Emergency Management Research Paper

Pages: 5 (1577 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Business - Management

Emergency Management


Emergency management has come to the forefront with such catastrophic events as 9-1-1 and Hurricane Katrina. Most recently, we have been bombarded with news regarding the oil spill in the gulf. Disasters are bound to happen. Some are man-made and some disasters are natural. Many times we cannot foresee when a disaster will happen which is why emergency management is important. Some use the term disaster management interchangeably with emergency management and both terms mean the same thing. Emergency management deals with planning for disasters and is usually proactive in nature. If disasters such as hurricanes, floods, terrorist threats and others are carefully planned for in advance, then the response and recovery of these disasters can be minimized. The four phases of emergency management are mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. All four are necessary to have a successful emergency management plan.


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In the mitigation phase, the objective is to develop a plan to prevent any hazards from actually happening. However, since no one has control over nature and other events, the primary goal of the mitigation phase is to reduce the damage that a disaster can have. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the levees weren't strong enough so they broke causing massive amounts of water to flood New Orleans and surrounding cities. This catastrophe could have been prevented had the levees been strengthened and there was proper maintenance and upkeep so that the levee could withstand the water pounding against it. The weak levees posed a serious threat to public safety and the issue was not addressed until a disaster occurred.

Research Paper on Emergency Management Emergency Management Has Come to Assignment

Schwab and Topping state that planners play an important role in the mitigation phase because they have the ability to not only draft a plan, but also communicate the plan with clear goals and objectives which benefit and protect the community (2010). In some cities, the mitigation process may not be as time consuming because the risks are already known. Some states are prone to hurricanes or floods and plans should already be set in place to prepare the community and to also aid in a speedy response along with a quick recovery. During the mitigation phase, it must be clear that the planning stage is collective and must consider the welfare of the entire community. Government professionals cannot only focus on the jobs they are trained to perform. They must think long-term and from a standpoint of how everything is related and how things should come together in case of an emergency (Schwab and Topping, 2010).

Unfortunately, in the case of Hurricane Katrina it seems as though the mitigation process happened after the disaster took place instead of prior. There are so many issues that should have been addressed. The fact that the city of New Orleans sits right on the gulf and in an area that is susceptible to hurricanes leaves one wondering why there was no mitigation or very little in order to be prepared in case of a hurricane disaster. An important outcome of this recent disaster, the response and recovery is that mitigation has now become a top priority for many cities, even those cities that do not face the threat of hurricanes.


During the preparedness phase, certain operational procedures can be tested so that if a disaster should strike, everyone will know his role and know exactly what to do. A perfect example is a fire drill. Many offices buildings, elementary schools, universities and other establishments have practice fire drills a few times a year. These are usually not known by the building occupants, but in most cases there is a designated person to instruct and guide people so they know which exits are safe and which aren't.

Preparedness does not always deal with the safety of people. The safe guarding of information is extremely important in case of a disaster. Many organizations have some sort of backup plan for all of their technological needs. A power outage may not be seen as catastrophic as a major hurricane or flood, but if no plan is in place all information stored on computers is lost which can have a serious effect on a company's bottom line. Rosso says that information and software should be backed up on a regular basis and stored off-site. She also states that cross training employees is crucial because depending on the disaster, some employees may not be affected as much as others. In this case, it is important that cross training take place so that business functions do not come to a halt (2010).


This is how the team responds to the emergency and if the mitigation and preparedness phases are already firmly established then the response phase should go relatively smoothly. This is not to imply that the response efforts will be easy because most times this may be the most difficult phase. Some natural disasters can be track in advance, such as a hurricane or storm and this give people time to prepare and respond. The actual occurrence of a manmade disaster may not be able to be predicted, but the response can be predictable if planning has occurred. According to Eriksson, each emergency is different and will require a different response, but some demands are general for all emergencies and these should be identified early on (2009).

During the response phase such things as evacuation or finding safe shelter can take place. The initial phases of search and rescue can also happen during this phase if necessary. If there is some type of forewarning of the disaster, families can stock up on food, water and other items because depending on the type of emergency they may be trapped in their home or place of shelter for days before someone can reach them. A snow blizzard is a perfect example of where the response efforts would be for the community to take shelter. A snow storm can often be predicted days in advance allowing individuals to stock up on necessities in case they are home bound for days.


The recovery phase is deals with how well the community regroups after the disaster. Although Hurricane Katrina happened in 2005 and there have been other disasters since such as the earthquake in Haiti and the oil spill in the gulf. However, New Orleans still has not completely recovered five years later. Most of the city has been rebuilt, but because of inefficient planning many lost their lives unnecessarily and many were permanently displaced.


Small emergencies can generally be handled at the local government level. But, it is wise for local government to have an emergency plan that will incorporate all levels of government to form an emergency management team should the disaster require it. Community preparedness is important and individuals at the community or local government level should always be prepared and aware of any disasters or emergencies which may affect their community. While some emergencies are of such magnitude that they will require agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to come in and assist, many emergencies can be handled at the local level.

Contrary to popular belief, the slowness in response to FEMA of Hurricane Katrina cannot be fully blamed on the agency alone. FEMA along with other government agencies were slow to act when they knew that the hurricane had been forecast to hit the city for several days. Shughart says that federal state and local governments all neglected the warnings regarding the weak levees. They were all slow in implementing an evacuation plan and providing emergency supplies and all levels of government. He states that politicians and bureaucrats have very little incentive to plan for emergencies because the term 'risk management' is not in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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