American Preparedness Security Initiative Part II: Why Engage Community Colleges?

To further national critical infrastructure and preparedness policies, programs, and goals, APSI will issue a bold call to action to community colleges nationwide. It will bring to bear untapped awareness, education, and certification capabilities to develop a new and objectively measurable culture of national preparedness. Serving as a national academic leader, I know first-hand the value of our local institutions of higher education. There are 1,462 community colleges supporting 12.7 million students a year. It is their mission to address the skills gap and translate new knowledge into action. As the center of community gravity, these institutions serve every student who walks through their doors. This broad audience ranges from preschool children and their parents to traditional-aged college students, working adults, career changers, employers, and those learning in retirement. As a proponent of opportunity, equity, and academic excellence, two-year colleges take progressive ideas and produce dramatic change. This initiative will leverage about half of the community colleges, or about 712, to build a constantly qualified, current, and replenished cadre of preparedness professionals and citizens. This program will provide the tools and respect to leverage commitment to continuously build safer, stronger, and better American communities and, by extension, a safer, stronger, and better America. APSI is a mechanism to improve existing community preparedness plans, programs, and efforts because standing still and maintaining the status quo is going backward.

Former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate recently shared his view of “The 7 Deadly Sins of Emergency Management,” and they are as follows:

  • We plan for what we are capable of responding to
  • We plan for our communities by placing the too hard to do in an annex (elderly, disabled, children, pets)
  • We exercise to success
  • We think our emergency response system can scale up from emergency response to disasters
  • We build our emergency management team around Government, leaving out volunteer organizations, the private sector, and the public
  • We treat the public as a liability
  • We price risk too low to change behavior, as a result, we continue to grow risk

We all agree that there are inextricable interdependencies between critical infrastructure and communities nationwide, and their reliance on an Internet and technologies that we don’t control means that we share common and increasingly exploitable vulnerabilities and that we are all in the preparedness fight together.

America’s academic leaders recognize that “today’s students encounter unprecedented challenges in their lives and work that require them to exercise capacities for resilience. Resilience can be understood in many ways, in terms of one’s capacities for persistence, creativity, emotional intelligence, grit, cognitive flexibility, risk-taking, agency, adapting to change, delaying gratification, learning from failure, and questioning success.” We reinforce that “institutions of higher education have an important role to play in helping young people develop these capacities” (Harvard Resilience Consortium). APSI will provide the tools, motivation, and support to promulgate resilient-based community preparedness.

The Frederick Community College Mid-Atlantic Center for Emergency Management (MACEM) possesses over 18 years of expertise in support of FEMA national preparedness programs. The MACEM also possesses operationally proven expertise in preparedness communication, education, training, certification, and innovation. The MACEM has acquired a rich network of established relationships within FEMA preparedness partners and serves as a known and trusted leader of two-year colleges nationwide. As pioneers in resilience, thought leadership, and preparedness solutions, the MACEM trains over 3,000 local, state, and federal professionals each year. It also serves as a bridge to the next step in the academic continuum to the BS-, MS-, and PhD-awarding institutions and the workforce. The MACEM is located in central Maryland, allowing access to national decision makers and access to something that the virtual world does not have: interpersonal communications, insights, and the human-to human contact, real-time, real-place exchange of energy and actionable information.

References:

Former FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate (https://www.facebook.com/search/str/seven+deadly+sins+of+emergency+management/keywords_search)

Harvard Resilience Consortium (https://resilienceconsortium.bsc.harvard.edu/about)

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education (https://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Index.aspx) and the American Association of Community Colleges (https://www.aacc.nche.edu/)

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