This book is essentially a critique of contemporary emergency response which, in both the public perception and, unfortunately, in the mind-set of many practicing professionals emphasizes an emergency as a singular event. It is a mistaken view: an emergency is actually a sequence of multiple, singular events that unfold over time….. sometimes measured in days and weeks and, most often, in months, years and decades. It is one thing to put a wildfire out, but what of the varied consequences of that wildfire? Certainly, it takes a good deal of expertise and bravery to extinguish a wildfire. But it also takes a wide variety of equal expertise to ameliorate if not rectify the personal, social, economic, psychological, environmental, and even political ramifications of that fire. We absolutely need fire-fighters; they and their skills are indispensable. So are those sociologists, biologists, economists, environmentalists, systems-analysists and politicians who have to deal with the after-fire, subsequent emergencies. A loss of jobs is as much an emergency as the fire that caused a loss of jobs; disease spread from melted water and sewer lines is as much an emergency as that same fire.
Both nationally and internationally, an emergency is sounded by a cacophony of bells, whistles and horns. And, when the immediate emergency event (fire, flood, earthquake, etc.) is seemingly over there is dead silence….yet the dire consequences of that single event are most likely just beginning…..and soon, by some magic of social-conscience, overlooked and finally forgotten in a so called "Return to Normal".
Unless one measures time in terms of a few years up to 25 years (a new generation in biological parlance), there is no such thing as a "Return to Normal". We live in a world of constant change. It is simply a matter of being willing to recognize a "New Normal" instead of holding fast to "what used to be, but isn't any more". This book focuses on the need, in the current (not the long gone) past generation to revamp our thinking about planning for and responding comprehensively to those periodic disruptions to daily routine we call "emergencies"