ACCORDING TO A RECENT SURVEY…
Texas Emergency Management Coordinators were recently invited to participate in the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s first online survey. The information-gathering effort was an initial step in assessing the need for a state-wide electronic planning system. In concept, the system would allow jurisdictions to upload their emergency operations plans directly to a TDEM virtual work space. This would allow jurisdictions to work with TDEM Planners online to review the documents. This survey also sought information about communications and interaction between emergency management professionals and the TDEM Plans Unit.
The vast majority of respondents supported the concept of an electronic planning system, and all respondents provided insightful feedback on a variety of planning-related matters. TDEM planners said the information gleaned from the survey has been extremely beneficial as the section explores ways to enhance the overall level of service and assistance it provides to its constituents.
Joe Ferro, the Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Webster, said he is very interested in the concept of an electronic planning system and he looks forward to seeing the concept developed. “I think it’s great that TDEM is considering this, and I especially appreciate the fact that the Division reached out to the EMCs to get their input,” Ferro said.
TDEM staff members have been using information from surveys to evaluate services the agency currently offers and to explore future initiatives.
TDEM Chief Nim Kidd said that he is a long-time supporter of assessments and surveys. He explained that there are some guiding principles in conducting this type of outreach. The first is for the division to respond to the data with action. The second is: don’t overdo it.
“These surveys are a critical tool for guiding TDEM on ways to improve support for our EMCs,” Kidd said. “We don’t want to overload EMCs with too many surveys. On the other hand, we really need their input as we move forward.”
Kidd said a third principle is follow-up. “Good customer service starts with an inquiry: What can we do for you?” He added, “Continued customer service includes another inquiry: How are we doing?”
To date, emergency management professionals in Texas have responded to five surveys on topics including the TDEM Training and Exercise Unit, the Texas Special Needs Evacuation Tracking System (TxSNETS), the FY2011 Improvement Planning Project, a survey on the annual conference, and the Texas Emergency Management Planning project. The Division has established a webpage that includes active surveys and the results from previous surveys.
“As long as people are responding, we’ll keep asking,” Kidd said. “It’s been my experience that emergency management professionals are not shy about sharing their opinions. If we ask what’s on their minds they’ll tell us. Then it’s up to us.”
All emergency management professionals are invited to participate in the active surveys and peruse the summaries of those already completed. The TDEM Survey page can be found here: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem/survey/survey.htm
Randy Dickson, Planner, TDEM Policy and Plans Unit