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How Prepared Are American for DisasterResearch Paper

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Personal Preparedness in America

Each day, some or other individual(s), somewhere in America, is recuperating from a calamity. Though a decline has been observed in the past year in declared disasters to 6 national emergencies and 45 declarations by the President (Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA], 2104), manmade or natural catastrophes, for numerous American citizens, occur almost once every year. Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator, has clearly stated the value of individuals' preparedness in USA's disaster response ability. He bluntly asserted, at a Congressional hearing in July 2009, before the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management subcommittee, that each family that does not take the most rudimentary of preparedness steps draws critical resources and response personnel away from areas and individuals that truly require aid (Fugate, 2007)

The field of emergency management refers to management of multidisciplinary personnel and complex systems for tackling extreme occurrences, across every hazard category, and via the stages of preparation, relief, response, and revival. Healthcare professionals, including hospital workers might liken emergency management undertakings to the Disaster Committee of their respective organization (thus the recommendation for a change in name to Emergency Management Team). The different emergency management undertakings of a response body can, together, be called an organizational Emergency Management Program (EMP). The word 'program' is utilized as it implies a constant, on-going activity, while the word 'plan' is typically employed to denote a sequence of actions occurring only as a response to specific circumstances. EMP activities deal with the preparation, relief, response, and revival stages, and are founded on hazard vulnerability analysis (HVA). If this analysis is effectively carried out, potential threats will be ascertained, and their possibility of occurrence, likely impact, and vulnerabilities of the organization to their effect evaluated, providing a base to understand how to manage organizational vulnerabilities and hazard likelihood (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2012).

Emergency Management represents the joint, coordinated integration of related stakeholders into its four stages, in relation to environmental, deliberate, and technological risks (NGA, 1978). In spite of the balanced tactic perspective, intrinsic to the aforementioned 'emergency management' definition by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), emergency management plans have, conventionally, been nearly the same as the preparedness stage -- the development of a plan for emergency operations by an emergency program head, and subsequent training and drills on this plan (Blanchard, 2007). Hence, personal preparedness represents a central emergency management stage or subset.

Personal preparedness involves being prepared for any kind of emergency at home, at the workplace, in one's car, and every place one visits. Such efforts must be collective. They represent the actions taken by people prior to the onset of a crisis, for being well-prepared to react to and recuperate from various hazards. A plan is the key to individual preparedness. An individual preparedness plan comprises all of a person's job-specific and personal emergency contact details, list of crucial documents (which must be developed prior to leaving for one's post), friendly embassies' addresses, directions to get to rally points, and addresses of helpful neighbors. After attending post security sessions, and any individual preparedness workshop, individuals will obtain a better grasp of how they can be prepared, as well as the information required if one has to exit one's post all of a sudden. Ensure the Community Liaison Officer and Human Resource Office possesses personal and dependents' contact details (phone number and email ID) (The Family Liaison Office, 2013).

Despite allotment of heaps of money and several years of disaster preparedness public drives, there are several American citizens totally unprepared for catastrophes, at least according to the FEMA (and U.S. disaster management community's) definition of preparedness. The issue, probably, is not only with the message's recipient. It may be that the message broadcasted is itself at fault. Are the steps to be taken by the public practical in terms of lifestyle and income constraints, sensible on basis of identified threat, and reflect self-perception and how a person may elect to act based on how he/she perceives and reacts to a disaster? (Dragani, 2015)

This paper will look into individual preparedness in the U.S., and the relation of emergency management to it. An in-depth analysis of emergency management, personal preparedness, disaster preparedness model, and obstacles to preparedness will be covered.

Emergency management

"Emergency management" encompasses all activities performed by local, state, and federal bodies (i.e., EMAs or emergency management agencies), and, in a broader context, private and public sector efforts to handle all forms of disasters, hazards, and risks. Emergency management constitutes the managerial role in charge of devising a framework for communities or organizations to lower their hazard vulnerability and respond effectively to crises. The function aids in protecting citizens, by integrating and coordinating all essential activities for constructing, sustaining, and improving the ability to prepare for, mitigate, react to, and recuperate from actual or threatened natural catastrophes, terrorist acts, and other manmade calamities. All-hazard disaster management results in creation of a system wherein organizations employ a Disaster Management process or cycle for readying themselves for the different emergencies they may encounter (International Association of Emergency Managers, 2008).

A disaster management process or cycle constitutes a four-part, circular, all-hazards activity, starting at any juncture in the process continuum; however, often, it commences with the mitigation stage -- i.e., steps for preventing a disaster from occurring or reducing its impact, followed by preparedness that entails planning for different dangers or catastrophes; this in turn is followed by the process of response, in the event a disaster occurs, and lastly recovery -- an endeavor whose objective is to return to the earlier state; this includes recommencement of regular activities. The process of recovery may have several steps -- the numerous intermediate levels involved help reach ultimate recovery. Following a disaster, the process must be recommenced, beginning with an assessment post-crisis for further planning and mitigation efforts (Lindell, Prater, & Perry, 2006).

Phases of EMP

Traditionally, emergency management has been described through "phases," and terminology like prepare, mitigate, recover and respond. The common usage of the terms preparedness, mitigation, recovery, and response for outlining inclusive emergency management stems from a late 70s' work conducted by the NGA (National Governors' Association). In the year 1977, this Association created a Disaster Assistance Subcommittee as a response to Governors' concerns concerning the absence of emergency management efforts coordination at state as well as federal levels. Over a hundred programs at the national level were dispersed across various agencies, some of which concentrated on protection and defense of civilians against attacks from hostile forces, and others concentrated on natural calamities. In the year 1978, a team was established within the NGA's Policy Research Center (now called the Center for Best Practices), for exploring the issue under the "Emergency Preparedness Project" initiative (NGA 1979). In the year 1979, in a directly linked action, the then-President Carter, who was earlier a Governor, instituted FEMA through a Presidential Executive Order, combining various disaster-related initiatives from different agencies at the federal level (Baird, 2010).

Mitigation

Mitigation incorporates all efforts targeted at eliminating or lowering the likelihood of occurrence of an emergency, or eliminating or lowering impact of a disaster that has occurred. In inclusive emergency management, activities connected with this phase are commenced at a time prior to a real or approaching risk impact. After a real or impending risk impact is identified, the actions that follow come under 'response', and not 'mitigation'. This prevents the confusion occurring with hazardous materials (HAZMAT) discipline's usage of mitigation, applying to response endeavors that lower impact of spill of hazardous material. Mitigation represents emergency management's keystone, as all response plans hinge on the survival of medical assets in a disaster, and operations maintenance in the post-disaster setting (i.e., resiliency of medical system). A successful mitigation effort commences with, and is centered on, an authentic HVA, since this assists organizations in prioritizing problems during preparedness planning and follow-on mitigation phases (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2012).

Preparedness

This includes actions aimed at building organizational ability, skills, and resiliency to react to and recuperate from risk impacts. It involves activities which institute, exercise, maintain, and improve systems used in emergency recovery and response. The main task in planning emergency preparedness is defining the processes (interactions and actions required) and system (organization of assets) driving disaster response and restoration of things to normal. This is achieved via the creation of a sound Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). Staff must be coached and instructed on this system for developing required capabilities and knowledge for adequately carrying out the roles assigned to them. It is imperative to bear in mind that the systems and processes employed for performing preparedness tasks (memo writing, structure of committee and meetings, regular meeting notification via email, etc.) are not normally adequate to use in emergency response. Organizations frequently overlook this point while striving to make use of emergency preparedness teams and their related processes and structures for managing response to a disaster. The EOP describes effective tactics and practices for emergency response… [END OF PREVIEW]

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