What are we reading?

book with letters falling into it

Responding to and recovering from a disaster is never simple. Just defining the problems caused by the disaster can prove difficult given the complexity of a modern city.  Solutions are rarely simple or easy to put into action. Our communities are made up of smaller communities who sometime have different cultural beliefs or speak different languages than the mainstream. The technology our community relies upon is much more complex and interrelated than even 10 years ago, making them vulnerable in a large disaster.  Finally, the expectation of the public regarding how quickly we can return to normal is often unrealistic. The following papers, articles and presentations underscore the need for us to quickly understand the problems we face in a disaster and the importance of thinking 'outside the box' when we are developing solutions to those problems. It covers a broad range of topics that we hope will inform responders, both the professionals and the community, to better respond and recover quickly following a disaster.    

The 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review

Managing the Unexpected: Resilient Performance in an Age Of Uncertainty; Karl E. Weick and Kathleen M. Sutcliffe

Why are some organizations better able than others to maintain function and structure in the face of unanticipated change?  Authors answer this question by pointing to high reliability organization such as emergency rooms in hospitals, flight operations of aircraft carriers and firefighting units, as model to follow. 

DECISIVEHow to Make Better Choices in Life and Work; Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Explores how our decisions are disrupted by an array of biases and irrationalities and introduces a process designed to counteract these biases.  Written in an engaging and compulsively readable style Decisive takes readers on an unforgettable journey from a rock star's ingenious decision making trick to a CEO's disastrous acquisition to a single question that can often resolve thorny personal decision.


SWITCH How to Change Things When Change Is Hard; Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities and in our own lives? The primary obstacle, say the authors, is a conflict that is built into our brains.  They explore the concept of two different systems that rule our minds, the rational and the emotional mind.  The rational mind wants to change something at work, the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine.  In Switch the authors show how everyday people have united both minds and as a result, achieved dramatic results.


The Human Side of Disaster; Thomas E. Drabek

Dr. Drabek draws upon his 40-plus years of conducting research on individual, group and organizational responses to disaster.  He illustrates and integrates key insights from the social sciences into a comprehensive summary of findings regarding disaster warning responses, evacuation behavior, initial post-impact survival behavior, roles and emergency actions of volunteers and both short-term and longer-term impacts.


The Signal and the Noise: Why so Many Predictions Fail -- but Some Don't;  Nate Silver

This books explores a wide variety of topics and how they impact predictions.  It is a study of why some predictions succeed and why some fail.  It attempts to gain insight into planning our futures and reduce the chance will will repeat our mistakes. 

  • Seattle Fault Scenario: The Seattle Fault Earthquake Scenario created a unique opportunity to draw on the knowledge and advice of many of the region's experts in the fields of earth and life sciences, earthquake engineering, planning and emergency management. The multi-disciplinary team developed a broad, unbiased look at the Puget Sound region's and the State of Washington's vulnerability to one of their top earthquake threats-the Seattle Fault.

  • Emergency 2.0 Wiki Accessibility Toolkit: The online toolkit provides tips, resources and apps to assist people with a disability to overcome accessibility challenges of social media.  The kit also includes practical guidelines to assist the emergency sector, government, community, media and business to make social media messages more accessible.

  • Seattle Tsunami Inundation Simulation: This website shows how a Tsunami would impact the shoreline along Elliot Bay
  • Guideline-Post Disaster Contract Safety Evaluations:  In the event of a natural disaster, this wite paper is intended to establish standard processes by which engineering firms may provide building safety evaluations under contract to a building owner, and would provide notification to the local building official of the results.