Introduction Local governments must cope with two types of crises: emergencies such as house fires and automobile accidents that happen every day, and crises that are commonly called disasters.
Introduction Routine emergencies such as house fires and automobile accidents happen with some regularity and, in a general way, can be anticipated or expected.
Introduction Disasters may be defined as nonroutine events in which societies or their larger subsystems are socially disrupted and physically harmed. The key defining characteristics are: Length of forewarning. Magnitude of impact. Scope of impact. Duration of impact.
Introduction A disaster changes the very character of a community, affecting the conditions under which disaster response takes place: Uncertainty (“new demands”). Urgency. Emergency consensus. Expansion of the citizenship role. Deemphasis of contractual and impersonal relationships. Convergence.
Introduction Uncertainty (“new demands”). Agent generated demands. Response generated demands. Urgency (in the face of human suffering and property damage.) Emergency consensus. Spontaneous agreement among officials and responders about priorities.
Introduction Expansion of the citizenship role. Disasters are associated with high levels of community solidarity and desire to assist with response efforts. De-emphasis of contractual and interpersonal relationships. Weakened definitions of property ownership and greater emphasis on improvisation and innovation.
Introduction Convergence. Concern, empathy, and curiosity.
The Emergency Plan and Response Management What is an emergency plan? A plan composed of decisions made during “normal” times to help guide decisions during a disaster. Since disasters rarely happen repeatedly in a community, most of an emergency manager’s job is planning.
The Emergency Plan and Response Management The emergency plan is linked to the response phase in two ways. During the planning process, the major agent- generated and response-generate demands are identified and strategies are developed to meet them. Then, in the response phase, the strategies are implemented and evaluated. The second connection between the plan and response is exercises (preparedness). Example:
Organizational aspects of response The functions of local emergency management remain fairly constant. The key to disaster response is the emergency operations center (EOC). Master coordination and control point for all counter-disaster efforts. The EOC is a function, a place, a structure, and a culture.
Organizational aspects of response Functions of EOC. Coordination. Policy-making. Operations management. Information management and record keeping. Public information. Hosting visitors.
Organizational aspects of response Coordination. Central activity of response (focuses on response-related demands. Requires assessing the threat and marshalling organizational resources for concerted action to counter the threat. Make sure responder organizations are working together and understand one another’s missions and responsibilities.
Organizational aspects of response Policy making. Make the policy decisions that guide the overall community response to the disaster. Operations management. Actions undertaken to meet agent-generated demands. The constellation of agent-generated demands changes over the course of a disaster.
Organizational aspects of response Information gathering. The local EOC must collect and disseminate a variety of disaster-relevant information. Damage assessment. Execution of disaster response. Timing and effectiveness of management decisions. Nature of the threat and effectiveness of response for responder organizations. Community-wide response measures for elected officials.
Organizational aspects of response Public information. General public and public at risk, mass media. EOC as point of contact for all media. Key piece of information is accurate portrayal of risk. Hosting visitors. Usually elected officials.
Organizational aspects of response EOC as a place. EOC is not the same as field operations center. Local governments frequently do not have permanent EOC’s. Should have a list of equipment and resources at a minimum. All command posts should have representatives at EOC.
Organizational Aspects of Response EOC as a structure. Representatives: fire, police, public works, EMS, private utilities, Red Cross, Salvation Army. Perhaps, NWS, FEMA, USFS, USGS. Staff from county or state. Staffed by officers with specific functions: public information, communications, damage assessment, operations and resource planning.
Organizational aspects of response EOC as structure (contd.). Management left to emergency operations coordinator or manager. In many cases, the position is taken by chief executive (mayor, city manager, etc.). Two management patterns. Emergency manager is coordinator. Emergency coordinator operates with advisory committee.
Organizational aspects of response Decision-making climate in the EOC. Stresses in decision-making climate. Pressure to take action; Limited and uncertain information; Shifting priorities; and Overlapping lines of authority and responsibility. Decision-making in an EOC is carried on in a high-pressure, emotionally charged atmosphere. Stresses can be reduced: Planning. Regular exercises.
Organizational aspects of response Special issues for EOCs Activation and deactivation of EOC. Should be addressed in emergency plan. Internal management of the EOC. Staff support. EOC operations. Use of microcomputers. Communications issues. Channel capacity, multiple channels, and planning for viable communications system.
Organizational aspects of response Disaster Declarations. Local and state emergency powers. Federal process. Damage assessment. Preliminary assessment by EOC to mayor. Formal request by mayor to governor. Request by governor to FEMA. FEMA damage assessment. FEMA Director reviews report, makes recommendation to the President. Staff reviews FEMA recommendation, makes recommendation to the President. President decides.
Behavioral Responses to Disasters Victim’s responses (myths). Disasters do not appear to be associated with significant increases in mental health problems. Disaster syndrome is limited. Arises most commonly in sudden onset disasters with unfamiliar agents. Transient (a few hours). Syndrome only affects a minority of population. Responds well to crisis intervention. No panic flight. Emergency managers should always err in favor of sharing information rather than withholding to prevent panic.
Behavioral Responses to Disasters Emergency responders (myths). No abandonment of role. Psychological stress. Responders tend to suffer cumulative stress that does not affect their immediate functioning, but may affect how long they do the job. Field workers have less stress (and different stress) than EOC workers.
Generic Functions Warning system. Should in emergency plan. Three components. Environmental monitoring. Notification. Threat assessment. Evacuation. Potential risk to evacuees. Three types of movement. No private vehicles. Handicapped residents. Institutionalized residents.
Generic Functions Victim sheltering and welfare. Emergency or temporary sheltering. Requires sheltering coordinator to work with sheltering nonprofits. Recording systems. Decision guide. Clothing and sleeping. Bathing. Food. Pets. Children.
Generic Functions Emergency medical care and morgues. Specify lead organizations. Search and rescue. Often takes place in loosely structured situations with uncertain authority. Identify lead organization or coordinator critical. Coordination between SAR and EMS and shelter. Unplanned contact with media. Urban heavy rescue component. List of heavy equipment and resources.
Generic Functions Security and protection of property. Routine generic function. In SOPs of organizations involved in response. Three critical issues. Rules for who is in charge at the scene. What access to the impact area will be permitted. When access required for an extended period, patrol system or surveillance will be necessary.
Changing Roles of Emergency Managers Central role in response belongs to the emergency manager. Comprehensive emergency management cannot be handled by police or fire chiefs in conjunction with their other duties. Risks for natural, technological, and civil sources increasing.
Changing Roles of Emergency Managers Desirable characteristics for emergency managers. An effective emergency manager must have some political acumen and must certainly understand the processes of government. An emergency manager must be familiar with the characteristics of a variety of hazards, be able to determine when expert help is needed, and know where to get the help. Emergency managers must also cultivate communication skills and the ability to coordinate people and organizations.