Disaster preparedness

During disasters such as an earthquake, storm, floods or a terrorist attack, response coordination is usually overwhelmed. Such scenarios demand comprehensive disaster preparedness planning if rescue and recovery efforts are to be effectively executed. The first phase of a disaster preparedness plan entails mitigation. This is a pre-disaster management approach that mainly deals with the scale of a potential disaster and its projected effects. It encompasses all measures that can be put in place to minimize all the negative aspects of the disaster.

If property implemented, the mitigation part of a disaster preparedness plan helps allay the direct and indirect effects of the hazard. (Dheri, 2009) The next step in preparing the plan addresses the post-disaster management phase. This starts with the establishment of an incident command system. This is followed by the identification of qualified personnel or volunteers who will be responsible for various aspects of disaster response. They should be assigned functions such as incident command, finance, operations, logistics, operations, information and planning as well as any other roles necessary during a disaster.

The operations personnel should be qualified in critical disaster response aspects like site security, fire fighting, search and rescue, and first aid administration. A file with the names, titles, designations as well as home and cell phone numbers of all the identified personnel should be retained at a central location to enable their quick accessibility in times of emergency. Another major element in disaster preparedness is ensuring vital response items such as portable radios, fire extinguishers, flashlights, emergency first aid supplies are easily accessible and in proper working condition.

Most of these requirements can be internally met. (Volunteer Center Serving Howard County, 2003) Outside the organization, factors that need to be considered include identifying the nearest health clinic, police station and fire station as well as places where things like emergency generators could be obtained in case of a protracted power blackout during a disaster. Sources of additional water and food should also be identified. It is also advisable to estimate the number of people who could be affected by diverse forms of disasters.

Contacts of a local leading disaster management organization such as the Red Cross are vital in case mass shelter or its management training is necessary. When planning for disasters that might require evacuation, factors such as the number of people who might need evacuation, the evacuation site and the means of transport to the site should be considered. If a disaster is expected to be hard-hitting, the organization should put in place short-term measures to help those affected recover from the effects.