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Bolman and Deal's Four Frames for Emergency Management

Today I was meeting with a client as part of Datalink's MECC Central rollout across Victoria, and she was telling me of the four pillars of emergency management from the Emergency Management Manual Victoria.

The four pillars are Built Environment, Natural Environment, Econonic and Social. These are used to describe the types of recovery activities for municipal emergency recovery planning, and are well-integrated into the emergency management landscape, used from planning through to funding recovery.

I was looking for scenarios to use as user stories for testing MECC Central, and it became obvious that the concept of pillars is interpreted as being mutually exclusive categories, like corporate silos.

In reality, issues cross these pillars; for example, a tree can fall over a road leaving problems in Build Environment (the road), Natural Environment (the tree), and Economic (road damage prevents it being used for commerce) pillars at once. Unfortunately, when integrating the four pillars into emergency structures, theremay be a tendancy by emergency planners to create discrete roles, and thus treat an emergency event as falling into only one of the four pillars, and this may potentially lead to an incomplete response.

This is where the idea behind Bolman and Deal's Four Frames can be adapted, to allow for better analysis of emergency events and thus plan a more thorough and coordinated response.

Bolman and Deal's Four Frames is normally used for planning change within organisations, and has four aspects - Structural, Human Resource, Polical and Symbolic.  Although the four items differ and are not mappable to emergency management, the core concept behind the frames is that the one problem can be viewed using four different perspectives, or frames, and this allows the user to fully understand the problem and then holistically decide on the required response, by deeply understanding the impact of the problem.

Back in emergency management, by converting the four pillars to four frames, emergeny management planners will be less tempted to create discrete structures in their emergency organisations to handle event response, and will be more likely to look at a single event from the different perspectives to plan holistically.

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