COMMUNITY DISASTER PLANNING.
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Preparing for local disasters, role of govt., teamwork, duties, hazard analysis, equipment, training, public information.... More...
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Preparing for local disasters, role of govt., teamwork, duties, hazard analysis, equipment, training, public information.
The Local Disaster Plan This research discusses the salient aspects of the preparation, maintenance, and projected operation of community disaster plans. "Generic, all-hazards approaches to emergency management" are often undertaken by communities faced with limited resources and multiple hazards, but disaster experts agree that the best plans are tailored to the specific types of emergencies that are most likely to occur in a particular location (Waugh & Hy, 1990, p. 293). The following discussion assumes that communities will either be developing such specialized plans or will develop general plans with multiple facets that can be initiated as needed in putting the general plan into action. Everywhere in the United States, from the hurricane-wracked East coast, to the Mi
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The notion of a collaborative mode rests on the assumption that"a general partnership involving federal and subnational efforts" indevelopment and management of plans is fundamental to such undertakings(May & Williams, 1986, p. Washington, DC: Hemisphere. G., & Brennan, J. 293). Waugh & R. The utility of all-hazardsprograms. (1986). (1992). 293-3 2). The mitigation ofdisasters includes all those activities that "reduce the degree of long-term risk" to life and property (Hy & Waugh, 199 , p. In termsof mobilization, local government undertakes to ensure that needs aredefined and recognized by agencies of the government and by the communityat large. P. 23). The preparation and maintenance of suchemergency plans involves the community's analysis of its susceptibility todisasters, identification of resources, definition of "organizationalstructures by which a coordinated response is to be made," and trainingdesigned to maintain the community's state of readiness (Lindell & Perry,1992, p. The third function, response, includes all the steps takenbefore, during, and immediately after a disaster--from activating theemergency plan to search and rescue operations. Waugh, W. Environmentand Behavior, 25, 228-249. Second, personnel should be supplied with "needed backgroundinformation, including potential problems as well as problems encounteredduring similar types of emergencies" (Hy & Waugh, 199 , p. Such activities allow personnel to test their ownreactions, and frequently produce plan modifications related to changingcircumstances and to the input of individuals involved in the exercises.Interagency and interorganizational agreements can also be tested inexercises. 49). In all such communications, no professional jargon should beemployed, and all instructions should be as simple and clear as possible.Public information begins with warnings. Within agencies, however, functions should not be toospecialized since having everyone available for every function directlyassociated with that agency is far more useful. Attentionalso needs to be paid to personnel with semi-specialized functions, such asthose who speak other languages in areas where numerous non-Englishspeakers dwell. The Local Disaster Plan This research discusses the salient aspects of the preparation,maintenance, and projected operation of community disaster plans."Generic, all-hazards approaches to emergency management" are oftenundertaken by communities faced with limited resources and multiplehazards, but disaster experts agree that the best plans are tailored to thespecific types of emergencies that are most likely to occur in a particularlocation (Waugh & Hy, 199 , p. (1995). This is partly because it would not work in any other way,because of the large numbers of agencies involved, and partly because manyof the means of communication and transportation essential to centralizedoperations may not be available in an emergency situation. Disaster planning for local government. A good plan will include the types of changesthat entail a detailed review of various provisions. Improvements in communications technology is another area inwhich disaster plans need constant updating. Since this includes a variety ofhazards, some of which may never have produced emergencies in a community,the community's interest is served, in cases where the government agencymodel is used, by hiring emergency management professionals who are trainedto recognize hazards such as industrial and public utilities malfunctions,which fall outside the group's experience. Medical care providers, for example, include alternativefacilities in their own plans. If faced with several situations at once, personnel must beable to see where their specific job lies and then must be able to invoke aset of priorities to guide them in making choices. But meeting the levels of equipmentreadiness that the plan calls for is largely the responsibility ofagencies. Hy (Eds.), Handbook of emergencymanagement: Programs and policies dealing with major hazards and disasters(pp. Plan Maintenance The planning group must be charged with maintaining the plan. 3 ).Evaluate Hazards. Coordinationand cooperation among groups is, however, the ultimate goal of an efficientplan. Warnings need to be "ranked andexplained," with the probability of the need for certain activitiesdetermining the issuing of instructions (Silverstein, 1992, p. Emergency management has four basic functions. 129). Lindell, M. Hospitals, forexample, traditionally make arrangements for water haulage with privatefirms, such as dairies, that are equipped to supply the need, and communityplans should include similar provisions for food and water (Friedman,1994). Thisincludes questions related to availability. Many locales incorrectlypresume safety from various types of hazards. New York: Greenwood. Timely, continuous reassessment of ongoing disasters is vital.Reallocation of personnel and resources is a frequent requirement and willdictate distribution of outside help when it arrives. The fourth function isrecovery. 37-38).Risk Analysis. E. In W. Everywhere in the United States, from the hurricane-wracked Eastcoast, to the Mississippi flood plains, to the earthquake zone of the WestCoast, American communities are subject to natural and human-madedisasters. Friedman, E. The community's government is responsible in both the mobilizationand collaborative "modes" identified by May and Williams (1986). 128). Once the potential hazards in a community have been identified, thecommittee must evaluate them in terms of the mitigation efforts that are inforce. Emergency management, because it involves so many peopleand so many agencies, is the responsibility of those who serve the greatestnumber. 28). Clear information and urgencywithout panic are the goals of all public information dissemination beforeand during emergencies. But, in the likely event that suchsystems are partially incapacitated, emergency personnel should try toconvey messages verbally and use maps of shelter and emergency carelocations and safe routes to be taken along with explanations ofappropriate vehicles to be taken, and identification of officials who arein charge (Silverstein, 1992, p. The necessary equipment for communications and triage, "such astriage tags, markers and taping aprons or vests, as well as flags to marktriage areas," must also be available (Fagel, 1995, p. J. W. These include continuity-of-carearrangements for current patients, and sites that can be converted forproviding emergency care. 76). J., Hagebak, B. J., & Williams, W. Training allows for the upgrading of emergencyresponse, and a plan needs to specify the frequency with which suchmeasures are carried out. Disaster education, householdpreparedness, and stress responses following Hurricane Hugo. L. Thus,in a hurricane, the range of instructions would run from boarding upwindows, to taking shelter, to commencing evacuation. Hy (Eds.), Handbook of emergencymanagement: Programs and policies dealing with major hazards and disasters(pp. As one type of personnel fulfills its specialized function, the nextgroup should be available to continue. A.(1995). This approach stresses the importance of having those who willbe working together in an emergency work together "during the planningprocess that will pre-determine their duties and working relationship"(Herman, 1982, p. (199 ). The second type is the professionalization model, in which plans aredeveloped by a community government agency charged specifically with thedisaster management function. Local government has the responsibility of soliciting the funds andarranging the support needed from higher levels of government (e.g., theFederal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA). The second function is preparedness,including those activities such as the creation of plans, warning systems,arrangement of governmental agreements, and training of emergencypersonnel. Many private facilities include arrangements for vitalsupplies such as food, medicine, and water, in their plans. This allows for information-sharing, and, when disaster strikes,personal knowledge of those with whom response managers are to work is veryhelpful. (1982). Public Information The conveying of public information takes place across a spectrum ofurgency. As Fagel (1995) suggests, in cases where a community planexists, mounting a full-scale exercise in which the plan can be tested maybe useful.Recognize Hazards. Waugh & R. Public Health Reports, 11 , 684-688. In all respects, contingency arrangements amongvarious medical and relief facilities need to be a part of the generalplan, since the availability of various sites can never be assured indisasters such as earthquakes, or industrial-environmental accidents.Equipment Required. Once possible hazards have been defined, the planners must judge thetypes and numbers of personnel needed for emergency situations. Emergency training of various typesshould also be encouraged in businesses. They mustunderstand the uses to which the efforts of various professionals are to beput, be able to exploit "the potential linkages between the activities ofvarious professional specialties," and ensure that specifications areuniform and comprehensible to all those involved in the total system (Hy &Waugh, 199 , p. Because disasters are, to varying degrees, localized phenomenaand because federal and state authorities do not take the leading inplanning, the job of disaster preparedness falls to local communities.Though the definition of community may vary considerably, depending on thenature of the threat, disaster plans are usually formulated at the city andcounty levels of government. L. Maintenancealso involves "continuous face-to-face liaison among Federal, State andlocal response managers" (Clinton, Hagebak, Sirmons & Brennan, 1995, p.688). The evaluation of hazards encompasses historical review and aknowledge of the potential for disaster in case of supposedly unlikelyevents such as public utility failures, industrial accidents, and terroristacts.Vulnerability Analysis. Thus, portions of the plan are made available, as aroutine matter, to personnel involved in various aspects of its operation.Far more important is ensuring that those who have responsibility for majorparts of then plan comprehend the total system. 19), including itemssuch as building and safety codes. In W. Hy, R. The function of emergencymanagement. Loss of power ina heavily populated area or in an area with a large number of health carefacilities would, for instance, merit a much higher, more concentratedlevel of response than such an event in non-urban areas. J. New York: Plenum. 31-32). Drills, exercises, and critiques of performance are invaluablemeasures as well. Obligation and Motivation of Government Because so many issues emerge from the problem of shared governance,recognizing from the outset that a "rational, consistent policy" onemergencies can be produced "only to the extent that all levels ofgovernment are able to successfully interact with each other" is important(Lindell & Perry, 1992, p. 28). Thereasoning behind establishing such units in local government is that, inmany cases, public safety agencies, like private resources in the agencymodel, "develop their own plans and procedures, and, while these "mayreflect an overall community philosophy [they] are often poorly cross-referenced, resulting in minimal coordination and great dependence onindividual initiative in emergencies" (Lindell & Perry, 1992, p. Concentration around certain potential disaster sites, suchas industrial plants, is also a consideration in assessing vulnerability.Vulnerability assessment is also a continuing function, "even duringperiods of disaster impact," because circumstances change very rapidly(Lindell & Perry, 1992, pp. Risk analysis involves the estimation of the likelihood of eventstaking place and, taking into consideration the transient levels ofvulnerability, allows planners to grade response levels. NewYork: Universe. Silverstein, M. At thecommunity level, however, the person with the ultimate responsibility andauthority is the highest official. E., & Styles, S. In this model, policy is developed bydisaster professionals, while agencies such as police, fire-fighting, andpublic works "are primarily involved in implementation and only secondarilyinvolved in policy formulation" (Lindell & Perry, 1992, pp. Publicity, mailings, and especially training citizengroups in functions such as triage convey the message that an organizedresponse to disaster is planned for. Planning Team Members In assigning the members of the planning team, local governments mustconsider all potential services and must be sure to involve at some level"those with the front-line response duty [who] will be most familiar withthe problems and needs to be addressed," rather than including only thosewho view planning as a political function (Herman, 1982, p. First, deployment of personnel and lines ofreporting must be very clear. Lessons form the Georgia flood. L. Lindell and Perry (1992) recommend that one full-scale exercisebe run annually. (1992). The planning committee must begin by reviewing existing plans,including separate planning by public safety agencies, and the plans of thevarious non-governmental groups, such as health care facilities and publicutilities. Leaving too many potential decisions up to those inthe field is a mistake--just as tying their hands with too much regulationis a mistake. Planning Team Duties Regardless of which membership model is developed, the duties of theplanning team are the same. Two basic models describe participation in emergency planformulation. Coping with calamity: How well does health caredisaster planning work? Plan Distribution The dissemination of the emergency plan needs to be graded accordingto need-to-know. 23). Ultimate responsibility does notnecessitate taking each decision, however, and the necessary decisionmaking authority needs to be vested in the appropriate individuals down theline, in order to avoid the paralysis of emergency efforts. Disaster Training, Drill, and Exercises The development of personnel skills and "testing the system todetermine its effectiveness and efficiency under fairly realisticconditions" are vital aspects of plan maintenance (Lindell & Perry, 1992,p. Faupel, C. In every step,television and radio must be involved. Disasters: Your right to survive.Washington, DC: Brassey's-Maxwell Macmillan. 21). Scheduling of police and firepersonnel and the readiness of supplementary personnel to be called up onshort notice is also part of this function.Facilities Required. 687). The planners also need to be aware of what resources are needed andhow they will be obtained. Third, personnel need tobe provided with "necessary logistic information about equipment,communication, health care, and safety needs" that are associated withtheir roles (Hy & Waugh, 199 , p. The planning group needs to conduct a hazards mapping operation inwhich the all various hazards that are possible threats to the communityare noted (Silverstein, 1992, p. Vulnerability assessment takes into account matters that can andshould be subject to mitigation efforts, such as housing codes, and mattersthat are subject to regular variations, such as changes in populationconcentration during the work day, during rush hours, or at large-scalepublic events. R., Sirmons, J. Concept of Operations Though emergency operations must function as a total system,decentralization and differentiation of procedures are the guidingprinciples. Louis, for example, may not have experienced earthquakes in more than1 years, but the possibility of such events is still very high (Waugh &Hy, 199 , p. Journal of the American Medical Association, 272,1875-1879. J. Behavioral foundations ofcommunity emergency planning. Sources ofsuch supplies and the government's responsibility for providing them areessential aspects of disaster plans. Workers in industries withoutregular hazards should be trained in the basics of emergency management.Disaster education programs and preparedness activities will reduce thetraumatic impact of disasters by providing people with "personal tools forliving through the experience with less physical, social and emotionaldamage than they might otherwise suffer" (Faupel & Styles, 1993, p. New York: Greenwood. 33). J., & Waugh, W. (1994). These functions can, of course, be delegated.But, in any case, such delegation needs to be codified, and the delegationof authority needs to be managed so that, in the event of an emergency, theline of authority remains clear. The following discussion assumes thatcommunities will either be developing such specialized plans or willdevelop general plans with multiple facets that can be initiated as neededin putting the general plan into action. In such cases, a planning team calls on various non-governmental resources such as public utilities (sometimes included in theplanning committee), military reserve units, social services, hospitals andother medical and care facilities, schools, transportation authorities,industrial and trade associations, and citizen response and educationgroups (Fagel, 1995, p. Herman, R. The planners need to identify the medical and relief facilitiesneeded in a disaster. K., & Perry, R. Emergency stockpiles of equipment such as cotsand blankets, as well as office supplies and other materials needed forrunning emergency operations need to be kept ready, untouched except inemergencies. A review of such duties hints at thecomplexity of these tasks, a complexity that tends to support the use ofprofessional emergency management personnel in planning.Review Current Disaster Plans. 23 ). L., & Hy, R. Cities such as Boston andSt. Certification in readiness should be a planrequirement for some types of personnel. In the ideal plan, a smooth chainof responsibility and service, into which an individual in need can beplugged, should run from rescue worker, to triage worker, to paramedic, tohealth care providers, to mental health workers who help citizens cope withthe trauma, and on to those who provide food, water, and shelter. They are also the areas in which local governments tend to stint.The expense of continuous training is, however, more than compensated forin disaster situations. The principal responsibility that devolves on local governments isthat they ensure that their plans operate as total systems. An important preliminary to emergency planning is to ensure that "theofficial with the responsibility also has the authority to get the jobdone" (Herman, 1982, 2 ). Communities are governed by those who are elected to serve the needsof the people. In addition, of course, personnel in variousagencies is constantly changing, and readiness is an impossibility withoutcontinuous training. 27). Community awareness of disaster planning is therefore a vitalaspect of any plan. Are you prepared for a disaster? In establishing suchpartnerships, however, everyone must recognize that the formulation ofprograms is the responsibility of the federal or state governments butthat, "once the program moves into the field, subnational governments havea far bigger role in management and operations" (May & Williams, 1986, p.26). This is particularlytrue of "measurements of changing health, medical, and mental healthneeds," on which federal emergency support levels are based (Clinton etal., 1995, p. As Friedman(1994) notes, in the Florida hurricane of 1992, the disaster plan estimatedthat the highest risk was of three days of inconvenience, but HurricaneAndrew produced 2 , homeless people and the infrastructure was almostcompletely destroyed.Identifying Personnel and Resources. E. Thechoice of a model thus depends largely on the availability of professionalemergency management resources in a community--which is usually, in turn, afunction of funding and the size of the community. In some cases, the most vital sites have alreadybeen determined. The first is the agency approach, in which the executiveadministration and police and fire departments, along with appropriategovernmental agencies such as public services, or public works, do theplanning. 19). 21). 75). The construction of anew chemical plant or new public facilities, such as sports arenas andshopping malls, should initiate reviews of community's vulnerability to newhazards. Retraining is often requiredin this area, even for relatively simple changes such as new versions ofsoftware or the adoption of expanded capabilities in systems. OccupationalHazards, 67(2), 75-77. In some cases, community government hasdeveloped so that authority and responsibility are separateresponsibilities--divided between two individuals. 26). (199 ). Asidefrom the regular training and drill schedules, every aspect of the plan issubject to ongoing review. May, P. Disaster policy implementation:Managing programs under shared governance. Most of these groups are mandated by law tohave their own emergency plans. (1993). Equipment that is specific to particular functions, such as fire-fighting, needs to be reviewed. Emergency Responsibilities and Functions In determining the roles and responsibilities of the variouspersonnel involved in putting an emergency plan into action, planners mustconsider four basic points. Integrating Disaster Plan Within Community In order for emergency plans to work well, those who will be aided bythe actions of emergency personnel need to be assured that a plan is beingfollowed. Responsibilities must be delineated, andpriorities must be set. Within the various levels of governmentmay be shared authority for some aspects of emergency management. Triage training is anexcellent means of training employees in making rapid decisions based onexisting priority criteria. References Clinton, J. 11-26). Fagel, M. The resulting information also has considerable publicrelations value in building credibility for the plan with the public.
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