The Lieutenant came by my duty post today and told me that we all need to complete an online course sponsored by FEMA. He gave me an instruction sheet, so I cranked up the computer and took the course. All about Incident Management. Big incidents, little incidents, all kinds of incidents. It talked about using multiple agencies for a common purpose and gave some pretty good pointers about how to get things done.
Understand, though, my first twenty years were spent in and around tiny agencies. Agencies so small that you had to have a good working relationship with the other agencies in the area to get anything done. I've worked incidents with six or seven different agencies all involved in a common purpose. In small town Louisiana it's the only way to get something done.
Then, in the past four years I've worked through the quadruple tragedies of Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. Multiple agencies working across jurisdictional lines and multiple disciplines (try blending law enforcement, fire responders, telephone, electrical utilities, and other disciplines after a tragedy) while protecting and preserving life and infrastructure.
There's very little that FEMA can tell us about Incident Management. We're darned good at it. Still, I took their silly little course. Now I have a certificate that says I know my job. Sometimes it is all about the paperwork.