Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

National Preparedness Month: Unifying Regional Engagement

In a time when metropolitan areas contain distinct urban and rural communities, is it possible to effectively plan for the emergency preparedness of the entire population? The challenge lies in consolidating histories, needs and perspectives into a unified vision. This week’s National Preparedness Month blog post will explore how Hagerty Consulting (Hagerty) is supporting two urban-rural areas: the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) and East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGCOG).

The AACOG is made up of the City of San Antonio in Bexar County, Texas, and its 12 surrounding counties, ranging from populations of 707 to almost 2 million individuals. The EWGCOG is comprised of the City of St. Louis and seven counties that stretch across both Missouri and Illinois.

In the AACOG, Hagerty helped the region develop a planning program culminating in an update to the regional strategic plan. The development and update process involved both a regional visioning workshop and a capability, gaps and needs assessment. The workshop brought in over 40 individuals, from approximately 33 organizations, agencies and disciplines, to identify and prioritize AACOG regional goals and to develop implementation strategies, responsibilities and timelines. Outcomes from the workshop helped inform the focus of the capabilities, gaps, and needs assessment as the Hagerty Team reviewed regional plans and conducted interviews with response personnel and strategic planning committees across the region.

For the EWGCOG, Hagerty developed a Regional Healthcare Emergency Response Plan for the St. Louis Area Regional Response System (STARRS), a consortium of public and private organizations focused on addressing critical security needs in the region. Hagerty utilized a multi-planning team approach to establish a robust stakeholder engagement strategy, of both local and regional healthcare partners, and incorporate a decade of regional healthcare processes into a simple and operational plan. An important first step in achieving this was the in-person workshop, held in May 2018, which helped to clarify the mission of the stakeholders, define regional priorities, provide a forum for regional engagement and facilitate development of a strategic plan to address identified gaps in the regional healthcare system.

Due to competing priorities across these sizeable and diverse regions, Hagerty employed the following techniques over the course of the projects:

  • Encourage stakeholders to recommend and bring additional partners to the table. During initial and continued stakeholder engagement, Hagerty encouraged the participation of additional stakeholders, allowing for more diverse voices, including non-traditional stakeholders, such as private-sector entities.
  • Hear all perspectives. With large urban and rural areas, it is important to identify the needs of stakeholders in both geographic areas. The needs of a small county, while different in scope from a large metropolitan area, can be aligned so that all parties benefit. By forming this understanding, common gaps and solutions can be identified to better enhance preparedness throughout the region.
  • Adapt Engagement. To maximize stakeholder interactions and to collect key data and feedback needed to inform the project, a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works. In both projects, Hagerty tailored engagement with stakeholders to most effectively meet the clients’ needs and solicit information. In the AACOG, Hagerty met with regional strategic planning committee chairs to facilitate detailed discussions, such as interoperability of communications and hazard response teams. In the EWGCOG, individual interviews were held with stakeholders to discuss sensitive planning topics rather than in a large group setting.

Through the AACOG and EWGCOG projects, Hagerty had the opportunity to unite stakeholders across counties to enhance regional emergency preparedness. Hagerty utilized its expertise in planning to gain a comprehensive perspective of the needs in these regions and to develop solutions to benefit the large urban areas as well as their rural partners.

To learn more about additional preparedness services Hagerty offers to jurisdictions and regions of all sizes, please visit: http://hagertyconsulting.com/preparedness/.

Tylor Headrick is a Preparedness Managing Associate out of Hagerty’s Evanston office with a degree in geography and an emphasis in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from University of California Santa Barbara (2012). Tylor has engaged a variety of clients from Community Colleges to Nursing Homes to update and train on their preparedness documentation. When he is not running around emergency operations centers (EOCs), facilitating meetings and producing maps, he gets his exercise by cycling, sailin, and reading comics.

Carla Decina is a Preparedness Managing Associate out of San Diego with a Master’s degree in Public Health. Currently, she is supporting recovery projects on the west coast as well as Hagerty’s long-term care facility emergency preparedness work. In between project work and travel, she enjoys exploring new recipes, relaxing at the beach (yes, she gets her hair wet) and learning new languages. What use are the romance languages if you can’t say emergency preparedness in Spanish, French, Portuguese or Italian!?

Tayler Lorence is a Preparedness Associate out of Hagerty’s DC office with a Master’s degree in Emergency Management. Prior to joining Hagerty, Tayler worked for the Emergency Management Department in Los Angeles, developing plans and working with urban communities to facilitate whole community preparedness. In her off time, Tayler reads more about (you guessed it) emergency management and disasters, with a healthy dose of travel writing and serious fiction. She likes traveling, photography and growing plants.