Prep Out Loud with Steven Eberlein

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Prep Out Loud with Steven Eberlein

So I’m excited to have Steven Eberlein with us today and I got to see Steven a Ted Talk and that’s how I found them and I reached out and I said I need to have you on the show to talk about preparing out loud and that was the name of his Ted talk and Steven has a really great way of sharing how we as emergency managers can take a look at what community preparedness really means. So, Steven, welcome to EM Weekly.

Steven:  Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.

Todd:     So, Steven, tell, tell me just a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in the emergency management preparedness space.

Steven:  It’s a long story. I never planned whatsoever to be in this space. I am not a “Type A” personality. I don’t naturally prepare, I’m not a checklist kind of person. I came here by accident and the quickest way to explain it is I followed my wife out to Sri Lanka in 2003. My wife was an aid worker during the cease-fire after a long civil war and I went out to her as a Spanish teacher of all things. Don’t try to make sense of that because it really makes no sense whatsoever.

Steven:  Just about the time that we had completed our second year and had decided that we were going to move to the next country. The tsunami hits, my wife, got a phone call and said, did you hear what just happened? And to hear that there was a tsunami that hits Sri Lanka was shocking. The most shocking thing about it was that I didn’t actually know that a tsunami was a real phenomenon. Truly didn’t happen so rarely up to that point, I thought it was mythical, I thought it was a Unicorn from whirlpool, tsunamis, all in the same buckets. I didn’t know that was a real phenomenon.

Steven:  I immediately left my teaching position to work side by side with my wife and in the first year of the response efforts. And then after a grueling, grueling year of response, we moved back to Oregon and we’re both native Klamath Falls, Oregon, and the really surprising thing about moving back to Oregon in 2005 was that the the awareness of our earthquake risk was just starting to enter wider consciousness. I grew up in Oregon and we never heard anything about this earthquake risk. In fact, I was, I was a sophomore in high school in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and my geography teacher said, and I quote them directly,

Steven:  “There, never has been and there never will. Earthquakes in Oregon”

Todd:     What”

Steven:  This was 1993, Oregon. Of course, naturally we very next day in Klamath Falls, Oregon. We had an earthquake, uh, which you know that that’s one way to be proven wrong.

Steven:  But the interesting thing, the interesting thing about moving back was we were amongst the few people in the Pacific Northwest who could say that we understood very well firsthand what a subduction zone earthquake-tsunami event looks like. And we moved back at the very moment that the Pacific Northwest is coming to grips with the fact that we’ve got something just like the Japanese earthquake-tsunami on the horizon. And the question is, how do you, how do you convince a population to prepare for an event that is scary, that they don’t understand very well, and that they’ve never experienced and worse than that their parents haven’t experienced it or their grandparents or their great-grandparents.

Steven:  The thing about the Pacific Northwest earthquake is we don’t have stories. In Japan they’ve got stories in Chile, they’ve got stories. Even if you haven’t experienced the subduction zone, earthquake, your neighbor has and you know what your grandma went through and that’s how we learn behaviors.

Steven:           We learn through stories. We learned behaviors through the visible actions of others and that’s what we don’t have in the Pacific Northwest. We don’t have any of that. So we’re in an incredibly rare historical situation that there’s incontrovertible evidence of what’s coming and we have no experience in the events that we have all accepted that’s coming. And so we’re in a cultural moment here that is almost unlike any other.

Steven:  I think the only other similar situation would have been New Orleans before Katrina. I grew up in new. I’m sorry, I went to, I went to college in New Orleans and it was before Katrina, but the common phrase at that time was “when do levees break?” When the levees break, you hear it all the time, because everyone had accepted that this was in the future. However, they hadn’t actually come to grips with the cultural behavioral changes that needed to take place so that everyone was on the same page, sharing the same lifesaving behaviors before that event.

Steven:  Here we are in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a similar situation.

Todd:     So one of the things that you talked about in your Ted Talk was the idea of cultural preparedness and what that means. And I know that we struggle here and I know there’s been different studies been done and it’s anywhere 10 percent and say 20 percent of people across the United States, they say that they’re prepared and I don’t know really what that means.

Todd:     What questions were being asked with that, you know, whether that means they have some dried food and a bottle of water in their car or do they really have a preparedness? That mindset. But how do we engage from your perspective, How do we engage the public as emergency managers and get that culture shift of preparedness?

Steven:  Two things come to mind. First of all, the word “Empathy” comes to mind. When you’re an emergency manager, when you’re already an expert in this space of worrying and preparing for these events, I think sometimes we become frustrated, with the public that they should be doing this. Why aren’t they doing that? And I think it starts with understanding that we naturally turn away from the things that make us uncomfortable and having a bit of empathy for that. And when we talk about possible events, I think you kind of need to start with the science behind it. The world’s not just how to get us. I always start, when I about any emergency what’s the scientific basis behind why we have to worry about it. So with the Cascadia subduction zone, I start with a good lesson. In Subduction, I don’t talk about death. I don’t talk about number of houses lost. I don’t talk about length of utility disruption.

Steven:  A lot of those scary side effects are kind of embedded and the science itself. When you come to learn, for example, that earth is from the Pacific Northwest for five minutes. The knock on effect of that is pretty obvious and it’s already embedded in the public’s mind because they read the newspapers, right? This is already a worry, so I start by helping people understand the nature of the risk and as far as the cultural behavior and the behavior shift, what I hope to get people to do is to not only prepare, but we’re trying to recruit advocates for preparedness.

Steven:  I think sometimes emergency managers and preparedness experts aren’t the best advocates. I think the best advocate in a workplace might be the secretary. It might be the HR manager. It’s the person that everyone likes and trusts most within the office. The person who kind of sets the culture of the office might be the best preparedness advocates.

Steven:  If you can convince those people, the people we like to listen to, to not only take life leaving action but to show other people the action they’re taking. I think we’re more likely to see the knock-on effect of an actual culture change.

Todd:     You talked about in your, in your Ted talk about the. How do you say it again? The impromptu or the unwilling camper. I really love the analogy. I love you and I talked last week a little bit and you were talking a bit about how you liked the idea of preparing the prepare to out loud where people if they were standing on the street corner, they might be more willing to talk about preparedness. Can you talk about both those concepts a little bit? Because I love. I love the idea that you become a camper even if you don’t like camping

Steven:  Sure, and, So I think the quote that I used in the Ted Talk was “We already know how to go campaign. We just don’t feel ready for camping to come to us. ”

Steven:  Here’s the reason that that line. So when you communicate with the public, you got to meet them where they’re at and camping is something that we associate with fun and it’s actually an activity where we’re taking a lot of control over ourselves and our environment. We’re proving to ourselves when we yes, I can go without electricity. I can go without shampoo and are running, shower, I can learn to cook on a Coleman Stove, etc. And we are actually, especially during the summer where we’re practicing preparedness and we just don’t even realize that. So it’s A way to show the audience that, listen, even if you don’t camp, I guarantee that you basically understand the concept of camping and you probably already know someone who camps a lot, which means prepared this culture is there.

Steven:  We have the just prepared in this culture, especially on the west coast with us. What we haven’t quite caught up with is the mindset that basically preparedness means being ready to spontaneously camp. Um, so as I say, if we’re ready to spontaneously camp at work, in our car, and at home with all the food, water, and supplies that you would have for camping years ready for an earthquake as you could possibly be. And also if you’re ready for an earthquake, you’re pretty ready for wildfires. You’re ready for ice storms. You’re ready for power outages. You’re ready for pretty much anything that mother nature can throw you because nothing is harder than being ready for an earthquake.

Steven:  And Todd and ask me that second question again. I already forgot it.

Todd:     Sure. The. The question was how did you come up with the concept of the Prepare Out Load?

Steven:  Oh, that’s a good question.

Steven:  So, it happened by accident. I was. I was in a meeting with various nonprofit agency. If we’re coming together to discuss how we can start approaching the public with a message that will resonate and quite spontaneously I noted that we in that room as messengers or not as influential as the person sitting right next to another and a cubicle, probably the most influential thing you could have, you could see is the person sitting next to you with an earthquake bag. That’s more influential someone sitting in front of you saying, don’t get ready for an earthquake. The visible example of others is the thing that I believe is completely missing and it’s also something that’s counter-cultural and that’s part of the difficulty.

Steven:  We, look at it this way. Look at it this way. Consider how much we smoked in the fifties, consider the fact that we didn’t wear seat belts in the seventies. Now I know that legislation played action on smoking cessation. But there was another factor that took place that we haven’t recognized. The thing is that you can’t quit smoking secretly. You can be a closet smoker, but you can’t really be a closet quitter, but when you see your aunt or uncle, brother or sister or father quit smoking, You know it! And most importantly if your still smoking that has an impact, that has an impact on you, It weighs on your mind. You where reinforcing each other smoking before that you just lost a smoking ally. Same with buckling up, No one secretly buckles that started buckling up the first time you saw your boss, your father, your sister buckles up it sends a message, If we were on the sidewalk flossing, it would probably influence more people to floss.

Steven:  Right now, we are secretly preparing, the fact that our preparedness is secret in a way, it’s not as influential as it could be. So what Prepare Out Lout is trying to do is exactly that. It’s time for this very cultural situation to teach people to do something which is not only to prepare but to prepare us publicly as possible, so just like buckling up, just like quitting smoking, Your preparedness can start to influence the people that only you have influence over, because most people are never going to hear from an emergency manager to go to a Red Cross preparedness presentation, right?

Steven:  Everyone’s got a neighbor, a family member, and getting those people that 10 percent maybe who have taken action to start showing what they’ve done. That’s going to have more influence then all Emergency managers and preparedness advocates can have together.

Todd:     Can you tell us a little bit about what the common sense gap is and how that’s important, and then I’d like you to go deeper into your experience in Sri Lanka and how that really impacted your, your journey into where you are today?

Steven:  So the common sense gap recognizes that preparedness happens within a culture that doesn’t happen in isolation it actually happens within a culture and takes time for a culture to catch up with the knowledge of its risk. So it was long after we realized cars were dangerous, that we started actually buckling up, It was long after we realized that smoking was dangerous, that smoking cessation became a major part of the movement and in the pacific northwest especially and also other places in the United States, the level of seismic risk, earthquake risk is relatively new information. And just because you have common knowledge and the population of the risk, it doesn’t mean they’re automatically going to adapt culturally immediately to that fact.

Steven:  And so that moment between knowledge being attained and culture changing is what I call the common sense gap. Because even though we know we should be preparing for this earthquake culturally, we haven’t made the full evolution yet, so we’re in that common sense gap where we know that we should be preparing for this earthquake, but we don’t actually expect each other to prepare yet because it just hasn’t become fully integrated into our culture. that’s the common sense gap.

Steven:  And a little bit more on my experience in Sri Lanka, so I was a geography teacher and a Spanish teacher in Sri Lanka and my wife was an aid worker. And doing reconstruction projects in rebel-held territory in Sri Lanka and the day of the tsunami was a really weird one. I learned about the tsunami that hit him in the bathroom of a mall. I was just coming out of the bathroom, a man stopped me on the way out and he said, “Sir, I want to let you know that there has been a massive earthquake and a tsunami is coming this way” and then he just left. It was like the most awkward bathroom conversation in history, right I leave the bathroom I find my wife. I said, listen, this dude just told me that there’s been an earthquake and a tsunami is coming. And I’ll never forget my wife’s response, just with distain on her face. She said this isn’t Japan, and that was an appropriate response, but we didn’t really have full understanding of what created a tsunami, and of course, that man in the bathroom was completely correct.

Steven:  That’s indeed. There had been a tsunami hits certain long class and subsequently, we would know that 35,000 people perished within essentially a span of 24 hours from that event. And then the kind of the stranger thing after one year of working together on that effort of responding to this subduction zone earthquake-tsunami event. We returned to Oregon. We’re in 2006. We were just really coming to grips with the fact that we have a subduction zone earthquake and tsunami in our future. Uncanny that native Oregonian and I just returned with my wife from the subduction zone, quaking tsunami to my home, which is just learning then we have a subduction zone, earthquake and tsunami coming, and then 2011 Tohoku earthquake occurred, which is essentially a mirror event of what we should expect in the Pacific northwest and then Katherine Sholtz writes, .”The Really big one”.

Steven:  It’s all about the Cascadia subduction zone, how big it’s going to be in, how unprepared we are and what I saw in Oregon is that people are starting to freak out and really start looking for information and as a red cross’r I found that I had an opportunity to tell my story from a regular guy’s point of view, from an Oregonians point of view, from someone who doesn’t naturally prepare. I don’t really have preparedness in my DNA. I’m not a checklist guy. I’m not someone who worries very much about things, but I am a native Oregonian who just happened to go through the events in our future, which gave me an opportunity to tell our story, my wife and my story through Prepare Out Loud, which is the presentation I’ve been giving for the last two and a half years and Prepare Out Loud has a lot of the things that you’re going to see in any prepared this presentation.

Steven:  Of course we talk about food. Of course, we talk about water. Of course, we show you how to secure your water heater and things like that, but the important element is that I make it as personal as possible. The audience needs to see a regular guy, not a preparedness expert. A regular guy who’s worried about his three little kids and how he’s going to go retrieve them from schools. That’s an important exercise and empathizing with the audience because I don’t think people necessarily respond to preparedness experts. I think they respond to human beings. So I do my very, very best to humanize the preparedness, experience autobiographically for the examples of my own family and ultimately what I hope to do with Prepare Out Loud is to not only create more prepared people but to create preparedness advocates because that’s actually where the culture comes in.

Steven:  Take Japan, take Chili the police, they learn preparedness. It’s not from their local red cross. It’s not from emergency management. They learn their preparedness from grandma. They learned from mom and dad. They learned from the neighbors, from their bosses. They learn it from people that they know trust and who have experienced major events. That’s what we’re lacking in the pacific northwest.

Steven:  The best that we can do is try to create a culture from scratch of regular people like me, like you, that are doing their best to get prepared and showing that preparedness to other people and learning to talk about preparedness for an event they haven’t experienced with other people. Because that is actually how preparedness culture spread. Not through any agency on high telling us what to do. It’s from conversations between people who trust each other and the examples that we show each other, so that’s what it’s all about. Creating preparedness, advocacy.

Todd:     I Was thinking about this that were two or three generations removed from a culture of preparedness. If you think about the great depression generation, so it would be like my. My dad’s parents are who were adults during the great depression. My dad was a kid and I remember my grandfather, he was always had stuff is always ready to go. He never was without canned foods and where they can ask themselves and things like that and they were pretty self-sustainable during this time and we have lost that because my, my dad didn’t teach me that and I don’t know how to do that. You know what I mean? So I can’t teach my kids.

Steven:  There is actually an evolution that takes place there. Of course, the depression era generation, they adopt it. They followed common sense because common sense what’s demanded to survive and they completely changed their life and culture because of it and their children probably followed to a degree some of the examples that they saw. But then one more generation after that, not only are we not emulate, you know, our grandparents example, we make fun of it and part of the reason we make fun of it is because it has, Those examples have become so far removed from our culture and also I think we come to resent it a little bit because we don’t like someone who is giving us the idea that we’re not going to be able to continue living exactly as we are now.

Steven:  It’s a comfort and the security of being able to get an have the things that we need. We don’t like that reminder and so what did we do? We make fun of it. We make fun of the stinginess. We make fun of the fact that no, they won’t throw away the last quarter can of beans because they can eat it next Wednesday. We mock it because it makes us uncomfortable. We don’t like to even imagine the possibility and the things we don’t feel comfortable with. What do we do? Yeah, we mock them. That’s the simple way to deal with discomfort and that’s also why we make fun of people who prepare. People who prepare, especially people who prepare publicly are kind of a different., There are different type and it makes us uncomfortable in part because we know we should probably prepare as well, but what’s easier to do is to mock a prepper or to laugh at your crazy uncle and all the solar radios in the water he has in his basement. It’s easier to mock than to emulate, especially the actions that make it feel a bit uncomfortable.

Todd:     That is very true.

Todd:     Wow. Well thank you very much for that insight. I tell you, it really makes me start thinking this is what I love about doing these shows as a professional. I love to talk to people and start really kind of, you know, thinking outside of what our normal processes. I hope that those of you that are out there listening have gotten some of the same questions in their head of how we can engage our jurisdiction and the residents and the people who were in charge of I suppose and how we can help them be ready for the next disaster because they’re coming, you know, obviously we’ve had a pretty rough year here this year with some disasters and even if it’s not the big earthquake we’ve had the hurricanes, we’ve had the fires and whatnot to the storm.

Todd:     So one of the things that I know that we’re, that we as the emergency management community is working on, um, and it started with the Rockefeller Foundation with the 1000 resilient cities and working with resiliency. And I think the cool part about looking at that program is it’s not about the top down emergency manager saying what to do. It is really building a community coalition around preparedness and resiliency. Using that term is really important because it’s not preparing necessarily for the big disaster. It’s come into the community.

Todd:     What do you think of using that terminology? Does that, does that strengthen the position of the community when I say that does it strengthen the position of the elected officials in governance bodies, with people and, and making it more a holistic, collaborative approach. Do you think using those terminologies?

Steven:  I like the terminology, the terminology of coalition terminology of resilient cities. I like the idea of mayors and city planners reaching out to each other and doing a combined effort. I think that those are all those things are positive.

Steven:  But let me ask this of that resilient city initiative, how many mayors have actually shown to their audience, their, uh, their constituents, the preparedness measures that they have personally taken at home and how many emergency managers have been that as well? I think that part of what we missed in the messaging and again, cities initiative, it’s all good, but one thing I think that we sometimes miss personal preparedness is. So I think one more layer to any preparedness messaging is that personal touch because What we’re asking you to do is change your personal behavior in your own home and how you work with your children.

Steven:  This is the most personal thing you can ask of someone, so if you want to have an impact with any of these initiatives, I think we just need to go one more layer down and we need to show personal examples. We need to show mayors leading the way with their own example. Here’s the initiative and here is my personal participation in this initiative. We’re in the back of my car, here’s my water, here’s my life-straw, and look here we’re in my home. This is how much food I have and this is where I keep it and look, I’ve actually secured my cabinet so it doesn’t fall over on my three year old. People really need that visual example because, without the visual personal example, it does come off as top and the top-down approach I think can be really an without us intending it to be. We have the best of intentions when were messengers, but the personal touch, I think what’s meaningful because anytime you learn something personal about someone, it’s, there sharing something with you and that’s meaningful. I think we’re more likely to listen if we can take any of these initiatives and work at all the way down to the personal touch of leaders showing what they are personally doing at the household level or the workplace level to walk the walk of what they’re asking everybody to do.

Todd:     Yeah, I think that’s really important. One of the things that was really of cool was with one of the colleges that was participating in the great shakeout and they did a photo contest at this college. It’s a UCI, University of California Irvine, and the president of the college took a picture of himself at the time underneath the desk for the great shakeout showing that he was participating in that great shakeout and I think that really, something like that at that level really tells all the staff and faculty members and the students that, hey, I’m participating in this too. You should participate. I really liked that. That leading from the front. I think that’s important.

Steven:  Well, I’ll tell you what, during every presentation that I do with the exception of the Ted Talk, The presentations I do called Prepare Out Loud. We do a drop cover, hold on, drill every single presentation and there are a few reasons why that’s necessary. For one, the reason that we already know as preparedness advocates and EM’s, that drop cover, hold on. It’s not intellectual. It’s not something for your frontal lobe, for the intellectual part of your brain, We’re trying to reach into the more instinctual part of your brain and the instinctual part of your brains respond to physical, repetitive practice. That’s one reason to do lots of drop cover hold drills, but there’s a second. There’s a second thing, but it’s even more important than that is that when you are in an earthquake, you’re likely to not be alone and everyone. I feel like when you’re in an earthquake and everyone starts to say, hey, is this really happening? They look at each other and they’re starting to gage what their response should be based on other people’s reaction.

Steven:  So I’d like to do drop cover, hold girls, and we do full volume drop cover hold grills in part to make people uncomfortable because that’s part of an emergency. Is the uncertainty really dorky when you’re the first person to drop to the ground there, but it might be looking at you like you’re an idiot to get through that and the best way to do that is to get 300 people in a room and surprise them with a drop cover, hold, grill, and watch what happens. I’m the first person that dropped to the ground unannounced every time and I watch people reluctantly follow suit because what happens is I set up a permission structure that I’m giving you permission. I’m the, I’m the dang presenter in front of 300 of you and here I am on the ground and almost out of politeness, People start getting under and then more start happening and it’s a chain reaction because just like that, an expectation. Was set.

Steven:  Did you drop cover hold, a social reaction that need to be habituated within a workplace, we need to give each other permission? We need to give each other permission to say, yes, I’m in my slacks or skirt. I’m the VP of Finance and I’m doing the visual example is absolutely critical because the visual example is setting an expectation for all of us to follow. So don’t just wait for the great shakeout drill. Don’t, don’t wait for that. I think it should be done frequently, not only to keep earthquakes top of mind, but to reinforce the social expectation that this is the normal way to react and that this is the expected way to react and we don’t care how dorky and uncomfortable you feel and we don’t care that you’re the VP or CEP because at the end of the day we’re all humans and things fall down on humans and hurt us we all need to get out of this safer. So don’t overlook the social aspects. That’s why you do drop cover, hold drills, It’s to get through the social discomfort of dropping covering and holding.

Todd:     Tell me a little bit more about your “Prepare Out Loud” presentation and what that looks like?

Steven:  Yeah, sure. So I’ve been doing it for about two and a half years and I’ve given 100 presentations, in about 25 cities, reaching above 15,000 people by now. And here’s what I go through. So first I tell the story of myself just a regular slide by the seed two pants, Oregonian, He really doesn’t worry about who suddenly went through boxing day tsunami scenario. I go from there to start discussing what our cultural response is in Oregon. I want people to understand this isn’t just about preparedness, we have to recognize how our culture is telling us not to prepare. And I about this before if you go into a mixed room and bring up the earthquake and someone says, that’s where my crazy uncle or it’s got be 100 years from now, or I’m just gonna. I’m just gonna load up the family. I’m go up to Idaho, in a way. your culture saying preparedness is not for normal people. Preparedness is not for you and It’s not for me. And that’s part of what we’re trying to address with that.

Steven:  We are trying to create, teach people to start a new kind of conversation, which is why I moved deep into the history and science as a subduction zone. I think it’s really easy to dismiss the earthquake risks if you don’t understand the science behind it. I think we dismiss scary things that we don’t understand, so I try to really make people understand in visual beautiful videos and pictures, the Cascadia subduction zone is a risk, how often these eight, nine point earthquakes happen when the last one was so that they can make a common sense conclusion that we don’t know when the next one is, but this is going to be a big deal and the evidence points to my generation or at least the next. From there, we move into a human reaction to earthquakes. We started talking about what happens in the brain during an emergency and we started talking about how your amygdala takes over and told you to do things that are going to earthquake is going to tell you probably to run really fast or it’s going to tell you to follow the direction of the most authoritative person in the room regardless of what that person’s doing or you’re going to get completely overwhelmed and do nothing.

Steven:  Those are the three pages I’ve seen most often and the mini videos that I’ve watched and from there we actually do with the reason that we’re trying to train her amygdala and we’re trying to, as a group, show each other that is okay and expected to drop cover hold. From there, we go into nonstructural mitigation in securing cabinets, pianos, and bookshelves.

Steven:  We talk about, we talked about the things that you should keep next to your bed. We move on into tsunami preparedness, um, and how to go the beach and not be the ocean, but be ready to evacuate very quickly, if the signs of a tsunami or on the way. And I should mention as we go through all these preparedness measures, it’s all in the first person. You’re looking at pictures of my living room. I’m showing you pictures of my kids. I’m showing you pictures of my actual kit will supply and the place that we put it. Everything is on the first person. So as I present, it’s not you need to do this. This is what my wife and I did so that we could be prepared and be ready to take care of my nine, seven and five year old in the event of an earthquake.

Steven:  After going through nonstructural mitigation on tsunamis. Then I start getting into the dark stuff, the dark stuff, being, What is going to be the impact of an earthquake on the pacific northwest? What is going to happen to our electrical grid our gas lines to sewage, to water throughout the pacific northwest, and the reason we go into that is because we need to give a rationale behind why you need to put together a kit.

Steven:  This is the way I feel like we’d never really explained to the public what is the kit.

Steven:  It’s kind of like a band-aid. Right now and actually every single day up to now you’ve had running water flushing toilets, so we take all these things for granted so you have to imagine all of these things being taken away and your kit is basically how you put a band-aid on all the services and utilities that you’ve lost. Why do you have a flashlight, because you don’t have a light anymore and every single item in the kit can be explained as a replacement for the utility or service that you’ve lost. This really helps light bulb moments that the rationale behind each item helps, Empathy is important. Telling someone that you need to get to bucket, It’s not as effective as in Christchurch, New Zealand. After that, they didn’t have flushing toilets in the southern part of the city for over a year.

Todd:     Wow.

Steven:  This is why you’re going to get some earthquake toilets, and all you need to do is troll the back alley of a Japanese restaurant and get 2 five gallon containers from discarded soy sauce and build yourself some earthquake toilets.

Steven:  That’s a very different way to approach any measure. Show how you have done it personally, make it accessible, make it human, and then the final thing we do after going through all the contents that I would recommend for a kit, you’re talking about family reunification, and this is the toughest part. As I put it. This is where preparedness stops. I think it’s pretty easy and emotion free to secure your water heater. That doesn’t. You don’t shed a lot of tears as you fill up water containers to be ready for an earthquake, but the question of how you’re going to reunite with your family when the bridges are down and the phones are out and you’re scared. This is A conversation that makes people cry and I’m seeing that and the first person.

Steven:  My wife and I did a lot of things before we decided to have the family reunification plan because it’s so painful to imagine and you have to imagine it fully to actually prepare and this. By the way, Todd, this is why preparedness stops. People. A lot of people aren’t willing to actually go through the full imaginative exercise of realizing what it’s going to be like and what you really care about and how much is at risk.

Steven:  When you have the family plan conversation, you have to go fully into that exercise and it was emotionally gutting, but it’s the necessary conversation and we always end up there because it gives us a runway to the next conversation. You need to have.

Steven:  You need. Once you are ready to have that conversation with your spouse or your loved ones about how you are going to try to regain it after major events, then maybe you’ve left with the courage to have a wider conversation with your workplace about what they need to do to keep everybody safe with your kid’s school or up the measures that they’ve taken to be ready for a major event. It arms you to have a wider community conversation about preparedness in the first person.

Todd:     Stephen, if someone wants to get ahold of you, how would they find you?

Steven:  Oh, I’m easy to find. Do you want me to give my contact information? You know what the best way to find me? Go to LinkedIn. I have a pretty robust LinkedIn profile and my phone number and email are, within the contact information, so I don’t hide my contact information from anybody and I respond to everybody

Speaker 1:           And if you guys free now, I’m also in the show links or the links in the show notes. We’ll put those links in there as well. So, uh, just come, can come check out the EM Weekly page and you can find the stuff there or wherever you’re listening to this podcast today. It’ll be in the show notes to the bottom of the show. So Steven’s contact information will be down there.

Todd:     Alright Steven? Toughest question of the day.

Todd:     What book or books do you give to somebody who is interested or that you want to get interested into emergency management or preparedness?

Steven:  The book I would recommend is Amanda Ripley’s, “The Unsinkable” who survives disasters and why.

Steven:  And the reason I liked this book when I read it five years ago, just before I started presenting is she made me understand two things. For one, the act of empathizing with your audience when you’re communicating. So for example, she talked about the things that stewardesses, flight attendants say when you’re on an airplane, You need to stow your luggage above your head, right? And that people sometimes don’t do it. And that we can help people understand. It’s the simple act of putting it above. your head is actually necessary because people trip on these things and can hurt themselves during an actual evacuation. So helping people understand why you need to take these simple actions, um, is something that Amanda Ripley does really, really well, and she also explained very well the necessity of drilling. Talks a lot about JP Morgan during nine slash 11, which was of course just yesterday and how the emergency manager of JP Morgan was absolutely insistent on doing all the way down the stairs until you get down to the streets because emergency, when you’re scared, your reluctance to go down a stairwell that you’ve never gone down before can actually keep you from taking the right action.

Todd:     That is a good book. Awesome book. I read it myself and yeah, I do. I actually use that a lot when I teach community preparedness classes myself.

Todd:     Alright sir. Well before I let you go, is there anything else that you’d like to say to the emergency manager out there?

Steven:  Is there anything else I’d like to say?

Steven:  I would just like to say thank you. I appreciate the work that you do so much, especially because I know it’s so hard to try to convince people to do what was best for them, but you’re doing your best to look out for a lot of us, so I just want to express gratitude, so thank you for many of you out there,

Todd:     Steven. Thank you so much. Taking time to spend it here with him weekly and especially, uh, in light of the big storms that are hitting the coast of North Carolina this weekend and today nine 12, 2018. And so the storms are hitting North Carolina, South Carolina. It looks like Florida as well coming up this weekend. So for those of those that were out there that were impacted we’re all here for You.

Todd:     Steven, again, like I said, thank you so much for being here on the show.

Steven:  Thank you so much. Thank you so much. And I want to give a shout out to the many, many American Red Cross volunteers from my home here in Oregon from throughout the, throughout the US who have positioned themselves to be ready for that hurricane strike. So thank you to our volunteers for doing that.

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EP 80 What Happens When You Become a Preparedness Community Activist





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