Emergency management (often referred to as disaster management) is a sphere of public policy programs, which aims at creating plans, which the communities, which make them less vulnerable to various natural and man-made natural risks and hazards. The practice also shows that inability to draft and implement these plans may result in a high number of victims, damage to physical assets and other negative outcomes (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2008). Statistically, two-thirds of all American companies do not have comprehensive disaster plans, and thus, in the event a disaster happens, it is the task of local public authorities to save people’s lives and, if possible, their property.
This report addresses several intertwined objectives. Firstly, this work analyzes strategies, which are the most effective in ensuring public safety if any mass emergency or natural disaster happens. Secondly, this research analyzes advantages and deficiencies of these strategies in the given case study. Thirdly, this research focuses on analyzing the roles and responsibilities of FEMA in ensuring effectiveness of the relief operations, and explains the most effective method of coordinating relief efforts of the federal and state level emergency authorities.
Effective Response Strategy
An effective disaster response strategy contains several integral elements. Firstly, it is essential to conduct appropriate and professional pre-disaster training of the emergency staff, as well as timely evaluation of their professional skills and characteristics becomes important. In particular, the emergency committee of the local executive body should cooperate with the local businesses and organizations in order to ensure that everyone is informed about the procedures, which should be followed if an emergency befall. These organizations should, in their turn, provide training sessions to their employees, explaining, what should be done in the event of a disaster (Pinkowski, 2008).
Secondly, establishing seamless and effective lines of communication is important. Communication is a critical aspect of incident assessment. Inadequate exchange of information, its distortion or disappearance is negative for impact evaluation. As a result, the outcomes of a disaster may lead to unnecessary escalation of the situation.
Finally, effective response strategy involves prevention, mitigation and preparedness stages. The key idea of the prevention aspect is to minimize the impact of harmful human activities during the natural disaster (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2013). Mitigation stage deals with installation specific equipment, which can help to anticipate occurrence of a natural disaster. Preparedness stage deals with preparing equipment, which will be used when a calamity happens, however minimal the chances of a disaster may be.
This approach has several corresponding benefits and deficiencies:
This approach has been tested in many real-life emergency situations, though not always successfully. Yet, with each unsuccessful incident, emergency management authorities take into consideration the mistakes of their predecessor both domestically and internationally.
This approach focuses on using the most recent technological advancements.
This approach to emergency management focuses on coordination of the efforts of the public authorities, which are more resourceful and competent than the privately based than the disaster response institutions.
At the same time, it has several disadvantages:
This approach focuses on responding to the known disaster scenarios. Should anything new happen, the authorities might not be aware about the methods of proper reaction.
This approach assumes that the population of the affected regions will be following recommendations and guidance of the emergency authorities.
Roles and Responsibilities of FEMA
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a federal-based authority, which major function is to coordinate efforts of the local and federal disaster response and authorities to ensure that their actions are harmonious and complement each other. To illustrate, in a scenario given FEMA should be responsible for the following activities:
It should ensure that the training plans developed by the local emergency authorities are up-to-date, utilize the most recent technological advancement and that its staff is qualified to organize an effective response action.
In the present case, it should supervise how the local emergency authorities took into consideration the local geographical and infrastructural features of the cities in question. In particular, the port city may be used as a hub to organize evacuation of the population by sea in case of a hurricane or earthquake, especially if there is a high threat of the road network destruction. In contrast, if a danger approaches from the sea, this authority should ensure that the global relocation is executable, and that all contingencies have been taken into consideration.
As far as relief operations are concerned, FEMA should be responsible for establishing and managing the disaster management headquarters. Additionally, FEMA must guarantee that the local specialists are present, because it is they, who have the best knowledge of the local geographic specialties. Moreover, the relief operations should be executed by the local emergency teams, while the federal response teams should arrive to the disaster if the local resources are not adequate. In the extreme cases, the use of the armed forces and the National Guard may be necessary.
Emergency management is a fundamental aspect of the very American statehood (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2013). In other words, it is one of the most important responsibilities of the public authorities to develop comprehensive disaster management plans. Among other issues, the local and the federal authorities should focus on conducting effective pre-disaster training of the local population and organizing prevention, mitigation and preparedness measures. Finally, while FEMA should be responsible for efforts coordination, it is the local authorities, which should be responsible for relief work. Only when their staff and resources are not adequate to cope with the disaster, the federal agencies should intervene.
Haddow, G., Bullock, J., & Coppola, D. (2008). Introduction to emergency management. Amsterdam: Elsevier/Butterworth-Heinemann.
Pinkowski, J. (2008). Disaster management handbook. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2013). National response framework. Web. Retrieved from http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1914-25045-1246/final_national_response_framework_20130501.pdf