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What Business Wants from Emergency Management

It starts with having a relationship.

Earlier today I was on a call where the conversation bent towards, “What is it that businesses want from emergency management?”

I already knew this from my previous work, but they want to know, at the time of a disaster, 1) What is really going on? and 2) What plans does government have that might impact them and their decision-making? They don’t want to be getting the information that is being filtered through the news media. If there is a backstory, they need to know that too.

We were talking about the above in the context of the pandemic. One of the things noted is that it would be best if government stuck to telling business what needs to be done and let the business develop and tailor the how to their individual circumstances.

Ideally, business has a seat at the table when decisions are being made so the impact of those decisions on the business community can be articulated to government leaders making the decision.

Every business cannot be involved or present, so having a business group, chamber of commerce or other ideally regional entity participate provides a wider perspective and not just one single business’ voice.

Trust is built on relationships. These can’t be manufactured at the time of a disaster, so doing the grunt work in advance to have a network of businesses who you can rely on for good feedback is necessary. Collaboration, not dictatorship, is the right way to think about the process of having more faces at the table.

Lastly, as a note for both business and government, it is OK to say that what we’ve done before isn’t working. So find another path forward. Innovate your way of approaching the situation!
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.