HLSC 600 Explain The Planning Process
Lecture Notes: Planning
Emergency management planning is a broad term that encompasses many principles of emergency, risk, disaster, and hazard management as well as those aspects of civil defense and protection typical of emergency preparedness. While the terms emergency, disaster, and hazard may be synonymous to some degree (especially emergency and disaster), it is probably important to be somewhat careful with definitions. To begin with, let us ask “What is “emergency?” The definition of emergency is “an exceptional event that exceeds the capacity of normal resources and organizations to cope.” All emergencies are by definition dangerous, which means that the potential loss of life is involved, so this is why emergency and disaster are quasi-synonymous. Disaster is defined by Black’s Law Dictionary as “a calamitous event causing great loss of life, damage, or hardship,” and by Perry (2006) as “a failure of the social system to deliver reasonable conditions of life.” Clearly, disaster is somewhat ambiguous, and care must be taken to distinguish it from other states of emergency. In this regard, Alexander (2002) says there are four levels of EMERGENCY:
· routine dispatch problem — the most minor of emergencies, involving first responders
· incident — any emergency a jurisdiction can handle without needing to call in outside help
· disaster — an incident or catastrophe involving substantial destruction and mass casualty
· national (or international) disaster — a disaster of substantial magnitude and seriousness
Besides the problem of overlap between emergency with disaster, there is also the problem of confusing catastrophe with disaster. The word “catastrophe” has forensic implications since numerous expert witnesses exist who call themselves “catastrophe experts” and newly emerging methods by those experts (Mudge, 2008) tend to focus upon environmental contamination after a disaster. A true disaster is closer to an emergency than a catastrophe. The following illustrates those consensus definitions of DISASTER:
· an interruption of normally effective procedures for reducing certain tensions, together with a dramatic increase in tensions (this definition emphasizes the ideas of social readjustment, negative social consequences, and is at root, the notion that disasters reflect “extreme situations”)
· a disruption of the social order, producing physical destruction and death that becomes important because people must cope by departing from the pattern of norm expectations (this definition emphasizes the ideas of negative consequences, but also emphasizes the sociological notion of “norm expectations”)
· the loss of life is an important element, but the defining feature is that they make people adopt new behavior patterns (this definition emphasizes socio-psychological notions, and led to more modern sociological notions)
· an event impacting an entire society or some subdivision and including the notion of real impact with threat of impact, with emphasis upon the fact that essential functions of society are prevented [this is the Fritz’s (1961) definition which is widely cited as the consensus definition among sociology-oriented disaster researchers]
The basic elements of an emergency plan are: 1) Context – legislative framework, participating organizations. 2). Scenarios – hazard, vulnerability, risk, and impact. 3). Emergency needs – search and rescue, medical care, public safety, food and shelter, damage prevention and limitation. 4). Available resources (structure, items, competencies) – manpower (personnel), equipment, vehicles, and buildings and facilities. 5). Resource utilization – application of resources to problems posed by scenario, dissemination of plan, and testing, revising and use of plan.
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