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Increasingly, Americans face several types of threats to our security, including natural, man-made, and technological. As threats intensify, the way public and private organizations work together must progress as well. Protecting citizens from security threats requires a comprehensive and strategic approach from all organizations within the field of emergency management. At Fors Marsh Group (FMG), we have been considering this and see three emerging trends that will make the country more prepared for whatever new threats come our way.

1. Targeted Communications with Behavior Change Science

FMG’s work sits at the intersection of data science and people, and we are focused on understanding how and why individuals make the risk-related decisions they do. Once we understand the why, we can then create communication strategies to help people make positive choices. FMG’s Communications Research and Strategy team has a long history of working in this space. We have shaped communication efforts on topics, including youth tobacco use prevention with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), improved nutrition among children for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), substance abuse by high-risk populations, and mental health in the Military. Studies conducted by FMG in these areas have also informed critical policy decisions as well. Often working in highly sensitive environments, we provide scientific evidence and expertise to create impactful communication solutions aimed at solving pressing health and risk challenges.

When it comes to disasters, we know that many Americans are not taking all the steps they should be taking to be prepared. Our Preparedness and Resilience team also works with partners across the country to deliver tailored messaging for vulnerable populations, such as low-income families, senior citizens, and people living in rural communities.

2. Recruiting the Next Generation of Emergency Managers

The core of our work is our commitment to helping people make the difficult choices that will improve their lives. We know emergency preparedness can be a tough sell, but our background in market research helps us get the message right, while our experience in workforce development and young adult engagement helps us find the next generation of leaders in the sector.

We are currently partnered with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps to develop marketing strategies for the recruitment of young adults for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Corps initiative. This opportunity encourages professional skills in emergency management while supporting FEMA on disaster response and recovery efforts.

Our team is also working directly with youth preparedness champions around the country, supporting regional Youth Preparedness Councils. These councils comprise 13–18-year-olds who want to lead a change in how our country prepares for disasters. They are leading projects in their own communities, using the newest technologies in social media and, sometimes, the oldest technologies (ham radios, anyone?). When it comes to motivating a community to make a change, the voice of one child can have a greater impact than all of the adults put together. We are proud to be supporting and coaching those voices to speak up for preparedness.

3. Engaging the Whole Community in Disaster Preparedness

It’s no longer enough for emergency managers to write an emergency response plan and put it in a binder on their shelf. FMG is working with local emergency management agencies at the county and state level to bring together all of their stakeholders for preparedness planning. Our work supporting and implementing FEMA’s Prepareathon program is focused on providing technical assistance to local groups who want to organize a whole community event—with an integrated strategy of public communications and outreach through institutions, leading to community events like tornado or earthquake drills. When everyone is part of practicing the plan, we know that communities are stronger and more resilient to emerging threats of all kinds.

We know that the threats to our nation are changing. Our Preparedness and Resilience portfolio is focused on making sure that more Americans are involved in their community’s emergency planning and that people receive information that motivates this generation and the next to be ready for whatever disasters come our way in the future.

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To take part in this evolution of emergency preparedness and resilience, FMG will be joining the conversation at the 2019 Preparedness Summit organized by the National Association of County and City Health Officials. This annual event brings together leaders from across the country who are focused on keeping the country safe from all kinds of threats—whether natural, man-made, or technological. This year’s event is focused on the evolving threat environment, which recognizes that it is going to take new approaches to solve the crises of the future. We look forward to connecting with others within the field to discuss, connect, and take part in adapting our nation’s approach to preparing for potential security threats.

About the author

Erin Lauer

Erin Lauer is an experienced program manager with expertise across operations, training, partnership, communications, knowledge management and outreach. She has focused over the past four years on designing and implementing emergency preparedness programs targeted at individuals, institutions and communities across the country.

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