The Top 7 Critical Incidents That Keep Emergency Managers Awake at Night

What is the one emergency situation that keeps professional emergency managers awake at night? Given that emergency managers have extensive knowledge about a wide range of disasters and must constantly be prepared for the worst, it is extremely telling to know what type of incident they consider to be the nightmare scenario.

At the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Annual Conference held recently in Savannah, Georgia, we conducted a survey asking emergency professionals from various agencies, industries, and organizations a number of questions about preparedness, emergency planning and response, technology solutions, and the top concern that keeps them up at night.

Any guesses about what was the most frequent answer? What would you say?

Hurricanes? Winter storms? Zombie apocalypse? (many were overheard pondering this one, but presumably answered otherwise). We’ll tell you shortly…

Survey Participants

For background, around 60% of those participating in the survey came from government agencies, the majority of those from county governments. The next largest percentage was from federal agencies. Roughly 22% of surveyed were from corporate organizations, representing eight different industries. Healthcare and higher education institutions also participated, representing 7% each, out of all surveyed.

Nearly half of respondents were either director or manager level for their organization, and the rest identified as staff-level employees.

Participants reported using a variety of technology solutions to manage emergency planning, response, and recovery, with around 36% using Juvare’s WebEOC and/or other Juvare solutions. Others used a variety of solutions including ESRI and Juvare partners Rave and OnSolve.

Questions and Insights

The first question asked respondents which aspects of their emergency management technology solutions could be improved.

  • “Communication” was the top response with 22%
  • “Business Continuity/COOP” and “Mapping/GIS” both received 18%.
  • “Incident Action Plan-Building” got 17% or responses
  • Other selections that received high numbers were “Damage Assessments”, “Resource Management”, “Automating Checklists”, “Dashboards/Data”, “Visualization”, and “Event Logging”

Responding to the question of what respondents would add to enhance their emergency management technology capabilities, the top responses were:

Another question asked, “what are your jurisdiction’s top concerns when it comes to emergency management hazards? Roughly a third listed “Floods”, followed by “Hurricanes” and “Cyber Attack”.

So, what is the one emergency that keeps emergency managers up at night?

This was an open question that the respondent could fill in the blank. Looking at the variety of answers, there is a wide variety of emergency situations on their minds. There were 31 distinct answers to this question. However, cyberattacks and tornadoes tied for the highest number of responses.

Here are the top 7 incidents that keep Emergency Managers up at night:

  • Cyberattack
  • Tornado
  • Earthquake
  • Flooding
  • Bombing
  • Fire
  • Terrorist attack

One person perhaps offered the most honest answer of all about what keeps that particular emergency manager up at night. The response? Everything

What type of incident keeps you up at night? Being prepared for the unexpected is the key to better, more effective response to an emergency. By offering you the best solutions for emergency planning, response, and recovery we hope to also help you sleep better, knowing that you’re better prepared – for everything.

Find out how Juvare helps you Prepare, Connect, Respond to emergencies and critical incidents. 

Written by

David Layman

More to Explore