Security is a Vital Consideration in the Emergency Management Landscape

TASA ID: 8635

Traditionally, the role of Emergency Management was defined as a planning and support mechanism dealing with risk and risk avoidance of a broad range of situations and events. Emergency management professionals were normally tasked for disaster planning, emergency communications, operating command centers, and securing funding for mitigation and recovery. Therefore, Emergency Managers have historically had closer relationships with the fire service than the security and law enforcement communities. However, it is undeniable that emergency management is integral to the security of an area or organization, and its integration with the security planning and response landscape is vital in addition to current roles in response to major disasters. 

Since 1803, the role of Emergency management morphed from a congressional act to provide financial assistance to local jurisdictions following disasters to civil defense functions to a current all-hazards approach to continuity of government and disaster recovery. Emergency managers are responsible for planning for worst-case scenarios. With the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Government’s ultimate obligation is to help state, local or individual entities with funding, equipment and manpower support in overwhelming circumstances. Emergency Managers in the private and nongovernmental sector are responsible for the safety of their assets and continuity of essential operations. Interestingly enough, staffing and even the existence of Offices of Emergency Management within state and local government agencies, critical infrastructure, education and business varies widely depending on the area and the scope of an organization. While the validity of the function of emergency management has never fallen into question; the landscape has clearly changed with the addition of terrorist and active shooter incidents to already-prevalent natural disasters.

The problem is how widely Emergency Management disciplines vary from place-to-place. Issues are presented when the plans, capabilities and/or management of the state and local partners receiving emergency management assistance are presented with operational issues that may cause obstacles to disaster prevention, mitigation and/or recovery. This is best illustrated in looking at New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. In both cases, federal emergency managers were widely criticized for their response; but both cases illustrate record numbers of disaster relief. In analyzing the lesser-publicized gaps in mitigation and recovery in New Orleans and Puerto Rico, clear discrepancies come into focus when agencies receiving support lack prerequisite planning, infrastructure or operational capabilities necessary to effectively receive and deploy emergency management support. 

Now, consider your relationship between security management and emergency management. In many cases, the two are not in lock-step. For example, in spending almost nine years acting in the capacities as the Chief Security Officer, Head of Investigations and Emergency Manager for North America’s largest medical board; I led planning, drills and audits for both life safety hazards and potential crimes. As the medical board administers secure examinations which are copyrighted trade secrets, the workplace is secured in a similar manner to governmental offices where classified information may be stored. However, if one can neutralize organizational security measures by presenting a secondary emergency (like a fire alarm); this creates a conflict between security policy and local laws requiring access doors to automatically unlock, enabling criminals to simply steal from an unlocked facility.

By successfully organizing these three roles into one directorate; I was able to work with cross-functional staff to create policies, procedures and countermeasures that would allow the organization to protect its human, physical and intellectual assets in an efficient way that brought both emergency mitigation/safety and security into consideration. This highlights the need to create an emergency management function in security management roles. Jurisdictions that already have emergency managers can also assess current operations and seek to create pre-incident working relationships with law enforcement and security agencies (who are normally the incident commanders in most man-made disasters, such as terrorist incidents). An example of this on the federal level was illustrated when President George W. Bush signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 into law, creating the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The act charged the new cabinet-level agency with the mission of protecting the United States from terrorist attacks and minimizing the damage from attacks and disasters. This act incorporated FEMA into DHS, but as the lead intelligence and investigative agencies into possible terrorist attacks, like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), remained in the Department of Justice; which may have inadvertently kept some of the silos DHS’ formation was intended to prevent, alive. 

Assuring that Emergency Management coordinates effectively with all facets of public safety is a key function of mitigation. Mitigation differs from the other emergency management disciplines in that it presents long-term solutions to reducing risk as opposed to merely accepting that risks exist and preparing, responding to, or recovering to their eventuality. While mitigation is currently considered part of emergency management, it is not always performed in the planning phases for security-led incidents; even though law enforcement accounts for one-third of a region’s public safety community. 

Mitigation involves, coordination across a wide spectrum of public and private sector stakeholders. In looking at the local-level response to Hurricane Katrina; proper mitigation and emergency management coordination on the part of the city and/or transit authority would likely have prevented the sizable fleet of buses from being parked in a lot susceptible to flooding, rendering considerable evacuation capabilities ineffective. Now, consider organizational emergency planning and ask yourselves if you’ve looked at mitigating response capabilities to security incidents, such as active shooter incidents. As these mass-casualty incidents have been proven to occur in rural/suburban areas as much as they occur in large metro areas with multiple hospitals and salaried fire services; professional emergency management is essential in gauging the capability to respond to, mitigate and recover from such an incident.

A positive sign that, on the federal level, the emergency management function is heading in the right direction lies with President Trump’s appointment of Brock Long as FEMA Administrator. Before being placed at the head of FEMA, Long worked for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and was the State Emergency Manager in Alabama; a hurricane and flood prone state with low funding and minimal professional public safety staffing. The appointment of a career Emergency Manager to the head of FEMA marks a drastic departure from prior administrations; who normally appointed politically-connected Administrators with no prior experience in disasters. This can further be improved upon at FEMA and in other emergency management agencies by staffing to include members with law enforcement and all-hazards operational experience.

With FEMA revamping its operations and staffing up in response to the brutal 2017 hurricane season that brought Harvey, Irma and Maria to our shores; one has to ask if state, local and private emergency management capabilities are also rising to meet America’s modern threat matrix? At its simplest, many American emergency managers outside of the federal government and larger states and cities performs basic business continuity planning to ensure basic incident survival. Security threats must be considered essential the operational survival of local jurisdictions, businesses and nongovernmental organizations. Therefore, emergency management has to expand to include a concern for security planning to ensure the physical safety of first responders and stakeholders.

A good diagnosis can be in measuring your emergency management capabilities with questions such as:

  • If a local jurisdiction is growing exponentially, beyond its critical infrastructure; is the current state of their local emergency management planning for the growth and forecasting worst-case scenario needs up the chain of command?
  • If a transit agency’s emergency plans rely on local emergency management capabilities; is that done from their having an independent office of emergency management that can weigh its geographic footprint in areas that may have minimal first responder capabilities?
  • Does your private sector organization encompass the principals of professional corporate security and emergency management into business continuity planning?
  • If you are reliant upon the capabilities of public sector stakeholders in emergency management; have you evaluated the effectiveness and track record of their plans and performance when doing your own internal emergency management planning?

Hopefully, these questions are cause for meaningful discussion and analysis within your organization. For further assistance, contact your local FEMA regional office, State Emergency Management Agency or a professional like myself for a consultation.

Author (TASA ID: 8635), MA, CPP, CESP is the former Director, Office of Investigations at the American Board of Internal Medicine. He has served in both federal & municipal law enforcement officer, intelligence and homeland security capacities throughout the US. He currently serves as a Governor on the Executive Board of InfraGard, the FBI-coordinated public-private partnership and is TASA-Registered Expert Witness.The author (TASA ID: 8635) is available for consultation. 

TASA Article Disclaimer

This article discusses issues of general interest and does not give any specific legal or business advice pertaining to any specific circumstances.  Before acting upon any of its information, you should obtain appropriate advice from a lawyer or other qualified professional.

This article may not be duplicated, altered, distributed, saved, incorporated into another document or website, or otherwise modified without the permission of TASA and the author (TASA ID: 8635). Contact for any questions.

Previous 3 Things That Make a Good Plastic Surgery Expert Witness
Next What I’ve Learned As An Expert Witness
Tasa ID8635


Let Us Find Your Expert 

Note: This form is to be completed by legal and insurance professionals ONLY. If you are a party in a case that requires an expert witness, please have your attorney contact TASA at 800-523-2319.


Search Experts

TASA provides a variety of quality, independent experts who meet your case criteria. Search our extensive list of experts now.

Search Experts


  • I think it's always good to have access to experts when [TASA] make[s] the process so easy."

    Scott McIntosh, Lewis McIntosh & Teare, Royersford, PA

  • As a busy practitioner, managing a sizeable caseload, I can use all of the help available to me. If I can outsource a task, particularly one as important as securing a qualified expert, I will jump at the opportunity. I use TASA in nearly every case where I need to find an expert witness, be it an engineer, an architect, an economist, etc. They have thousands of qualified experts to refer in virtually any field. Best of all the process is extremely simple. When I need an expert I simply contact TASA, whose knowledgeable representatives ask you targeted questions about your case, your legal theories, and your goals, in order to find the right expert for your case. I usually receive CVs and calls from the potential expert within hours. If you find the originally selected person is not a good fit – for whatever reason – TASA will work with you to find the right person. I would happily recommend this service to any attorney."

    Patrick K. Gibson, Gibson & Perkins PC, Media, PA

  • Ms. Darlie I. McDonald RN was awesome on the witness stand, and we prevailed in our case to the tune of  [a] (highly unusual [amount] for a medical malpractice [case] in our area).  I'd highly recommend her."

    Shane Reed, Shane A. Reed Law Office, Jacksonville, OR

  • I appreciate your inquiries and offers of assistance as well as the consistently high-quality, well-organized, and erudite TASA webinars, which invariably have excellent presenters."

    Maurice S. Kane, Cummings McClorey Davis Acho and Associates PC, Riverside, CA

  • Steven Kursh was an outstanding technical expert on our ecommerce IP lawsuit. He completed a massive amount of work on extremely complicated material, in a very short period of time. His work product was first rate and I think he would have done a terrific job if the case proceeded to trial. He is very articulate and helped us. I only wish we had gotten him involved sooner in the litigation."

    Daniel J. Brown, Reiss Sheppe LLP, New York, NY

  • I thank you all for the response to my request for an expert witness...Both Mr. Scott and Mr. Bianchi appear to be well-qualified for this case, but we have hired another expert. As always, I was impressed by TASA's ability to produce exceptionally well-qualified candidates with great speed."

    John Thomas Dzialo, The Law Offices of John Thomas Dzialo, Santa Ana, CA

  • Thank you for your quick response and the names of the two proposed experts. The situation that gave rise to our search for these experts has resolved and we will not need to retain them. However, we will continue to keep TASA in mind as these needs arise from time to time as your breadth of coverage for experts of all types is unparalleled, in my experience."

    Bart W. Brizzee, County of San Bernadino, San Bernadino, CA

  • I have used TASA for the last five years for locating an expert for many personal injury cases. On each and every occasion, TASA was able to find me more than one qualified expert. With such a variety of experts, I was able to select one who met my client's needs in prosecuting these claims. I found the experts TASA referred not only qualified, but available on a moment's notice. Your fees are reasonable and fair, and I will continue to use TASA for the remainder of my career."

    Robert Oushalem, Esq., The Law Office of Robert Oushalem, San Jose, CA

  • I recently used TASA for the first time to locate an expert to testify in a case requiring rather unusual expertise and where there were no applicable regulations or standards for guidance. TASA referred an expert in California who was everything a lawyer looks for in a forensic expert. He was promptly available for consultation, efficiently prepared for deposition and trial and very persuasive and credible with the jury. TASA's administrative services and assistance in locating this expert were excellent, and we would certainly use both the expert and TASA in the future."

    Theodore Phillips, Miller Hauser Law Group, LLP, Placerville, CA

  • TASA has always given me first-class service, but in a recent matter, TASA found the 'needle-in-the-haystack' expert witness we feared didn't exist. We needed an expert for a very narrow and limited issue in a very narrow and limited industry. Because TASA has an extensive expert witness database, it was able to give us a referral almost on the spot. It's why I always turn to TASA first."

    Kathleen A. Herdell, Law Offices of Kathleen A. Herdell, St. Helena, CA

  • There are numerous companies that provide litigation experts. However, I always choose the TASA Group because of their quick response in finding a qualified expert for my particular case. I have extreme confidence in the TASA Group and will continue to use their services in the future."

    Katie A. Killion, Esq., Chiurazzi & Mengine, LLC, Pittsburgh, PA

  • I spent hours trying to locate an expert in a very technical case involving a defect in a medical device. I could have saved a lot of time by calling TASA first. Within hours, I was supplied with the name of an engineer who had more than 30 years of job training, education and expertise in the precise area involving the device. Bravo TASA!"

    Timothy W. Peach, Partner, Peach & Weathers, San Bernardino, CA

  • We were involved in a case pending for more than five years with seven parties from three states. Three mediations failed before we looked to TASA for an expert. TASA referred an expert who clearly understood the complexity of the project and could effectively support his opinion. If it weren't for his expert advice and deposition testimony, the case would not have settled. Interestingly, the case settled within 90 days from the date this expert began."

    Renee Colbert, Esq., Corporate Counsel, W.G. Tomko, Inc., Finleyville, PA

  • Using TASA to find experts for defending our client in a negligent homicide case ended up being one of the most important decisions we made in trial preparation. The experts they suggested were exactly what we needed for the case. I truly did not expect to find experts that would be such a perfect fit for the nature of case. TASA provided us with highly qualified experts in somewhat narrow fields of expertise. A large percentage of our victory is due to the experts recommended by TASA."

    Marta Farmer, Esq., Carl S. White Law Office, Haver, MT

  • I have used TASA's services since the 1980's and have never been disappointed. TASA is indispensable for locating that hard-to-find expert. TASA representatives have always been courteous and pleasant, with the attitude that they cannot do enough to help. I expect to continue using TASA throughout my career."

    Brad W. Greenberg, Esq., Smyth Law Offices, P.C., Brockton, MA

  • I needed to retain a multitude of scientists from a variety of disciplines for a complex litigation. Initially, I went through a series of interviews with an extremely knowledgeable and professional team of TASA advisors. They were able to find highly qualified experts in the specific fields, all of whom turned out to be superior in qualification and area of expertise to my adversary’s experts. I am a TASA believer!"

    Nooshin Namazi, Partner, Nicoletti Hornig & Sweeney, New York, NY

  • TASA always comes through in the difficult IP cases. Their representatives work with you to refine the search criteria and quickly send you a list of very qualified experts."

    Timothy L. Boller, Principal, Seed Intellectual Property Law Group, PLLC, Seattle, WA

  • Special thanks to our TASA referral advisor for her quick response to our initial request—we were extremely happy with how fast TASA was able to assist us! Your group does excellent work, and it is always my first stop when looking for an expert."

    Susanne K. Sullivan, Senior Attorney, Southwest Airlines Corporation, Dallas, TX

  • When we needed an expert in a patent infringement lawsuit, we turned to TASA. We were looking for a witness qualified in two unrelated technical areas, and TASA worked with us to identify and refine our requirements. TASA performed well, promptly providing us with several excellent candidates to consider, one of whom we retained."

    Joseph T. Miotke, Partner, IP Practice Group, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, Milwaukee, WI

  • Our team had a very positive experience with TASA. The Expert was professional, efficient, and certainly an expert in his field. His work and testimony contributed to a winning decision for our client! We will recommend the Expert and TASA whenever appropriate."

    Stephanie Sprague, Esq., CT

  • (The Expert) WAS A PERFECT FIT for my case: qualified, competent, easy to work with, attentive to detail, knowledgeable, smart, communicative, enthusiastic, resourceful—have I left anything out? I highly recommend TASA and would be happy to share my experience with anyone else. Thank you!"

    Michael Porrazzo, Esq., The Porrazzo Law Firm, Mission Viejo, CA

  • The expert was very thorough. TASA was quick to respond with an answer to my request. I have used TASA in the past under various other law firms and have been pleased. TASA continues to live up to expectations and then some."

    Anne Desormier-Cartwright, Esq., Jupiter, FL

  • Your organization found us an appropriate expert witness in less than one day. This was excellent service. The expert you found was excellent and a pleasure to work with."

    William A. Ehrlich, Esq., Allentown, PA

  • (The Expert)…accomplished exactly what we wanted. TASA was very prompt and efficient in locating him. All fees were reasonable."

    J. Michael Lehman, Esq., Bruce, Bruce, & Lehman, Wichita, KS

  • We needed an Internet expert right away to meet a deadline. One phone call to TASA, and in less than a day, TASA called back with a list of 8-10 experts who were exactly what I needed. The TASA expert I chose knew the business and mechanics of the Internet so well—he was a PhD and professor who had written a book on the subject—that he put the fear of truth in the defendant that caused him to settle. When I get the kind of service that I did from TASA, I stick with it and use it again and again."

    Philip Green, Attorney at Law, Green and Green, San Rafael and San Francisco, CA

  • Excellent—in a word. I just do not have the time to hunt for experts. (The Expert) was fantastic. Thank you for providing such a quality service."

    Francesca Carinci, Esq., Steubenville, OH

  • TASA stands for Tops At Serving Attorneys. It’s always rewarding working with TASA."

    Marshall A. Bernstein, Esq., Philadelphia, PA.