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Government Cutbacks in Emergency Preparedness Put Onus on the Private Sector

A story by CBS reporter Brian Montopoli highlighted how massive spending cuts are negatively impacting emergency preparation programs across the country, noting that, “Organizations such as FEMA have made significant cuts to disaster preparedness funding as they have grappled with budget shortfalls and growing debt. With… further budget cuts looming and (more) belt-tightening expected in the future, disaster preparedness experts warn that decreases in funding are leaving the nation at risk.”

Government budgets are increasingly set up as reactive instead of proactive because it’s generally easier to drum up support for aid following disasters than to approve funding in order to prepare for them. What’s more, recovery from massive disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, which is already at $50 billion, require the lion’s share of disaster funding—so less monies are available on the side of disaster preparation.

According to Congressman David Price, who chaired the House Appropriations homeland security subcommittee, that trend will continue, “Congress appropriated $3.05 billion to FEMA for preparedness grants designed to (help) prevent, protect, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. In fiscal year 2012, that appropriation was less than half that figure—$1.35 billion. (The same) can also be seen in FEMA pre-disaster mitigation grants, which fell from $100 million in 2010 to $35.5 million two years later.”

With less government funding available now and even fewer dollars expected in the future, the onus for disaster preparation falls squarely on the shoulders of the private sector. Cognizant of this, FEMA has started actively engaging representatives of the community in disaster preparation, noting, “The private sector is a vital part of the emergency management team. We see the nation’s vast network of business, industry, academia, trade associations, and other non-governmental organizations as equal – and equally responsible – partners in every phase from preparedness to response and recovery to mitigation.”

FEMA’s private sector initiatives include: “investing and building bridges to businesses and other non-governmental organizations to develop meaningful public private partnerships and facilitate private sector innovation and networking across FEMA. In doing so, we’ve been expanding our portfolio of initiatives and activities with the private sector to increase our return on investment and whole community approach to disaster readiness, response, and recovery.”

FEMA’s Private Sector Initiative is a 90-day rotational private sector seat in the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) to support Emergency Support Function. Taking part in the program helps business owners and private citizens understand the importance of taking ownership of their own disaster preparation instead of relying on the government for aid before, during and after any given emergency.

Another way to support FEMA’s efforts is to privately invest in disaster training for employees and tenants of residential and commercial properties. To do this, subscribe to The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services. The system helps commercial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes using an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system, which motivates and rewards tenants instantly. It is a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your building(s). Choosing this service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves users more than 50% compared to conventional training! Most importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!

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