FEMA has just released the National Preparedness Report for 2012 and it makes for interesting reading. The NPR is intended to report on progress towards developing the capabilities outlined in the National Preparedness Goal. This is the second year that the report has been published.
What I found interesting was the summary of current capabilities. As will come as no surprise to those who have followed my blog for any length of time or have read my book, the summary demonstrates a clear focus on response at the expense of other areas of emergency management. Indeed, the five "high priority" capabilities are all response oriented.
This is neither surprising nor necessarily a bid thing. With limited resources, jurisdictions focus on developing the capacity to respond to the initial event and place reliance in mutual aid and the Federal government. This is borne out by another portion of the report that deals with addressing capability gaps and demonstrates a reliance on Federal support. However, several of the areas that are neglected (such as long term vulnerability reduction at 39%) can have a direct bearing on response capabilities.
What is surprising and disappointing to me is how low hazard identification and resilience assessment scored. Only 45-46% of the respondents rated this as a current capability. As I noted above vulnerability reduction (i.e. mitigation) scored even lower at 39%. These are core components of an emergency management program. All planning must begin with an understanding of risk in relation to the vulnerability of the community. If the states and territories that responded to the survey don't believe they have these capabilities, how can we expect local jurisdictions to do so?
If we truly want to achieve the National Preparedness Goal, we have to do better.