In reading Dan Fowler’s article, “Emergency Management Chief Decries ‘Culture of Entitlement’” in CQ this morning I was struck by the frank talk and courage of the comments made by National Emergency Management Association President Nancy Dragani.  While speaking at a Heritage Foundation Forum, Dragani noted the shift of our culture from one of personal responsibility to one of expectation and entitlement in terms of disaster and emergency response.

Instead of taking the individual initiative to prepare and respond to an emergency, it was her view that people are expecting someone to take care of those steps for them.  According to the article, she noted the pendulum shift towards this attitude of citizen entitlement following the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

While I was not at the Heritage event (I wish I had been), I find her remarks, as reported, as very commendable and even courageous.  She spoke not just from experience (she leads the State of Ohio’s Emergency Management Agency), but from a sense of reality.  Dragani’s voice is one more that echoes the reality check about what the public expectations from FEMA and emergency management at all levels should be.

Citizens have a distinct responsibility to take steps to safeguard their families, businesses, communities and themselves.  Outsourcing your personal responsibility is not responsible at all and contributes nothing to the resilient fiber of our country or its communities.  In taking the steps towards personal readiness, there are still those among us who need an extra hand and assistance.  As such, there is a role for government and communities at all levels to provide that hand when it is needed.  

We have all seen the results of when personal, community and government preparedness fail and it’s not a lesson any of us want to see repeated.

Kudos to Nancy for stating the obvious and having the courage to say it.  

That’s not often the case when dealing with these issues for fear of being pilloried by the media, the blogosphere and Congress for stating the truth.  

She did it and it was well said too.

Rich Cooper blogs primarily on emergency preparedness and response, management issues related to the Department of Homeland Security, and the private sector’s role in homeland security. Read More