with Lee Rosenberg (CEM)
Todd DeVoe: Hey, I got a Lee Rosenberg here with me today for a little while and I’m excited to have him on the show. Lee, welcome to EM Weekly.
Lee Rosenberg: Well thanks for having me here and I’m glad to participate.
Todd DeVoe: So Lee,
Todd DeVoe: So Lee, what were some of the challenges that you had going through that whole
Lee Rosenberg: You know, I think it sort of was an interesting flow of one thing leading to another. I had a fairly easy time transitioning from the military and becoming a civilian. And of course, I went to work for FEMA a government agency, federal government agency, which is somewhat organized along the way. Any response organization is operations plans, et cetera. So that was easy. The cultural changes were something interesting to face. A bigger challenge was going from that federal government culture into the civilian workforce, especially as a manager. The fact that civilians don’t respond in the same way that sailors and Marines do a, I’m not going to say which one’s better or worse, but it’s a very different leadership style and you need to work more on being collegial and collaborative. And you can’t just say we’re getting underway. Zero, 630, everybody is going to be on board at zero, 500.
Lee Rosenberg: It’s a consulting firm. We do emergency management and homeland security consulting primarily in the West Coast, Oregon, California, Arizona. And it’s
Todd DeVoe: So let’s talk a little bit about maritime security and, and how, how that works.So again, back to the challenges because I think we learn from what
Lee Rosenberg: Well, I think a lot of the changes with what’s called MTSA at the MaritimeTransportation Safety Act that now required all of the ships and all of the ports and all the facility operators to have essentially a security plan that meant certain federal standards and that I faced primarily always working at the coast guard. It goes, at the time I was there, they were implementing MTSA. What I see, in the ports is what you see in a lot of cities and counties because ports work as revenue-generating operations for typically cities or an authority, they gotta make money so they’re lane when it comes to staff and same thing with the ferry systems. I work with very lean and they don’t often have the resources to dedicate for a full-time staff that does
Todd DeVoe: So as we have these larger storms coming in, especially in the southeast area is like we just had with Florence and last year with Harvey and Maria and Lowe’s.Do you work with them to talk about what their plan should be for, for
Lee Rosenberg: You know, there is prepared as they can be. All of the ports have a continuity of operation and business continuity plan, you know, not just the storms where I worked primarily in California, it’s earthquakes.
Todd DeVoe: So when it comes to the port, what is your biggest concern, I suppose, for lack of better term?
Lee Rosenberg: Well, the biggest concern is that there are, especially container ports, which are the majority of what I work with. Two things, one that there’s a large enough business disruption that cargo
Todd DeVoe: What do you see that where we can transition some of the lessons that you learned from working with the port. So you said that you work with cities and counties as well. Some of the lessons that you learned on the maritime side. How do you transition that into the dry side?
Lee Rosenberg: You said about resiliency. One of the biggest concerns we have on an earthquake and the bay area, southern California, other refineries, they have maritime terminals. It’s all built on liquefiable land, or at least a lot of it is. And they need
Todd DeVoe: So you use the word resilience this minute ago and that seems to be the new buzzword in emergency management. We have the 100 resilient cities to Rockefeller Foundation and things like that. So what does resiliency and resiliency mean to you? In emergency management?
Lee Rosenberg: It means that you have plans and processes and procedures and equipment in place. So when the big one hits, you at least have
Todd DeVoe: Yeah, I was going to say that. I mean, New Orleans is still like 100,000 people, short of their population from Katrina occurred. Basically, they moved away to Houston, picked up a lot of people in Dallas. Even in California, you got a bunch and they just haven’t gone back. And the ninth ward is still, it goes down to some extent, you know, so I see that as you’re right. That’s the opposite of what resilience really is. And, and in a
Lee Rosenberg: I think it starts by the emergency managers. That consultant is not so much. Weare hopefully behind the scenes providing support the emergency managers andmost of them do a great job. Need to get out in their communities. They have tohave the time, they have to have the resources, but if you have two people inyour county, emergency management staff, you’re pretty stretched, just makingends meet, get out in the communities, engage with business, set up a businessutility operation center. If your county is large enough to have a big utilityoperators in business so that when you open your EOC, they’re there and theyare beginning to do the recovery at the beginning of the disaster because youcan’t do it for them, so the emergency managers and we all pretty much knowthis need to build coalitions. We need to conduct outreach and we need tostress to our bosses over and over again the importance of what we do becauseif we fail, they fail.
Todd DeVoe: What does it take to build that resilient community?
Lee Rosenberg: It takes everybody in it. It takes leadership. It takes champions. It takes finding the right people in the community outside of government that’ll pick up the torch and run with it and it just takes hard work. You can’t do it on a 40hour a week, a basis.
Todd DeVoe: Yeah. I wish we could do in a 40 hour week. You mentioned and that was going to be my next question, so good segue. Well,
Lee Rosenberg: Well, you know, I had a bunch of opportunities for leadership from a very early start, but I learned a lot. I had command of a destroyer in the mid-nineties and I did pretty well with that destroyer. We went to the Persian Gulf and back. We brought everybody home safely. We did all of our missions. Then I had command of a much larger unit at Camp Pendleton and what I learned probably from one command to another is trust your staff, make sure you pick the right ones to trust the most and let them do their jobs without providing too much rudder order. And that seemed to be a good way of running things. A, you still have to know what’s going on. If you don’t understand your systems and you don’t know where your craft
Todd DeVoe: Yeah, I think that’s an important part too. I know that that’s one of the things that I love doing with our program is getting them trained up, getting those guys into the leadership positions, picking the right people and saying, Hey, this is the commander’s intent, right? Here’s the commander’s intent. This is what we want to do, and it’s amazing the work that they’ll do for you when they know that you’re supporting them one and two, that you’re not micromanaging every single movement that happens. You know, and I think that’s a really important portion of leadership in general and I think we as emergency managers can use our volunteer staff in the same way that we use paid staff because most of us small city people, we don’t have six, eight, 10 staff members. We have us and then we have volunteers and I think that we need to be able to trust them as well. What do you think of the volunteer programs now? I know you’re part of Team Rubicon as well. What kind of work can volunteers do in a disaster?
Lee Rosenberg: You know, there’s a lot of things they can do. Everything from helping to staff shelters
Todd DeVoe: Talk about the community, those guys that are out there doing that work. It’s amazing that how thankful the community really is for, for the work that the volunteers are doing, whether it be Team Rubicon or the CERT program or the American Red Cross. You know, I think that the volunteers that are evolved as organizations get a lot out of that because of the gratitude that the community members give them. And I think that’s one of the things that we had to remember as emergency managers kind of going back on us as far as the leadership goes, is that we need to embrace the volunteer programs and not fight against them. And I’ve seen a lot of districts that have fought against the volunteer programs and I was reading an article the other day regarding Florence, but one of the cities, I don’t remember which one was kicking out volunteer groups, I think it was a command and control issue that they had down there or also trust of what the capabilities were. But they’re kicking volunteer groups out saying if you’re not affiliated specifically with the city, you’re gone. Um, and I found that kind of interesting that that was the t ake they took on their, uh, what do you think of that?
Lee Rosenberg: You know, it’s interesting. Uh, I did the first team Rubicon up in California and wasn’t much. We tore down a double wide in Plumas County and I watch the counties in California and the state except for Team Rubicon, we did another op during the lake county fires. And then when we were done helping the Red Cross do damage assessments, we went to the EOC and we said we’d like to help. And they said, well, can you sort clothes when you got a bunch of strapping young, former marines and soldiers? Probably not the right assignment, but I think embracing those volunteers and its command control issue, you’re right, you have a larger span of control. You don’t know if they’re vetted. Of
Todd DeVoe: It really is. I’ll tell you from, from all my time of doing response and recoveryand in this I got to the Blue Cut Fire and go in and take a look at people andsaying, okay, yeah, we’re going to be able to take care of this. And they’relike, well we don’t have insurance, or like don’t worry about it. We got it,we’re going to, we’re going to be able to might not be able to build your houseright now, but we’re going to be able to clean this entire place up so you havea clean slate to go and to rebuild. And there’s just the amazing emotionaloutpouring that these people I give to you. You give them that, that littleglimmer of hope after they lost everything. I think that’s a very importantpick a couple of things come last. We’re getting here close to the end here. Soif somebody wanted to get in touch with you, how would they find you?
Lee Rosenberg: I’ve got a website for my company and its www.navigatingpreparedness.com and there’s all sorts of contact information there or they can call me. My number is(925)381-0583. And so email phone call, text. Pretty good with any of that.I’ve got a facebook page for the company. I don’t use it much.
Todd DeVoe: And for those of you that are driving and you don’t have your pencil
Lee Rosenberg: Well, I’ll just say leadership. There’s an old, old, very skinny book called Tao and the art of mentoring and it probably has more information on leadership and then you can find in any number of the latest leadership books that are trending and there’s a new one every year or two become wildly popular and somebody makes a lot of money off of them. Does the Sunday morning talk shows and I would recommend that.
Todd DeVoe: So the Tao of leadership? Yeah. Anything you start talking about the Tao ofanything. So it’s kind of interesting, right? I even read the whole Tao of Poohseries because it’s just, you know, they were able to do it. It’s awesome. Oh, awesome. So thank you so much for being here with us. They spent some time withthe listeners here at and weekly. Is there anything that you’d like to say tothe emergency manager before we let you go?
Lee Rosenberg: You know, there isn’t much. You’ve asked a lot of questions. I think emergency management is a growing and increasingly complex field and we’d really like to get some young, bright talent
Todd DeVoe: This is true. This is true. And I love the scene. Um, I teach us Most of you guys have listened to me now and it’s nice to see the young generation come up and, uh, and really grabbed the, uh, the mantle of emergency management and hold onto it and moving it forward because I think there are some really cool innovative ideas that these young people have that are coming in from straight out of college into emergency management. I think it’s a really great path and career path. Well, thank you again for being here as it’s fun.
Lee Rosenberg: Thanks Todd. Good talking with you.
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