Whole Community Emergency Management approaches to emergency management should be focused on all members of the community, not just specific individuals and groups.


Whole Community Emergency Management focusing on all individuals and groups is especially important for communities and organizations that are rural. In a rural community, there are often very little individuals that are willing to assist with whole community emergency management efforts so it is important for emergency management and community officials to not discriminate against people within the community wishing to help out. Integrate all persons and groups and find something, anything for them to do for your community’s whole community emergency management efforts. Even if someone has some characteristic that stops them from doing most normal things, it doesn’t mean it should stop them from participating in whole community emergency management.


Whole Community Emergency Management


Whole Community Emergency Management Participation: Youth

Children and youth are fairly useful participants in whole community emergency management if you could believe it. Most people wouldn’t wish to include children and youth in such activities because they are young and it could be a liability. However, not including children and youth could create more problems for a community than using them in the first place. Small towns and rural communities are often ‘boring’ to children and youth due to the limited amount of fun activities for them to participate in. The boredom is often an initiator for children and youth to start participating in destructive and/or illegal activities such as vandalism, drug and alcohol use and even theft. Whole community emergency management efforts directed at what excites members of the youth community will not only keep youths out of trouble but it can help make a community much more resilient to disasters, hazards and risks.


There are numerous types of whole community emergency management activities that children and youths can be participating in as well. Volunteer programs such as Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), volunteer youth firefighting, youth law enforcement explorers and local community-based action programs provide grand opportunities for children and youth to become involved in local community efforts of whole community emergency management. Another opportunity for children and youths to participate in whole community emergency management is to be directly involved in planning whereas children and youths will be involved in areas that are being planned like school emergency management and what not. Young people often have great insight in this area and since it is their actual safety that is being planned for, they can often answer a lot of questions for planning personnel.


Whole Community Emergency Management Participation: Senior Citizens

Just because you reach a certain age or must accept the fact that it is time to retire doesn’t mean that you should be excluded from participating in local activities like whole community emergency management and related efforts. There are actually many seniors out there who take part time jobs even when they can afford not to just so that they can remain busy and do something with their time. Some experts believe that when a senior citizen retires and starts doing nothing, their health and days start to dramatically decrease. Emergency management is a whole community effort and seniors, being alive for so long, gaining that experience and knowledge can actually provide a lot of great insight for whole community emergency management efforts.


There are numerous things for senior citizens to participate in, in terms of rural whole community emergency management efforts. One particular area is assisting in the organization and management of a neighborhood community crime watch organization, helping out as a volunteer at a local hospital or healthcare organizations and assisting with clerical and resource inventory tasks during emergency management and incident management operations. Senior citizens, especially those who have retired have earned their right to not be forced into hard and strenuous work so it is important to assign them tasks that favors their condition and their wishes. If they want to work hard and are able to, give them something challenging to do. If they want to take it easy, give them something easy to do. In the end, we should respect our elders because we can often learn a thing or two from them after it is all said and done.


How is your local Whole Community Emergency Management participation going?

Does your local community focus on all individuals of the community that can participate in whole community emergency management activities? What other groups are often singled out for whole community emergency management activities but can usually provide very good participants in such activities? Please comment below with your thoughts, ideas, opinions and questions about integrating everyone in whole community emergency management efforts.


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This article was written by Shawn J. Gossman, BS, MS, SEM. Shawn is a developing expert in rural emergency management and rural business continuity. Shawn holds a bachelor and master degree concentrating in emergency management and public health. Shawn is a professionally certified Specialist in Emergency Management (SEM). Shawn serves as the Assistant Fire Chief for the rural Village of Bush, Illinois.

About the Author

Shawn J. Gossman
Shawn J. GossmanB.S., M.S., M.B.A., SEM, PDS
Shawn J. Gossman is an article and publication contributor of rural and remote-based emergency management, continuity and public health topics. Shawn holds a Master of Science concentrating in Emergency Management and a MBA in Hazardous Environment Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Shawn is dedicated to helping rural communities and organizations be a part of the Whole Community approach of National Preparedness.