Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

The Hagerty Advantage – Our People: David Schuld

Lead of the Active Threat Portfolio David Schuld at a Unified Command Exercise

What did you do before you joined Hagerty?

My experiences prior to Hagerty had me cross the Atlantic, work with diplomats, elected officials, and armed forces from around the world. For a guy from small-town Ohio, I never imagined what I have had the honor of working on. The journey, while long, helped me build the knowledge and skills that I use every day in Hagerty’s Active Threat Portfolio.

I initially took an interest in the peacemaking process and perspectives—the need to understand varying points of view to solve complex challenges—which took me to Brussels, where I worked as a staffer in the European Parliament. I developed reports for parliamentarians on the complicated international issues of the day, including anti-piracy on the Horn of Africa, North Korea, and the relationship between European and the United States armed forces.

David at the European Parliament’s seat in Strasbourg, France (2009)

Returning to the United States, I worked as the military legislative advisor on Capitol Hill. My portfolio included defense, foreign affairs, veterans, and homeland security issues—in addition to supporting the management of the congressional office staff in Washington, DC. Between my time working in legislatures in Europe and in our Nation’s capital, I learned how  to apply critical analysis that would ultimately inform policy development.

David receiving his Air Command and Staff College diploma from Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, General Norton Schwartz (2011)

After working on Capitol Hill, I worked for the British Army, helping to maintain the strong relationship between the British and American land forces. During my time in British Defence Staff – United States, I learned the value of interoperability and partnership between organizations to effectively achieve mission objectives. This experience allowed me to better understand the activities across levels of operation (tactical, operational, and strategic) that Hagerty has applied to active threat preparedness. It was my life’s privilege to work with the men and women serving in armed forces around the world.

David at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. (2013)

I was promoted within the British Embassy as the British Government’s Crisis Management Advisor in the United States, where I found my passion for emergency management. I coordinated emergency operations planning, training, and exercises for crisis operations. My work included supporting evacuation of tourists, coordinating the Ebola response in West Africa, and supporting other disasters around the world. It is during this time that my interest in active threat began, and where I appreciated the need for and complexities of multi-agency response in disasters.

How has working at Hagerty grown your understanding of emergency management?

Growing Hagerty’s Active Threat Portfolio has greatly increased my understanding and appreciation for the unique challenges that communities face to prepare for, respond to, and fully recover from an active threat event. Some of these considerations include the application of incident command concepts like Unified Command and Unified Area Command, the human services response that includes family reunification and witness management, the role of social media in notifications and messaging, and the road to a new normal through the development of a robust community resilience strategy. My previous experiences working in the United States and across the world were invaluable as Hagerty’s Active Threat Portfolio sought to develop a comprehensive approach to strengthen capabilities used in the life cycle of an active threat.

I am grateful to be leading Hagerty’s Active Threat Portfolio, and seeing it become a national center of excellence in the development of analysis and applying best practices in active threat response and recovery. We understand the challenges that may appear through preparedness activities, including plan development, training, and exercises, and we are knowledgeable on the solutions that can help a community address those challenges. With each active threat event that occurs, Hagerty assists communities to analyze the issues that arose and inform how to better prevent, mitigate, respond, and recover from future events.

David controlling unified command operations during a regional drill in St. Louis (2019)

What do you believe are the most important steps of helping clients prepare for active threats in their region?

Active threat preparedness is a complex issue to prepare for. There are four primary steps that communities must consider when preparing for active threats:

  1. Understand the risk. Communities and regions need to realize that no community is immune from these horrific events taking place. Thankfully, there is a growing understanding that active threats can occur in any location.
  2. Involve partners from across the community in planning. Active threat preparedness requires the involvement of a wide array of stakeholders in developing and agreeing to concepts of operations. These stakeholders can include traditional public safety agencies, city departments, public information officers, community organizations and partners like schools, houses of worship, public venues, private sector partners, and volunteer organizations active in disasters.
  3. Empower people to act. Your plans and concepts should empower individuals to act in order to save lives. Time is a precious commodity in the response to an active threat event, and first responders and the general public should not have to ask for permission to save lives.
  4. Revise your approach. Be prepared to examine and revise concepts of operation as future active threats occur and as the understanding of preparedness evolves over time.

David Schuld is the Lead of the Active Threat Portfolio at Hagerty, where he manages a group of subject matter experts to help support the development of plans, training, and exercises related to active threats, such as active shooters, vehicular attacks, and CCTAs. Prior to joining Hagerty, David was the British Government’s Crisis Management Advisor for the US, leading emergency preparedness cooperation and coordination from the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. For more information about how Hagerty can help your organization, visit our active threat event preparedness page here.