The “whole community” approach as described in the National Preparedness Goal refers to the shared responsibility amongst governmental, non-governmental, public and private sector entities, communities and individuals to work together in order to ensure national security and promote resilient communities (FEMA.gov, 2015, p. 1-2). Meaning that individuals must not simply rely on the federal, state or local governments to ensure thier safety and security, but individuals must take thier own safety seriously. Furthermore, the problem does not go away with more funding. Appropriate guidance, laws, education, training, and equipment all play significant roles in national preparedness.
The concept of “whole community” is important when viewing both short- and long-term effects that natural and man-made disasters can have on a population. Hurricane Katrina is a perfect example of the lack of a “whole community approach” resulting in improper risk analysis and poor emergency planning. The substandard response and recovery efforts at the federal, state and community-level contributed to almost every issue negatively impacting this incident. Ultimately, there was no precedent for a natural disaster of that magnitude and community leaders and residents found themselves unprepared. There was no distinct chain of command to delegate resources for recovery and rescue operations. Breakdowns in coordination from the federal level to the local level were apparent. “State and local authorities understood the devastation but, due to destruction of infrastructure and response capabilities, lacked the ability to communicate with each other and coordinate a response, struggled to perform responsibilities such as the rescue of citizens stranded by the rising floodwaters, provision of law enforcement, and evacuation of the remaining population of New Orleans (Townsend, 2006, ch. 5).
The Federal Emergency Management Agency leads the charge of the whole community approach to emergency management with the goal of facilitating a culture that shifts primary responsibility from the federal government managing disaster recovery to a community-centric approach. Creating crosstalk between emergency management stakeholders, decision makers, and communities, facilitates exchange of information and best practices that can be shared between communities that have the same hazards and threats. Additionally, community leaders are able to form a shared understanding of thier respective needs and capabilities, leverage resources, strengthen infrastructure, forge more effective prevention, protection, response and recovery while increasing preparedness and resiliency across the community and the nation (FEMA.gov, 2011, p. 3).
Fostering a culture of shared responsibility places responsibility of emergency management on governments thereby sharing that responsibility amongst non-governmental, public and private sector agencies, and individual persons with the community. This strengthens communities and in turn hardens our national infrastructure strengthening our security.
In previous courses I touched a little on the concept of “whole community” and its relevance to homeland security. This weeks lesson and readings refreshed my memory as to the concept of “whole community” and how it related to homeland security. I briefly forgotten about the concept until I read through the material and understood the definition. “Whole community” can be best described by the material and individuals interpretation. I’ve defined the concept as a system that incorporates various levels of government whether its state, federal, or local community aimed at understanding the methods best employed to help strengthen emergency management while identifying threats and hazards. It becomes a broader understanding on how this concept relates to homeland security. The integration of various levels of government establish working relationships that will straighten agencies such as homeland security. However, we can relate the concept to homeland security according to this weeks reading is the five mission areas of homeland security. “These five mission areas serve as an aid in organizing our national preparedness activities and enabling integration and coordination across core capabilities” (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, p. 4). The statement provides relevance as a better understanding of the five missions and their intent, as well as the impact “whole community” has towards homeland security. National preparedness is fundamental, “whole community” concepts allows individuals at any level to help produce vital information that can help strengthen or mitigate future attacks.
An example of a resource found within the “whole community” concept would be the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The intent of the concept within the CDC will help establish a community that helps understanding how to apply “whole community” and the CDC program towards emergency management. It defines who and what the CDC is, types of agents and toxins, proper health practices, and training. This program makes an impact upon collective homeland security capabilities because it provides to the masses what the CDC does and what actions can be taken to help mitigate future incidents and attacks that fall within homeland security. Homeland security is broadening agency and reaching out to specific resources will only strengthen its agenda. The capabilities of the CDC will aid homeland security in its endeavors when combatting terrorism.