What does recovery really mean? What are the challenges of and for recovery? What does resiliency mean and how do we get there? What does the Bible offer on this topic?
Lecture Notes: Recovery
The concept of contingency planning is technically different than the concept of continuity planning. A contingency plan is sometimes called a “reversion” plan because it outlines what kinds of decisions and procedures are the “fall back” procedures reverted to in case some specific unexpected circumstances arise. For example, in business, a common contingency is when some construction project runs over cost or the deadline for completion. Contingency plans always tend to refer to some planned change within the organization while continuity plans always tend to refer to services and assets that are already operational.
Some terms encountered in any discussion of response and recovery are crisis and consequence management. Traditionally, at the federal level, the FBI has been responsible for crisis management and FEMA for consequence management. Leadership in the Department of Homeland Security has strongly indicated they don’t prefer those terms, and would like to see them modified and integrated into one function. However, it is worth spending some time on them for educational purposes. According to Fink (1986), crisis management is about “rolling with the punches” and taking seriously certain assumptions about the meaning of “crisis” (there’s no time or way to recover) and, like the grief process, one just has to work through the critical emotions — denial, anger, and depression — in order to keep from becoming immobilized. In management science, crisis management is associated with the topic of critical incident task analysis, and in criminal justice or police psychology, it is associated with the topic of critical incident stress debriefing. There are many counseling and social work enterprises which make their living off crisis management principles. The connections with homeland security are probably best understood by knowing that crisis counseling has always championed the cause of “speedy response.”
There are no good definitions of consequence management. Generically, the term refers to ameliorative action that is quick, careful, and decisive. The word “consequence” is usually taken to mean an event of “high consequence” involving mass casualties, such as super terrorism or a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) incident. The concept involves a concern for surge capacity; such as the overwhelming of medical resources, as well as any lingering effects on public health and the environment in the post-disaster environment.
Both crisis and consequence management tend to defy attempts at coordination through a tiered continuum of response. They both aggressively compete for priorities which, in practice, detract from other resource utilization schemes and an all-hazards approach (in their calling for specialized services). Although their sense of urgency may be well-founded, the two concepts tend to devolve into public relations or public education efforts. Public education or information may very well be important, perhaps important enough to call it the sixth major function of incident command, but problems arise when it devolves into rhetoric and propaganda. For example, crisis management in business usually implies a public relations campaign to convince consumers that it’s now safe to use a product.
It’s probably inherent in the nature of response that some programs are going to be overfunded and others underfunded, or in other words, that response capabilities will be lopsided. There are many organizations and people competing with one another for the privilege to save lives, secure the scene, maintain order, rescue and treat the injured, contain hazardous conditions, and retrieve the dead. Under the American system of federalism, all these things have been a local responsibility, and localities that experience more disasters per year than other localities can be expected to invest more heavily in their response capability. Hence, we can expect widespread variation in capability from state-to-state.