Individual/Community Preparedness

Micro Community Disaster Resilience

Please see the below information on Micro Community Disaster Resilience.

 

Informational Paper

Micro Community Disaster Resiliency

A Jewish Community Preparedness and Resiliency Project

By Jeffrey A. Slotnick, CSM, PSP

 

This paper intends to present a format for micro community preparedness, response, and recovery to natural, manmade, and technological disasters. The intended definition of a micro community for purposes of paper is a grouping of citizens which share a religious, ethnic, or cultural commonality as a basis for communal organization, preparedness, and resilience.

These groupings can be small such as an ethnic neighborhood or large and well developed religious communities which span several Cities in a County. Many existing micro-communities have leadership, social support agencies, and community facilities which can be leveraged to better prepare them for the eventuality of a disaster.

Additionally this paper will document a recent community project where this concept was applied the project is titled Safe Washington a Jewish Community Coalition to Keep Seattle Safe

 

This successful project is unique as it leverages existing Federal, State, County, and City programs, at no additional cost to the community. The only commitments from the community are dedication to the concept, an apolitical attitude, a willingness to collaborate, and an investment of time.

 

Background

The impetus for this project began with the shooting at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle on 28 July 2006 at 4:00 PM and is presently ongoing. Shortly after the shooting community leaders met to discuss how we might prevent, prepare, respond, and mitigate a similar event in our community, this lead to a much wider discussion on disaster resiliency as concept.

The Seattle Community and the Pacific Northwest has significant potential for a manmade, technological, or natural disaster. Below are some of the recent historic events;

Manmade

In December 1999, Algerian terrorist Ahmed Ressam was caught trying to cross the Canadian-American border at Port Angeles, Washington, with explosives in his car. Ressam belonged to a Montreal-based terrorist cell thought to be linked to both the Algerian terrorist group Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and Al Qaeda. The cell was apparently planning a millennium terror attack at Los Angeles International Airport. In April 2001 Ressam was convicted in Los Angeles of conspiracy to commit terrorism, document fraud and possession of deadly explosives.

The August 1999 Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting occurred on 10 August 1999, at around 10:50 a.m. local time, when white supremacist Buford O. Furrow, Jr. walked into the lobby of the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills and opened fire with a semiautomatic weapon, unloading 70 shots into the complex. The gunfire wounded five people: three children, a teenage counselor, and an office worker. Shortly thereafter, Furrow murdered a mail carrier, fled the state, and finally surrendered to authorities. Buford O. Furrow was raised in Lacey, Washington there were many who believed he would flee here.

Natural Disaster

Throughout its history, the Pacific Northwest has been battered by devastating earthquakes, catastrophic volcanic eruptions, massive tsunamis and windstorms that can reach near-hurricane force. And in 2002, the largest wildfire in the region's history burned more than 400,000 acres. The following natural disasters are of primary concern as this paper is being prepared;

• H1N1 Flu Virus

• 9.0 Subduction Mega Quake

• Flooding caused by failure of the Howard Hansen Dam

• Seasonal flooding and closure of Interstate 5 in 2007 and 2009

• Cyclonic windstorms similar to 1993 and 2006

In concert with the above are the upcoming 2010 Olympics which bring their own concerns to the Pacific Northwest. Once potential events were identified a core team was created to consider specific requirements. This team is represented by the following individuals;

• Kim Greenhall, Community Activities Director, Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle

• Amy Wasser-Simpson, Vice-President for Planning & Community Services Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle

• Larry Broder, Executive Director, Temple De Hirsch Sinai

• Hillary Bernstein, Regional Director, Pacific Northwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League

• Jeffrey A. Slotnick, PSP, Regional Director for the Secure Community Network and President Setracon Inc.

 

Start Up

The Core team had several preliminary meetings and identified the following shortfalls;

• No process existed for communicating with the entire community and responsible individuals in City and County government in an expeditious manner during emergencies, times of heightened awareness, or disaster.

• The community from the Director level down is not organized to prevent, prepare, respond, and mitigate a potential disaster.

• Training of constituent agencies in critical skills for prevention, protection, and response is inadequate or nonexistent.

• The quality of policies and procedures addressing disasters varies from organization to organization from very well written to informal spoken procedures.

• The level of organizational preparedness varies from institution to institution

• A formal list of responsible individuals for the various synagogues, religious schools, charitable institutions, parochial schools, and support agencies does not exist.

• Past attempts to organize had been hampered by perceived political and personality issues.

Once shortcomings were identified the group took each item and determined a course of action for each item. Simultaneously in Washington State two projects were coming to fruition. The Pacific Northwest Economic Regions Center for Disaster Resilience had great success with its Northwest Warning, Alert, and Response Network (NWWARN) www.nwarn.org with the Adjutant General State of Washington declaring NWWARN as the official communication tool for public/private information sharing and analysis which would work in conjunction with the Washington State Fusion Center. Additionally, the Seattle Police Department was establishing its Critical Infrastructure Protection cell inside the fusion center complete with analysts. The convergences of these three events lead to NWWARN defining a critical infrastructure protection sub-sector titled Jewish Religious Community.

With access to NWWARN we assigned a gatekeeper to vet participants of our constituent agencies permitting the registration of up to three individuals per organization in positions of leadership such as a Executive Director, Security Professional, Clergy, or Board President with an organizational E-mail address. With access to NWWARN and all its capabilities we were now able to send out an emergency on non emergency email, text message, automated telephone call, or page to our forty plus constituent agencies. Additionally, NWWARN provided a means for members to send a suspicious activity report directly to the Fusion Center. This in itself provided a significant tool. The resultant successes will be detailed later.

The end picture of this process is to have a robust capability to for;

• Communication of emergency information

• Two way Information Sharing within the community and with supporting City, County, and State agencies.

• Developing community wide best practices, policies, and procedures for preventing, preparing, responding to, and mitigating potential disasters.

• Cross leveling of community supplies during a disaster.

• Having one voice in requesting critical supplies and support from supporting City, County, and State agencies. Which serves two purposes;

o To relieve pressure on those agencies from individual requests.

o To fully utilize all community resources before additional assistance is requested.

o To insure those agencies understand when the request is received we are close to exhausting existing community resources.

• Provide opportunities for training and exercises of value.

The below presented graphic shows the interrelationships of the various agencies leveraged in the creation of Safe Washington.

 

The concept for the graphic above was conceived by Dr. Jeffrey Stiefel, PHD Senior Science Advisor, Department of Homeland Security Office of Medical Readiness, during a presentation at a Pacific Northwest Economic Region Exercise on the H1N1 Virus.

 

 

The below graphic was provided by Dr. Jeffrey Stiefel, PHD Senior Science Advisor, Department of Homeland Security Office of Medical Readiness, during a presentation at a Pacific Northwest Economic Region Exercise on the H1N1 Virus.

The efforts of this group and the concept fall firmly under what he titled “grassroots resources”

 

 

In order to address these and other items of preparedness the community leveraged the following programs

The Washington State Fusion Center provides us with a two way communication process. Constituent agencies provide suspicious activity reports to the Fusion Center by way of the NWWARN reporting mechanism. In turn the Fusion center has provided unclassified threat briefings pertinent to the Jewish Community.

Secure Community Network provides us spot reports, best practices, advisories, and global information which may have a local impact in addition they provide DHS training opportunities, and informational products specific to the Jewish Community. In turn we provide similar products from the Pacific Northwest which have impact on the United States Jewish Community.

Northwest Warning Alert and Response Network (NWWARN www.nwwarn.org) provides the community a robust means of emergency communication, a SharePoint like repository for working documents, suspicious activity reporting, and access to a home page panel which contains a wealth of information.

Local Law Enforcement/National Shield Program provides information and education pertinent to the Jewish Community at regularly scheduled meetings. Additionally they provide community briefings from industry experts.

FBI Community Engagement Committee provides timely briefings and information products which support the safety and protection of the Jewish Community.

DHS/FEMA Emergency Management Institute and the online training courses were used as the basic format for an apolitical organization. This allowed us to use our best, brightest, and most qualified in the various positions identified by a basic ICS structure. Certification in courses IS100, IS200, IS700, and IS800 are required for all participating agencies. G300 Incident Commander is required for all community leaders and agency directors. G400 Unified Command is required for participation on the core team which also forms as an incident command team in times of emergency.

An additional benefit of the ICS structure is the seamless integration with City, County, and State Emergency Management, Fire, and Police agencies.

Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program and LLIS.GOV allows us to create valuable exercises utilizing existing resources without having to reinvent the wheel and expend valuable organizational capital.

DHS Travelling Courses periodically DHS has courses which come through Seattle. In the recent past we have had courses on Surveillance Detection and Soft Target Terrorism Awareness.

Washington State Funded Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Training periodically courses are scheduled which have some seats available to owners and operators of Critical Infrastructure. When we are notified of available seating we get word out to our constituent agencies in a timely manner and usually fill all available seats.

State, County, and City Emergency Management interfaces with our emergency operations team and provide us with support and information before, during, and after an emergency event. Most recently were telephonic briefings on the H1N1 virus from the United States and Washington State Department of Health. These briefings provided timely information in to our agencies allowing them to institute protective measures and best practices to minimize the impact of an H1N1 outbreak.

Community Professionals within our community are a number of professionals who are not associated with a religious congregation these professionals many times belong to Jewish Community Support Agencies who during times of disaster can staff our Community EOC. EOC positions are determined based on the type of the event and the person best qualified to staff the positions for that emergency. Different emergencies require different skill sets.

Washington State Interfaith Disaster Recovery Organization (WIDRO) WIDRO was established at the urging of Governor Christine Gregoire, during the many emergencies we have had in Washington State it was discovered most people would go to a religious institution for assistance before they engage a State or Federal assistance office to that end WIDRO was created. Washington Interfaith Disaster Recovery Organization (WIDRO) is a network of faith-based groups committed to collaboratively maximizing the deployment of our respective resources when responding to Washington State disasters.

WIDRO provides an essential and primary link for communicating key information and guidance among faith-based groups / individuals / communities following a disaster event. WIDRO also engages in disaster related education, preparation and mitigation efforts between disaster events.

WIDRO maintains a network of people and organizations from faith based and secular organizations willing to share information, experiences, resources and strategies.

During an active disaster event and recovery activities, WIDRO will contact network partners providing services within impacted area and assess their potential capacity to respond.

Safe Washington Accomplishments

During the past year Safe Washington has had a number of successes which include operational responses, training sessions, table top exercises, briefings, grant awards, development of policies and procedures.

Training Sessions

During the past year many member agencies and the core team of been trained in the Incident Command System.

Training sessions have been held on Improvised Explosive Devices, Earthquake and Earthquake response, surveillance detection, terrorist planning cycle, H1N1, identifying Suspicious Behavior, and Soft Target Terrorism Awareness.

One table top exercise was held on a subduction zone earthquake which was based on the Sound Shake 08 exercise.

 

A table top exercise and full blown exercise on the subject of Active Shooter planning and response is scheduled for the first quarter 2010.

Fourth Quarter 2009 a workshop on Business Continuity Planning will be held.

Briefings have been provided by the Washington State Fusion Center, Washington National Guard, and the Department of Health. In November 2009 we are scheduled to have a briefing from Seattle Police Department on identifying signs of suspicious behavior and surveillance.

Through the efforts of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle a large number of Jewish organizations received UASI grants to upgrade security systems and conduct baseline risk, threat, and vulnerability assessments.

A direct result of the Table Top exercises was the sharing of policies, procedures, and best practices. Some agencies are better prepared than others. The better prepared agencies are more than willing to share their documents as templates for other less financially able organizations.

Recent Operational Successes

Through the ability to communicate through NWWARN;

• Two active surveillances were detected

• Two individuals who made threats and trespassed were charged and arrested

• During several instances critical situational information and reports were communicated within 60 seconds of notification.

• Real time H1N1 information brief by DOH was conducted

• An organized community effort to counter the danger posed from recent protests by the Westboro Baptist Church was accomplished.

• 30 seconds after the shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Museum all our constituent agencies were on modified lockdown.

Next Steps

• Seek and provide additional training opportunities

• Increase organizational membership

• Continue Incident Command Training

• Conduct a briefing and tour of our County Emergency Operations Center

• Conduct and Active Shooter Workshop, Table Top, and Full Blown Exercise

• Develop Comprehensive all hazard plans, policies, and procedures

• Conduct a workshop on Business Continuity and Develop Business Continuity Plans

• Create a situation where all agencies can meet Director Napolitano’s voluntary organizational resilience standards.

• Conduct Public Information Officer (PIO) training

 

 

Closing

Although this concept and plan of action was developed following a significant heartbreaking event in our community, by taking responsibility for our own needs we have successfully reduced the burden to municipal agencies resulting in a community which is better prepared to confront adversity and survive.

This could not have been done without the support of our dedicated core team, the Secure Community Network, NWWARN, and the various Municipal, State, and Federal agencies that have provided us training, support, and information.

The purpose of this paper is to document our process to date as it is repeatable in any community.

Please direct any questions or requests for additional information to Jeffrey A. Slotnick, PSP Secure Community Network and Setracon Inc. 253-538-9848, Jeff@setracon.com.

Thank you,

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