Lessons Learned from Japan's Earthquake and Tsunami

2011 National Conference & North American Summit

Lessons Learned from Japan's Earthquake and Tsunami
October 21, 2011
Presented by the National Emergency Management Association  (NEMA) 

Presentation by John Madden, Director, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, State of Alaska and James Mullen, Director, Washington Emergency Management Division 

The tsunami that followed a devastating earthquake in Japan in March threatened to impact the U.S. Pacific Coast, causing emergency management officials to issue tsunami warnings, make evacuation decisions and implement emergency operations plans.  While states were able to handle the event, a larger tsunami could have required international mutual aid assistance. The Pacific Northwest and Canada already have an agreement in place to provide resources and assistance. This session explored lessons learned from the tragedy in Japan and ways the U.S. might respond to such a catastrophic disaster. 

Lessons Learned from Japan's Earthquake and Tsunami 


John Madden

Mr. Madden has served his state and his country for more than 40 years. First appointed by Gov. Sarah Palin in January 2007, Mr. Madden continues under Gov. Sean Parnell as the director of the Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management for the state of Alaska. This followed a year as the deputy director for Homeland Security within the division. His state service follows a distinguished career in seven federal agencies.

Madden began his public service career at seventeen with service in the U.S. Army, including twenty months in Vietnam. After his military service, he joined the U.S. civil service with the Department of the Navy. He worked in program and project management with the Naval Weapons Engineering Support Activity, Naval Electronic Systems Command, and the Joint (Navy/Air Force) Cruise Missile Project Office. After earning his degree in political science, he joined the Department of Energy as a program and policy analyst working on fossil fuels programs and alternative fuels.

In 1982, he elected to move to Alaska with the National Weather Service and supported its operations throughout Alaska. He next worked for the Alaskan Region of the Federal Aviation Administration as Executive Staff to the Regional Administrator. He also ensured continuity of operations for all FAA operations against all hazards. He supported FEMA in several exercises and served in several Disaster Field Offices, most notably in Puerto Rico and Florida in response to Hurricane Georges. He also served with the Transportation Security Administration as deputy federal security director for Anchorage International Airport and eight other Alaska airports.

James Mullen 

Jim Mullen became the Washington state director of the Emergency Management Division effective July 21, 2004.  He has been an outspoken advocate of local and county emergency managers. Innovation has characterized his tenure at Washington EMD: he has dramatically increased the public education outreach effort, which includes the highly praised Map Your Neighborhood Program initiative. A second innovation has been to increase the direct, two-way interaction between the public and private sector, with the promise of more in the future.

Mr. Mullen served as director of emergency management for the city of Seattle for 12 years.  Seattle Emergency Management received a number of national awards and other recognition during that period for community mitigation, community preparedness and disaster response planning. During his tenure he established a professional staff that was considered one of the most talented in the nation in terms of innovation and performance in nine presidentially declared disasters. The International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) recognized Mr. Mullen for his “outstanding contribution to Emergency Management” and as an “outstanding representative of our discipline”.

In October 2010 Mr. Mullen was elected vice president of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), and assumed the office of president of NEMA January 14, 2011. 

Throughout his career in emergency management, Jim has contributed constructive commentary on the impact of the Homeland Security Department upon FEMA, and the collateral impact upon the safety of the nation from all hazards. In addition to his service as NEMA vice president, he has represented the association as Region 10 vice president and as Mitigation Committee chairman. He is a member of the National Homeland Security Consortium and a driving force behind the formation of the National Collaborative Mitigation Alliance.