The Value of Public–Private Partnerships in Emergency Management


Last week we finished a project with a large Pipeline company surrounding its emergency preparedness and planning. This 9-month project was not my first foray into the private EM realm, but it was the most informational. I had always know that private emergency management was strong, but I had just assumed that when the heat was on, most of the work and responsibility would fall back on the public sector. After last week’s emergency exercise, I quickly realized I was wrong, and I realized that the private piece brings a load of expertise and ability to the table.

While I recognize we still operate in a system that will identify the government EM entity as the defacto leader in an emergency or crisis, the public–private partnerships are integral. The free-market where private entities operate allows innovation and experimentation. This moves the ball down the field to a more prepared and safer community.

  • Public–private partnerships can help increase efficiency and effectiveness in disaster management.

  • Public–private partnerships can reduce the burdens placed on government to provide certain goods and services immediately and over time, permitting the public sector to focus on other important strategic priorities. If the local grocery store gets doors open, government resources can be used on other things.

  • Private companies can provide important templates informing the design of EM programs.

Private sector emergency management continues to grow, and the assumption that they must take a backseat is false. When someone had a question about pipelines last week, they did not go to the local fire chief or city police officer. They went to the expert, a pipeline representative. The private sector brings a load of expertise and ability to the emergency management field, and when effectively tapped into, can be a game changer.

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