Emergency management of more commonly known as disaster management is defined as one of the disciplines that deals with and as well as avoiding the hazards or risks. It is one of the various disciplines that engages the preparation, support and the act of reconstruction of the society or community during the occurrence of either natural or man-made catastrophe. As a general view, emergency management is the method by which the members of a community practice in order for them to avoid disasters or managing the disasters for it to minimize its effects on the physical, emotional and sociological aspects of the lives of the people.
Emergencies happen during times that we least expect them to occur. That is why a successful emergency management is always dependent on the systematic and comprehensive planning of both the government and the community level. Each planning that is being carried out along the process by one of the community levels (individual, community and government) may affect both the performance of the other levels and the efficiency of the action that was planned.
Since the end of the Cold War, emergency management has been observed in the different nations that were engaged. The initial center of attention of emergency management then was in the protection of the civilians that were being harassed by the acts of the military employed on the roots of war. Nowadays, emergency management has changed its focus into the protection of the civilians not only in times of war but also in times of peace as well.
Another term, which is very similar to emergency management, is Civil Protection, which is widely used within the European Union. Its main focus, just like that of the emergency management is also on the protection and safety of the civilians mostly from the perils caused by natural and man-made disasters.
The process of having an effective emergency management depends mostly on the leaders of the groups or communities that are specially tasked to organize processes and ideas related to the management of the society in times of disasters. This includes the state leaders, community directors and directors in specific emergency management institutions. The responsibilities of the management coordinators as leaders in the process of disaster management rely deeply in the economic and sociological aspect of the community.
The obligations of the coordinator exist in four phases: (1) alleviation or mitigation, (2) preparedness, (3) response, and (4) recovery.
Alleviation or Mitigation
One phase of the activities that are considered obligations of the coordinator is mitigation. Mitigation activities aim to prevent the perils that can cause disasters and minimize the effects of disasters as they happen. There are two types of alleviative (mitigative) actions: the structural and the non-structural. Structural methods refer to the measures that are done by using structures to achieve the goal of the activity.
One example of structural approach of the mitigative activities is the construction of dikes and walls to prevent disasters such as flood and landslides during typhoons and other natural calamities. On the other hand, non-structural methods are the ones that include planning, investigation and legislation in the completion of the activity. Nevertheless, mitigation is not always applicable to all types of disasters and instances. Moreover, the method of structural approach to solve the problems caused by disasters may also have an adverse effect on the environment, which can also cause additional disasters.
In the second phase, preparedness stage, the coordinators tries to bring out plans and actions and factors that should be taken into consideration during the times of disasters. Different measures are being considered by the coordinators in this phase. Common types of measures on preparedness incorporates (1) communication – in this action, the coordinator should know plans should terms that can be easily understood by other in order to facilitate faster chain of order; (2) coordination with other agencies is also a need in order to have efficiency in the actions that are being taken; (3) appropriate training maintenance services should also be considered in the planning; (4) information dissemination, emergency refuge and evacuation areas and procedures; and (5) accounting, recording and maintenance of materials and equipment.
The response phase happens in the time of the occurrence of the disaster. It involves the actual deployment and mobilization of the necessities and the necessary measures and services that should be done on the peripheries of the disaster area. This includes the first people to respond to the disaster such as first aid, police, and ambulance team and fire squad. Still members of the secondary emergency service teams such as rescue and experts may also support the first responders. In addition, nongovernmental organizations such as Red Cross and Red Crescent and the specialists of the community may be there to assist in the rescue and to provide instant support and backing from the provision of first aid to the provision of drinks such as coffee.
The planning and practices that have been initially done by the coordinator and the agency very well affect this phase. Coordination and proper provision of actions and necessities is a very vital factor in order to achieve the most favorable effect of the response phase. On the other hand, there are also disasters and instances that require for a search and rescue operations even at an early point of the disaster. This instance depends on the effects of the disaster, the number of the injured and the vastness of the area that has been affected by the disaster.
The recovery phase is the fourth and the final phase of the disaster management activity that is done by the disaster management agency, which is headed by the agency coordinator. The aim of this phase is to return back the area that was affected by the disaster into its original form. The focus of the recovery phase differs significantly from the response phase. This is concerned with the actions and services that should be done after the disaster has happened while in the response phase, actions that are considered are to be taken during the time that the disaster happens.
Recovery activities and methods include rebuilding houses and the other properties that were destroyed, employment for the people whose source of living were devastated and the necessary repair of infrastructures such as bridges, roads and buildings. The recovery phase also includes the further planning and investigation on the preventions and methods that should be taken to account in case of another occurrence of a disaster.
Managers and leaders of emergency and disaster management agencies are prepared for special and specific types of disciplines that enable them to perform their duty as emergency coordinators. They can pick from varieties of concerns during their training. Emergency manages can either concentrate on administration and society preparedness such as community and government planning or even private preparedness such as business and management planning.
Trainings and preparations are often provided by the state or by the members of the government or private organizations. Initially, the members of emergency management agencies are commonly associated with military and first aid backgrounds. However, nowadays, the member of the agencies is more varied and is focused on various expertise. People with even without military or first aid background can be on the agencies. Furthermore, there are also opportunities in education which offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in emergency management and in other fields related to it.
Clearly, the obligations of both the members and the leaders of emergency management agencies and organizations are very vital in the prevention of too much losses that can be incurred as effects of natural and even man made disasters.
Khan, Adalatan. (2007). COMPREHENSIVE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT. Retrieved December 11. 2007, from http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=43689.
Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management. (2007). County Emergency Planning. Retrieved December 12, 2007, from http://www.iowahomelandsecurity.org/asp/CoEM_FR/co_planning.asp.