Every day emergency personnel do courageous and heroic things without fanfare. Children and the elderly are rescued from fires. Ambulances transport the sick and injured to hospitals. Police arrest and interrogate suspects and lock up criminals without incident. When the big one happens government appears to be uncoördinated and things snowball out of control. Finger pointing and explanations that don’t explain are offered ad nauseam to the public in the aftermath.
When things fail to go as “planned” it is not because of the plan but the lack of practicing the plan, the lack of plan review and the lack of testing of the emergency plan. Emergency plans cannot be valid nor the assumptions they are based on are valid if the plan has never been tested. No one ever asked elected officials during press conferences, “How many times was the emergency plan tested?” May be you have heard the question asked but I have never heard the question posed.
The public is never updated when gaps in the planning process were overlooked or when the plan was found inadequate for any reason. Everyday decisions are made to change roads and adding pavement that can cause future flooding. Subdivisions are built without planning for the increased need for fire and police protection. Traffic patterns are changed brining in more vehicles but no increased in law enforcement personnel accompanies the change, so we wait longer for law enforcement and emergency medical personnel to arrive on the scene to aid us. Planning is a key element but more importantly is the need to test our plans and exercise them to make sure we get effective services to meet the challenges the plans show we need.