: newspaper and television employees in Florida and New York City had contracted the disease through letters. In addition, US Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) had received an anthrax-laden letter and the Senate and House of Representatives office buildings had been forced to close for anthrax tests. With the deaths of the mail workers, the public perception of risk mushroomed, only weeks after the terrorist hijackings of September 11 had devastated Americans’ sense of safety. In the midst of unprecedented pressure and fear, the United States Postal Service had to undertake crucial tasks for which its systems were not designed and which had never been foreseen. These included: reassuring and protecting the public from toxins in the mail, reassuring and protecting its own employees—as well as delivering the mail. With no warning, the Postal Service had to find ways to coordinate its activities with public health authorities, to make key decisions as to whether to close affected postal facilities, and to discuss the nature of the threat with the public. Executives who had thought their job was to manage mail delivery and control costs suddenly found themselves on the front lines of a new war involving terrorism. This case combines discussion of the management of postal operations with a candid, historical account—not before assembled—of the internal decision-making of the Postal Service in the midst of the anthrax crisis. It is a vehicle for discussion of crisis management, in particular. Purchase this case study.

White Powder in Georgia: Responding to Cases of Suspected Anthrax After 9/11

Daniel Collings
Arnold Howitt

Abstract: In the wake of the mailing of apparent terrorist letters poisoned by the toxin anthrax in October, 2001, and resulting deaths in Florida, New York and Connecticut, public health authorities throughout the United States found themselves inundated by hundreds of reports of suspicious white powders found in the mail or public places. Although authorities believed that, in all likelihood, the overwhelming majority of these cases were either hoaxes or panicked responses to ordinary substances, it was difficult to rule out foul play without further investigation. Responding to every call and every powder, however, threatened to overwhelm the limited capacity of public health laboratories—and thus to make citizens virtually no more secure than no response at all. This case tells the story of how authorities in the state of Georgia developed operational protocols to employ in managing their response to thousands of reports of suspicious substances. Specifically, it describes how law enforcement and public health officials coordinated their responses, and the manner in which they decided which calls should receive priority. Ultimately, it became clear that there were no anthrax bacteria in any of situations to which Georgia officials were summoned by concerned citizens. What remained, however, was a system officials hoped would remain in readiness for the future. This case draws on interviews with public health, police, fire and civil defense officials in Georgia.
Purchase a copy of this case study.

Rudy Giuliani: The Man and His Moment

Hannah Riley Bowles

Abstract: Two video segments (1732.9 and 1733.9) focus on Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s leadership in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. The “Preparedness” video (1732.9) provides viewers with a sense of how public officials coped with the immense operational complexity of the city’s emergency response as the shocking disaster unfolded. The segment opens with Giuliani’s first public statements on the morning of the attacks, in a telephone interview broadcast on the local television channel NY1. Interwoven with video footage of the day’s events are clips from Giuliani’s later press briefings and excerpts from interviews with the Office of Emergency Management’s Commissioner Richard Shierer and Deputy Commission for Public Information Frank McCarton. The second “Leadership” video (1733.9) focuses on Giuliani’s leadership role in the days following the attacks. The video starts with the opening words from Giuliani’s first television press briefing on September 11th and contains a number of other segments from later press conferences. It contains excerpts from interviews with members of the press who covered Giuliani’s leadership of the crisis: Chris Vlasto, Senior Investigative Reporter, ABC News; Andrew Kirtzman, Senior Political Reporter, NY1 and author of Rudy Giuliani: Emporor of the City; and Brian Lehrer, host of “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC (New York Public Radio). Vlasto, Kirtzman and Lehrer reflect on why Giuliani was perceived to be so effective and on the role of media in his meteoric rise to hero status. Excerpts from an interview with William Bratton, former New York City Police Commissioner, shed light on how Giuliani’s leadership style was particularly well suited to crisis. McCarton reflects on Giuliani’s encouragement of people to back to their lives in the days following the crisis. The interviews and press conference clips are interwoven with imagery of Giuliani’s leadership before and (mostly) after crisis. Preparedness video RT: 00:09:20 Leadership video RT: 00:13:40. Purchase this case study.

Emergency Response System Under Duress: The Public Health Fight to Contain SARS in Toronto (Case #1792.0, 1793.0 & 1793.1)

Abstract: This two-part case examines the response of the Toronto and Ontario public health and hospital systems to the outbreak of SARS in the spring of 2003. It describes both the public health system in place at the time SARS came to Toronto and the stress and adaptations which resulted from the onset of the disease–introduced to Toronto by a lone airplane passenger from Hong Kong who, by terrible coincidence, had contact with a SARS victim (the so-called “index patient” who’d brought the illness from mainland China) at a Hong Kong hotel. This crisis management case makes clear that Toronto had great difficulty in coping with the respiratory virus. It emerged as the second hardest-hit city in the world and was slapped with a World Health Organization travel ban, a virtually unprecedented turn of events for a major city in a developed country. The case raises the questions of whether Toronto’s problems were the result of long-term under-funding of the public health system and highlights systemic communications problems which came to play a dramatic role in the SARS story. It focuses, as well, on the question of whether quarantine is a useful weapon in the modern struggle against disease and, if so, what form such action should take.
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Security Planning for the 2004 Democratic National Convention (Case #1807.0, 1808.0 & 1808.1)

Esther Scott
Arnold Howitt

Abstract: When the city of Boston applied to host the Democratic Party presidential nominating convention of July 2004, it did so in the belief that the event would bring the city both prestige and economic benefit. But by the time the convention was to be held, the terrible events of September 11, 2001 had intervened and, as a designated “national special security event,” the convention was now subject to the tightest possible measures for security and protection. As a result, key sections of the city, and miles of roads, were virtually shut down in order to permit the convention to take place in the city’s major indoor sports arena, and the event engendered complaints, not plaudits, from citizens and business owners alike.

This case tells the story of the planning that preceded the convention, as federal officials by presidential directive in charge of national special security events found themselves having to balance expectations of a civic celebration with their own grave concerns about terrorist threats. The case is divided into three parts. Part A (1807.0) describes the elaborate planning process set up by the US Secret Service, which had overall responsibility for security planning for the convention, and the dispute samong local, state and federal officials as to how draconian security measures had to be; it focuses in particular on two of the thorniest issues facing planners: whether to shut down a busy public transit station and a portion of a major interstate highway providing access to Boston from the north. Part B (1808.0) details the complex negotiations to resolve these and other security matters; the Epilogue (1808.1) provides a brief overview of the implementation of the security plan at the convention.

The case is designed both to facilitate discussion about the ways in which emergency preparedness overlaps with political considerations, and to highlight the nature of inter-governmental relations in the American system. Purchase this case study.

To What End? Re-thinking Terrorist Attack Exercises in San Jose (Case #1815.0, 1815.1 & 1816.1)

Pamela Varley
Arnold Howitt

Abstract: This case study tells the story of San Jose, California, one of the first 27 cities in the country to participate in a federal domestic preparedness program. Between 1997 and 1999, a specially created city task force mounted several full-scale terrorist attack exercises, but—despite the best of intentions—found all of them frustrating, demoralizing, and divisive, creating ill will between the exercise planners and the first responders. In response, the San Jose task force took a step back and analyzed their situation. In place of traditional full-scale exercises, San Jose drew on several existing prototypes to create a new “facilitated exercise” model that emphasized teaching over testing, and was much better received by first responders. For teaching flexibility, the case has been divided into three parts.

The main case describes San Jose’s early experience, ending at a crucial moment, when the task force was forced to face the fact that its approach was not working. It is designed to spark a class discussion about what seems to be going awry, and how the problems might be solved.

Sequel 1 (1815.1) is designed to be read in the middle of class. It describes the new facilitated exercise model in brief. Students could then be asked to assess the approach taken by San Jose.

Sequel 2 (1816.1) is designed as a “take away,” to be given out at the end of class. It includes the reflections of the emergency service providers in San Jose about the facilitated exercise model. It would also be possible assign students to read all three parts before class, and to hold a retrospective discussion about how San Jose analyzed and responded to its problem. Funding provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative.

Purchase these case materials.

Hurricane Katrina (A): Preparing for “The Big One” in New Orleans (Case #1843.0)

Esther Scott
Arnold Howitt

Abstract: On Tuesday, August 23, 2005, meteorologists in the US National Weather Service spotted a tropical depression in the southeastern Bahamas. As it strengthened into a tropical storm, weather officials gave it a name, Katrina, and closely tracked it as it turned into a hurricane, crossing south Florida and then moving into the Gulf of Mexico. There, fed by the gulf’s warm waters, Katrina turned into a monster: a “Category five” hurricane, with winds gusting past 170 miles per hour and an unusally wide span of over 100 miles. Katrina initially appeared to be heading next for the Florida Panhandle, but on Friday it made a dramatic shift; it turned westward and appeared to take dead aim at one of the most storied and fragile cities in the US: New Orleans. With landfall expected on Monday morning, state, local, and federal emergency response officials sprang into action, following the roadmaps laid out in their emergency plans.

This case tells the story of the lead-up to the storm, detailing the plans that officials would draw on to prepare for the hurricane’s onslaught, the steps that were taken to evacuate and shelter hundreds of thousands of residents in metropolitan New Orleans, and the communications among different agencies and levels of government as the storm drew near; it shows officials concerned about the effects of the hurricane, but confident that their preparations were commensurate with the challenges that Katrina would pose. The case asks readers to consider why local, state, and federal governments all proved unready to respond effectively to a catastrophic event which had been long predicted. Part A can be taught alone or in tandem with Part B of the case, which describes the post-landfall response to the devastating impact of the hurricane; it would be useful in classes on emergency or strategic management as well as on intergovernmental relations. Purchase this case study.

Wal-Mart?s Response to Hurricane Katrina: Striving for a Public-Private Partnership (Case #1876.0 & 1876.1)

Susan Rosegrant

Abstract: As Hurricane Katrina roared towards the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts on August 28, 2005, the public sector—ranging from local law enforcement to the Federal Emergency Management Agency—feverishly prepared for what was expected to be a devastating hit. At the same time, the private sector was undergoing its own exhaustive preparations. At its Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters, giant retailer Wal-Mart had already launched a comprehensive emergency response that included stocking stores in the storm zone with special merchandise; stationing teams to evaluate stores as soon as the hurricane passed; and gathering representatives of all major functional areas in a centralized emergency operations center in order to find displaced employees, re-open stores, and help stricken communities. After Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic flooding that overwhelmed the government’s response, though, Wal-Mart found itself playing a larger role than it had anticipated. The following chaotic weeks raised important questions about whether the public sector could take full advantage of the retailer’s strengths and capabilities, and whether it was ready to accept a larger role for Wal-Mart and other companies in responding to national emergencies. Purchase this case study.

Hurricane Katrina (B): Responding to an “Ultra-Catastrophe” in New Orleans (Case #1844.0)

Esther Scott
Arnold Howitt

Abstract: When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast on Monday morning, August 29, it cut a wide swath of destruction in the area; but despite inflicting enormous damage, it initially appeared that the storm had spared low-lying New Orleans the worst of its wrath. But as Katrina moved on, it soon became clear to those who had not evacuated the city that something was going very wrong: almost every part of New Orleans began to flood, and by the next day roughly 80 percent of it would be under water. The rapidly rising floodwaters, the result of three major breaches in the levees protecting the city, created a massive humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of residents escaped to rooftops or attics, where they waited anxiously for rescue, or waded in waist-deep water to find shelter; many went to the Superdome, which was already packed with people who had waited out the storm there, or to other improvised shelters in the city. As the days dragged on, it would become increasingly apparent that almost every aspect of the response from state, local, and federal government was falling far short of what was needed: evacuees languished in squalid shelters or on highway overpasses waiting for buses that did not come; looting and more serious crimes were reported to be rampant; food, water, and medical care were in short supply. As public outrage grew, fed by TV footage of distraught storm victims, emergency response officials and political leaders, all the way up to President George W. Bush, found themselves scrambling to cope with the “ultra-catastrophe” that Katrina had visited on New Orleans.

This case tells the story of the first week of the post-landfall response to Katrina, describing both the devastation left by the storm and the largely ineffective efforts of officials to respond to the overwhelming need it created. It provides an opportunity to consider the operational issues of emergency response, particularly the problems of interagency, interjurisdictional, and intergovernmental coordination in an environment where infrastructure and communications systems had been almost entirely destroyed. Used in tandem with Part A, the case provides a before-and-after look at the response to Katrina, but it can also be taught as a freestanding case. Purchase this case study.

Hurricane Katrina (C): Responding to an ?Ultra-Catastrophe? in New Orleans, Abridged (Case #1916.3)

Arnold Howitt

Abstract: This abridgement was produced by Arnold Howitt and is based on case C15-06-1844.0, “Hurricane Katrina (B): Responding to an ‘Ultra-Catastrophe’ in New Orleans,” written by Esther Scott.

On Tuesday, August 23, 2005, meteorologists in the US National Weather Service spotted a tropical depression in the southeastern Bahamas. As it strengthened into a tropical storm, weather officials gave it a name, Katrina, and closely tracked it as it turned into a hurricane, crossing south Florida and then moving into the Gulf of Mexico. There, fed by the gulf’s warm waters, Katrina turned into a monster: a “Category five” hurricane, with winds gusting past 170 miles per hour and an unusally wide span of over 100 miles. Katrina initially appeared to be heading next for the Florida Panhandle, but on Friday it made a dramatic shift; it turned westward and appeared to take dead aim at one of the most storied and fragile cities in the US: New Orleans. With landfall expected on Monday morning, state, local, and federal emergency response officials sprang into action, following the roadmaps laid out in their emergency plans.

This case tells the story of the lead-up to the storm, detailing the plans that officials would draw on to prepare for the hurricane’s onslaught, the steps that were taken to evacuate and shelter hundreds of thousands of residents in metropolitan New Orleans, and the communications among different agencies and levels of government as the storm drew near; it shows officials concerned about the effects of the hurricane, but confident that their preparations were commensurate with the challenges that Katrina would pose. The case asks readers to consider why local, state, and federal governments all proved unready to respond effectively to a catastrophic event which had been long predicted. Part A can be taught alone or in tandem with Part B of the case, which describes the post-landfall response to the devastating impact of the hurricane; it would be useful in classes on emergency or strategic management as well as on intergovernmental relations. Purchase this case study.