Over the last several years there have been volumes of articles written on the value of public-private partnerships in Emergency Management. So why is it still like pulling teeth? Yes, we have great private sector partners in EM – the likes of WalMart, UPS, Grainger, and others. The value of having these partnerships has certainly been demonstrated through the years, in both local disasters and national-level disasters. Even in preparedness, these partnerships help carry our message to the masses. FEMA promotes a program called PS-Prep, designed to engage private sector preparedness while encouraging their involvement locally in emergency management efforts.
Government simply can’t do it without the private sector. It’s not because the public sector is lacking, it’s because of the position and resources available to the private sector. They have more resources and greater flexibility. Why wouldn’t they want to help? Their customers and employees live in the area. It’s a solid decision to invest in the community (or communities) in which your company is located. It doesn’t always involve a financial commitment – it encourages preparedness for the business itself; it provides an opportunity to engage employees in community efforts (all with the company name being recognized – it’s free marketing!); and perhaps an opportunity to provide products – discounted or free – to relief efforts in the aftermath of a disaster. Commodities such as building materials, water, and food are in great need in the aftermath of a disaster. Even trucks and people. Yes, these things all cost money, but there is a lot of free press and good will that goes along with it.
There are plenty of businesses that contribute after a disaster occurs – certainly they want to help. They can all have more impact, however, by joining up with local emergency preparedness efforts before a disaster ever occurs. Joining a community organization, such as a VOAD, or entering into memorandums of understanding with local emergency management agencies prior to a disaster makes a huge impact. The partnerships made with other businesses, government agencies, and community organizations will also be to their benefit.
Businesses large and small – consider both the preparedness of your company and your community. There are opportunities to be had with both!