Storytelling & EM


I'm an Emergency Manager. I train, plan and exercise... I coordinate. But most recently I've noticed, I'm a storyteller.

When I first started emergency management, some 10 years ago I wasn't a storyteller. I'm pretty sure I had no idea what that meant and to be frank, I think I was too consumed with the training, planning and exercising to want to learn.

But as I got deeper into emergency management and public service, in general, it became apparent, that if I wanted to motivate or create movement - to drive action, I had to tell a story. And when it comes to emergency management and preparedness, let's be honest, it had better be a damn compelling story.

I went from telling people preparedness is about plastic and duct tape (I do know the finer points of sheltering in place) to sharing that preparedness is really about connection and community. From struggling to get in the door, to having people ask how they can help share the preparedness message. From not knowing the power of a story to literally singing it from the rafters (thank you, Nerd Nite SF)!

The nature of the job has changed... and not just for me (or just emergency management), but for many people. In a few short days, I'll be speaking about technology and the impact on emergency management and response. I've been mulling the topic in my journal for weeks now and while it is strewn with various impacts, I am struck that perhaps the most direct and daily impact from the technology and emergency management partnership is the expectation of transparency, particuarly in a disaster. That expectation leads directly to the necessity of becoming compelling storytellers, which motivate and inspire change.