As a member of the Salt Lake City- Emergency Operations Center (SLC-EOC), I have always thought of ways of improving the operations of my department that can lead to rapid and timely response to emergency situations within the state of Utah. In my early days, in the program, I wanted to know why emergency situations in areas within the state could spiral out of control despite strong presence of both state and federal emergency personnel available. Within the state of Utah, for example, government employees charged with defense and safety of the citizenry are available in large numbers. There are the state police, national guard, military personnel and the state firefighters just but to mention a few and not forgetting the ever willing volunteers that appear during disasters and emergency response.
It can be of great significance if the state administration finds a way of coordinating the state emergency response team to work in tandem with the volunteers under a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). However, the fire department is by far the first emergency response agency that comes to our mind when befallen by misfortunes of any kinds. The spiraling of disasters out of proportion can be salvage if there is a well-coordinated system of response encompassing all human resource within the state. The EOC need create a proper working relationship within the fire department, National Guard, CERT and volunteers, in the course of emergency response to disasters that occur within a given state. In this regard, students and staff of learning institutions like Utah Valley University (UVU) should be regarded as a member of the university community and taken through basic emergency response procedures as always done in a CERT. The state government should also carry out proper coordination with the federal government for prompt response of the Military if the need may arise and their services are needed, since the Military is under the command of the President of the United States while the National Guard fell under the command of the state governor. My interest has always been on finding better and effective ways of emergency response as highlighted below.
Innovations in Emergencies
Some forms of disasters can be receiving a timely response if only the state and federal government can embrace advancement in technology in managing disasters. Employing the use of Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) can help emergency response teams learn of a problem before any adverse irreversible damage is done. Currently, there is a state limitation to the use of UAS with concerns bordering on privacy of the citizenry, which can be tackled if proper legislation controlling their use is enacted.
Social media in emergencies, I also believe that the community involvement when it comes to responding to emergency disaster situation is of great significance. Social media comes into play in this regard due to its easy method of engagement. Social media should be used to educate citizen, a knowledge that can lead to saving of lives when unexpected catastrophes strike.
Emergency service clubs in institutions. I have always been of idea that the EOC should encourage the formation of emergency service in institutions like universities and colleges that can help in passing knowledge about timely response to emergencies within their school community. Student members of such clubs should also be encouraged to seek internship with emergency response agencies like fire department and state EOC itself.
In order to have an expeditious response to emergency disaster situations that arise with the state of Utah, proper coordination of human resources should be given significant consideration. Proper programs of coordinated response need to be put in place. These programs should be designed with the community in mind without forgetting safety of the expert responders, mostly the Fire Department. Personnel of the fire department need to be informed on proper ways of taking care of their Personal protective equipment (PPE) so as to avoid ailments that might result from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) found in burning substances. Legislator should also be implored upon to adopt bills that promote the use of innovative technologies in emergency response such as UAS.