The Emergency Management Committee's mission is to provide APWA members with resources and a forum for exchanging and developing ideas, knowledge, and technologies for minimizing the impact and consequences for disasters.  It also intends to foster recognition of public works' important role(s) in emergency management, including its strong involvement in mitigation and recovery, as well as to influence public policies that will strengthen the ability of government at all levels to better address disaster management. 
A Message from Mike Sutherland, Emergency Management Technical Committee Chairperson, 2015-2016
Changes occur rapidly in the world of Public Works, particularly in the roles we play in our planning, preparation, response and recovery for and from disasters. Each year the extraordinary events that happen change significantly, from the types of disasters to the shifting patterns of geographical locations. Droughts were devastating broad regions from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians last year, and now are baking large areas of California. Flood damage shifts from region to region, and this year hurricanes batter the Hawaiian Islands and leave the East Coast untouched. Unexpected landslides have hit Washington and Colorado, leaving unimaginable death and destruction behind, while coastal communities, regions and states are formulating plans for rising sea levels.
As has been stated before in many ways, change is the only constant. True resilience comes only from a perennial ability to adapt to evolving environmental and man-made challenges of immense proportions. As Public Works organizations we need to evolve continuously, train extensively and collaborate repeatedly with many disciplines and agencies that a decade or so ago we may have only interacted with occasionally, or from afar.
Today, as recognized First Responders, we are an integral part of the “All-Hazards” and “Whole Community” approach to both emergency management and homeland security. It’s no coincidence that many states are beginning to combine homeland security and emergency management into a unified division or department, with Minnesota and Colorado as two examples. Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) are more frequently including staffing and subject matter expertise from Public Works engineering and operations professionals. State and regional intelligence fusion centers are beginning to realize the value of our industry experiences and knowledge, and inviting us to participate, appreciating us as force multipliers in their efforts.
Your Emergency Management Technical Committee and subcommittee members are dedicated to representing our association in ways never envisioned only a few years ago. Contributions from individuals across the United States and Canada are building credibility, relationships and learning opportunities that elevate our industry status among emergency services peers. As individuals and leaders, each of us is called to action in furthering education, training, exercising, and preparedness throughout all Public Works agencies.
Collaboration between APWA and FEMA/EMI led to the creation of four public works-centric online courses, available as independent study programs. Compliance with National Incident Management System (NIMS) requires that all agency responders complete IS-100, IS-200, IS-700 and IS-800 online courses. Together with the following four, a well-rounded training base is available to all organization staff—at no cost, other than the commitment of time.
IS-552 The Public Works Role in Emergency Management
IS-554 Emergency Planning for Public Works
IS-556 Damage Assessment for Public Works
IS-558 Public Works and Disaster Recovery
In addition to system training, the Emergency Management Committee recommends that agencies enhance continuity of operations plans (COOP) by maintaining current resource lists, and “typing” of all equipment using FEMA standards. Also, when possible brainstorm on contingency planning for various extraordinary events that may threaten your community, and envision effects of supply chain disruptions that might hamper a department’s ability to respond to your full capabilities.
In 2014 the Ebola Virus was in the news on a regular basis.  APWA has collected information and resources which might be useful to public works professionals.  The information is listed in the APWA Resource Center under Ebola: Public Works Preparing and Responding.
Finally, we urge your teams to take a lead in using community and special events as training and process opportunities with the Incident Command System (ICS).
If you would like to be involved in the work of the Emergency Management Committee or one of the subcommittees, please contact me ( or any of the other committee members.