Sample Certificate Exam Questions – Whole Community

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CEM® Corner: Sample Questions – Whole Community

By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, MEP, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission, and Chair, IAEM-Global Communications Work Group

In a previous CEM Corner article on Program Management, we discussed the concept of comprehensive and integrated emergency management, which includes all stakeholders. FEMA has coined a new term for “all stakeholders” or “partners” to make its meaning more inclusive. That term is the Whole Community. The basic reference for this concept is A Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management: Principles, Themes, and Pathways for Action (December 2011). A free copy is available online. In addition to this base document, the term is used throughout the National Planning Frameworks in lieu of “all stakeholders.” FEMA has requested IAEM adopt the Whole Community concept, and we agreed. Therefore, the CEM exam has been revised to include that term. So this month we will briefly discuss the concept of the Whole Community.

Whole Community Defined

There exists a wide diversity of communities across the globe, both geographically and virtually. They include “communities of place, interest, belief, and circumstance.” According to the FEMA website, the Whole Community consists of “individuals and families (including those with disabilities and others with access and functional needs), businesses, community and faith-based groups, nonprofit organizations and all levels of government.” This is truly what the term “all stakeholders” was meant to convey.

The Whole Community approach, to be effective, engages “the full capacity of the private and nonprofit sectors, including businesses, faith-based and disability organizations, and the general public, in conjunction with the participation of local, tribal, state, territorial, and federal governmental partners.”

Whole Community Benefits

By employing the Whole Community approach to emergency management, we engage all groups and organizations to improve overall preparedness. That is, we “improve the ability of local residents to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from any type of threat or hazard effectively.”

To this end, FEMA identified the benefits of the Whole Community approach to emergency management. They are:

  • Shared understanding of community needs and capabilities.
  • Greater empowerment and integration of resources from across the community.
  • Stronger social infrastructure.
  • Establishment of relationships that facilitate more effective prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery activities.
  • Increased individual and collective preparedness.
  • Greater resiliency at both the community and national levels.

Whole Community Principles and Strategic Themes

By implementing the Whole Community approach to emergency management, we build a more resilient community and provide for more “effective emergency management outcomes.” So according to FEMA, there are three guiding or foundational principles to the Whole Community approach to emergency management. They are:

  • Understand and meet the actual needs of the whole community,
  • Engage and empower all parts of the community, and
  • Strengthen what works well in communities on a daily basis.

FEMA also identified six strategic themes supporting the Whole Community.

  • Understand community complexity,
  • Recognize community capabilities and needs,
  • Foster relationships with community leaders,
  • Build and maintain partnerships,
  • Empower local action, and
  • Leverage and strengthen social infrastructure, networks, and assets.

These six themes “represent pathways for action to implement the principles.” Emergency managers can apply these principles and themes in each of the five mission areas – prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery – under the Preparedness umbrella.
The document, 23 pages long, goes into great detail on each principle and theme. Be sure to read about all of them.

FEMA IS Resources

In addition to the base document, FEMA includes the Whole Community approach to emergency management in a few independent study (IS) courses. FEMA does not have an IS course dealing specifically with the Whole Community. Please review the following IS courses as you study the Whole Community approach to emergency management.

  • IS-1.a Emergency Manager: An Orientation to the Position.
  • IS-230d Fundamentals of Emergency Management.
  • IS-235c Emergency Planning.
  • IS-910.a Emergency Management Preparedness Fundamentals.

Practice Questions

For examination purposes, candidates should be familiar with the concept of the Whole Community. Here are two core-type questions for our analysis in this article.

1. How does the emergency manager and planning team develop a better understanding of the Whole Community?

a. Analyze past after action reports on recent community disaster events.
b. Learn how social activity is organized on a normal basis.
c. Review the community’s land use maps.
d. Study the predominant foreign language.

This question is asking you about a technique that will allow the emergency manager and the planning team to look at all of the members of the community. The first response of looking at old after action reports may reveal a little about decisions that were made, but it doesn’t provide details of how those decisions were made and what groups were involved. The second response of learning how the community organizes during normal times does provide details on social patterns, community leaders, points of collective organization and action, and decision-making processes, which helps define a particular community.

The third response of reviewing land use maps will describe the legal uses of various land parcels or areas. It doesn’t provide much information about the community and its members. The fourth response of studying the predominant foreign language may assist with communications with a particular community group, it won’t tell you much about the other groups and processes within the community.
Therefore, the correct response is b. See the Whole Community base document.

2. Under the Whole Community approach to emergency management, citizens and private individuals in the community have critical roles to play. Which of the following lists some of their roles in building and sustaining a secure and resilient community?

a. Developing business continuity plans.
b. Providing emergency shelters.
c. Reducing hazards in and around their homes.
d. Speaking another language.

In this question, we are asking you to recognize the role citizens and private individuals have under the Whole Community approach to emergency management. The first response is to develop business continuity plans. While this is an important role in community resilience, and it is something the Whole Community does, it is a role specific to the private sector and not individuals. The second response is to provide emergency shelters. Although some people may provide emergency shelter to select individuals and families, it is not a role for all the citizens and private individuals in the Whole Community. This is a role of the nonprofit sector.

The third response is to reduce hazards around their home. This is certainly a role for all citizens and private individuals in the community. The fourth response is to speak another language. While speaking other languages are helpful, and governments, the private sectors, and public sectors do need to have the ability to translate their messages into the languages used by the Whole Community, it is not a defined role for citizens and private individuals. Therefore, the only correct response is c. See IS 230.d.

For all examination questions, read fully the questions. Be sure you understand exactly what the question is asking of you and read each response before selecting the correct one.

In the Next CEM Corner

Next month we return to our discussion of Implementation, with a focus on Crisis Communications and Public Information. We also will analyze some practice exam questions. As usual, please send any questions you have about the examination or the certification process to me at info@iaem.com, and I will address them in future articles.

IAEM Bulletin, September 2016

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