Selecting and responding to questions


  • Make sure to indicate which questions you selected by using the same, corresponding numbers with your responses (e.g., #2, 4, 6, 7, 9) so that I can easily match up your responses with the proper questions. Please don’t repeat or restate the questions.
  • Your responses should be clear, complete, succinct and substantive, addressing all of the main themes, elements or sub-questions in each overall question selected.
  • Your own critical thinking and analysis should be supported by evidence of research in appropriate sources such as assigned or supplementary sources used in this course, or from other scholarly/authoritative sources found in your own research, with source attribution and in-text citations in your responses in proper APA format for all conclusions, statements of fact, quotations, ideas or other supporting content.
  • Please do not cite my overview presentations, or any comments from others in discussion forums, although you may repeat or expand on some of your own comments from the discussion forums with no need for citations.
  •  This is not a research paper, so please don’t overdo it in terms of direct quotes, reproduced lists or tables, or citations. At the same time, while I want to see what you think about these topics, I’m not looking merely for opinions; rather, well-reasoned arguments or assertions supported by evidence with at least a few citations from authoritative sources. The challenge is to maintain a high proportion of original work, and limit the use of material quoted or paraphrased from the sources you cited.
  • UMUC requires the use of an accepted manual of style for citations, as indicated in the Syllabus. APA is preferred.
  • Please include a single overall list of References or Works Cited with full citations at the end of the exam rather than piecemeal after each response.
  • I would expect at least one in-text citation corresponding with each full citation in the list of References or Works Cited, and each in-text citation should match up clearly with a full citation in the list of References or Works Cited.
  • Make sure to follow a single, correct, consistent citation style for both in-text citations in your responses and full citations in the list of References or Works Cited; don’t “mix-and-match” APA with other styles in the same exam.
  • Proofread and edit your replies for organization, coherence, sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  • Your responses should be in Times New Roman, size 11 or 12 font, and may be either single or double-spaced.
  • Please include pagination (i.e., insert sequential page numbers).
  • Your completed exam should total approximately 5-10 pages (a minimum of one page or 250-300 words per response—a little more is better than a little less), excluding the cover sheet and list of References or Works Cited.

Select and respond to five of the following ten questions, one from each session:

Session/Week 7: Response (Select and respond to one question for Session 7)

1.) Should the president have flexibility or discretion for making emergency or major disaster declarations using exceptional procedures or criteria in extraordinary circumstances, or should the president be restricted to following standard procedures and criteria provided in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistant Act in order to ensure fairness and consistency regarding federal disaster aid? Should the federal government adopt a more “forward leaning” approach to declaring emergencies or disasters with FEMA intervening in potentially catastrophic incidents more quickly than the traditional approach, perhaps even mobilizing before formal requests for assistance from local and state governments?

2.) Describe the ideal or theoretical relationship and interaction between the EOC and Incident Command or Unified Incident Command in a major disaster, and their respective roles and responsibilities. Then, find an example of an actual disaster and assess or evaluate the interaction between those entities in practice during that event. Was that interaction effective and successful? If not, what should have been done differently?

Session/Week 8: Emergency Support Functions and Hazard-Specific Incidents (Select and respond to one question for Session 8)

3.) Find an example of an emergency or major disaster of any type (i.e., weather-related or natural disasters such as hurricanes, ice storms, floods, wildfires, earthquakes or tornadoes; biological incidents or infectious diseases; transportation accidents; radiological or chemical incidents; terrorist attacks; technological or cyber incidents; etc.) in the United States in the past 20 years other than the 9/11 attacks or Hurricane Katrina that involved the activation of one or more ESFs. Describe the assistance that was requested and received, and evaluate its effectiveness or success. What, if anything, should have been done differently to improve that ESF activation?

4.)  Looking at the local, state and federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, what were the major ethical issues, obligations, and challenges involved? Which type of ethical reasoning (utilitarian, normative, or casuistry) seemed to predominate at each level of government? What is your evaluation of how ethical obligations were met, or not?

Session/Week 9: Communications (Select and respond to one question for Session 9)

5.) What is your assessment of the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) rolled out in 2011? What are its pros and cons as compared to the former, color-coded Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS)?  Will the recent (as of 2015) updates to the NTAS make any difference? Should DHS develop a similar crisis communications or alert system developed for other hazards and disasters in addition to terrorism? 6.)Assume that you are the emergency management director or coordinator for a state or local political subdivision (i.e., county or city), or for a major volunteer or healthcare organization involved in disaster response (e.g., American Red Cross or a hospital). What are the major challenges you would confront in terms of crisis and risk communications in response to a disaster involving the mass or “mainstream” media (e.g., TV, newspapers, radio) and social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.)? Are there positive roles for these respective media? What would be your overall strategy for managing, or at least working productively with, mainstream and social media?

 Session/Week 10: Recovery (Select and respond to one question for Session 10)

7.) Find an example of a disaster (may or may not involve a presidential Stafford Act declaration) of any type that affected a state, region, local jurisdiction, tribal nation or community in the United States in the past twenty years other than the 9/11 attacks or Hurricane Katrina. Describe the challenges or issues involved in the recovery phase. What is your overall assessment or evaluation of the recovery process and assistance provided, and what more, or what different, could or should have been done?

8.) Find an example of a major corporation, nonprofit, nongovernmental or volunteer organization of any type that experienced a major disaster or disruption in the past twenty years. What is your evaluation or assessment of their planning, preparedness, mitigation, resilience and business continuity, recovery or resumption efforts? What were the impacts or effects of their resilience (or lack thereof) in terms of the local community, economy, or critical infrastructure sector?

Session/Week 11: Program Reviews and Improvement Planning (Select and respond to one question for Session 11)

9.) Select an organization, agency or jurisdiction that you are familiar with. What is your assessment of their effectiveness in terms of after-action reviews and improvement planning following any type of disaster, disruption, or critical incident? What changes, events or circumstances in the external environment, or within the organization, agency or jurisdiction, would trigger or drive updates to AARs and improvement planning? How well are improvements implemented and communicated?

10.)Find a relatively recent news story (e.g., 2010 or later) about a major incident; for example, an infrastructure disruption; a cyber attack; a natural disaster (tornado, earthquake, etc.); an outbreak causing disease or affecting health (e.g., food contamination); or an industrial accident—different than the example you used for the Week 11 discussion forum. Present an after-action review of the incident, answering questions such as these:

  • What could have been done better to prevent it?
  • How well did mitigation controls perform?
  • Was it detected in a timely manner?
  • How effective were the response strategies?
  • Were priorities appropriate?

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