Table of Contents
Emergency management encompasses all efforts that aim at preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation of disasters. Disasters may range from natural calamities such as flooding to terrorist attacks. Right from the 19th Century, there has been no considerable effort by authorities to make emergency management an aspect of priority, and that explains why not much has been achieved in this area. Some great calamities such as the Hurricane Catrina were contributed by lack of recovery efforts, whose presence could have helped to fix the situation. This is, however, not to say that they are no trends that we can learn from and forecast the future. Some of the ideas which if implemented can of considerable importance for the future of emergency management include taking risk management as a practical philosophy, embracing new technology, focusing on demographic changes and giving emergency management a new look. In this reading, we expound on the importance of considering such ideas as emergency management continues to evolve.
Emergency management refers to the aspect of organizing resources as well as responsibilities with the aim of dealing with humanitarian aspects of emergency such as preparedness, recovery, and mitigation (Canton, 2007). Such actions help in reducing dangerous effects such as disasters. In the 1960s, the Federal government became more concerned about the series of disasters that were facing the community (Canton, 2007). In 2003 the Obama administration considered FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) a key player in the recovery phase of disasters. The possibility of experiencing a disaster such as an earthquake, flooding and terrorist attacks is inevitable. Therefore, systems must be put in place within the community in efforts to prepare for and respond whenever such events arise. Emergency management systems can respond effectively to natural calamities by embracing lessons that have been learned from past occurrences and then thrive in the future with a progressive agenda (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2010). By understanding the past trends, it becomes easy to forecast and set goals. This paper will, therefore, expound on the primary four ideas which must be heeded for the future of emergency management.
First Idea: Risk Management
The first concept calls for the adoption of risk management as the functioning philosophy other than emergency management. Risk management is the process of determining and assessing risks and then applying the appropriate strategies that will control any possible impacts (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2010). Unlike emergency management which is reactive, this idea is proactive in that it requires rigorous analysis and includes acceptance of a level of failure. Some of the strategies used for risk management include the transfer of the risk to another party such as an insurance company and taking measures that will prevent the risk from happening such as through land use planning. The other thing is minimizing the adverse impacts associated with the risk and deciding to cope with some of the consequences of a particular risk (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2010). Since new threats are emerging day by day despite having limited resources to address them, it will be valuable that FEMA considers emergency management with risk management. The process helps to identify the source of problems from past events and then use the data for improvement in the future. However, for such an action to be successful, the community must be engaged and educated so that they become more resilient from future disasters.
Second Idea: New Technology
The other option is to embrace and take advantage of emerging technologies such as GPS so as to enhance capabilities. Of late there has been an upsurge in the use of various mapping and social networking technologies which if properly utilized can be staples of management toolkit. Social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allows for real-time sharing of information about what is taking place in areas where disasters have occurred, and are already in common use among the general public (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2010). Emergency management can also make use of these tools to educate the public or gather useful information from them. The concerned staff should collaborate with technologists to develop solutions for issues such as risk analysis, better rapid damage, economic loss approximation, damage assessment logistics, public warnings and mitigation measures (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2010). One practical example of how technology can be applied in the current context is noted in Florida whereby through the Emicus platform locals can be able to retrieve information on important matters such as the location of hardware stores (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2010). These users can equally input their suggestions which are then shared on a common interactive map.
Third Idea: Demographic shifts
The third option is to adapt to both demographic and sociological changes that are taking place. The society is changing in ways that are likely to affect emergency management operations. Some of these changes include aging, a large number of individuals suffering from functional disabilities, and high concentrations of non-native speaking populations (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2010). Such variations increase demands on warnings, evacuations and sheltering; all these factors will affect how emergency managers operate (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2010). There is considerable information in existence about different social and economic vulnerability factors, but it is only when professionals with the responsibility of managing risks embrace such strategies in their planning efforts, and advocates for further research into areas of deficient understanding, that sociological and demographic factors will stop confounding on their operations.
Fourth Idea: New Concept
Finally, with the rising environmental threats such as global warming, it is critical that emergency managers give a new look to the aspect of emergency management (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2010). This way, it will be possible to assess and comprehend challenges faced in the current cycle and which have not been taken considered. Each person must take it a personal responsibility to take mitigation as part of their daily engagement (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2010). This will ensure that whichever decision they make they are more vigilant and considerate of the possible consequences. Whenever there is a disaster, there always arise barriers that propel emergent managers to disagree on the best way to implement the long-term recovery process. For instance, misunderstandings occur within the community on whether mitigation measures should be taken before the disaster arises or after the risk has already been delineated. But according to the Multi-hazard Mitigation Council, taking the long-term recovery process after the disaster offers the most convenient political environment for enhancing mitigation (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2010).
A reading from the council proposes to FEMA a new management structure that will address the functions of preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2010). According to this proposal, reduction as a long-term recovery process will be promoted by a different quasi-governmental structure. The private sector being part of the community would be considered a significant player in these functions either in preparedness or response through the provision of resources in partnership with both local and state emergency management (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2010, p 351).
Difference between the Four Ideas
In the first idea of adopting risk management as the practical philosophy, the approach can only apply if the risk has already taken place. It relies on past occurrences whereby emergency managers are supposed to ensure that such a scenario does not arise again through measures such as transferring the risk to another party so that in the case it occurs again the loss will be catered for (Canton, 2010). However, such a measure does not help to mitigate the risk. The second idea about the adoption of technology is applicable even before the risk has occurred because it mainly involves creating public awareness through social media. When people are regularly reminded of the possible consequences associated with disasters, they will become responsible and take preventive measures (Canton, 2010). For instance, in the case of a terrorist attack, if a questionable person is detected in a given area, people can share this information either among themselves and become cautious or share with security agents so that action can be taken. For the third strategy regarding sociological and demographic changes, it entirely relies on the side of emergency managers who have the obligation of ensuring that they remain updated about such shifts. Similarly, this is a measure that can be taken even before the risk has occurred because they only help to ensure that preventive measures are taken (Canton, 2010). For instance, if people are densely populated in an area that is likely to experience a landslide emergency professionals can advise the public otherwise so that such a risk does not take place. The last idea of giving emergency management a new look may only provide long-term solutions because the current approaches must be assessed and any arising weakness from them is rectified.
Despite the measures that have been taken to enhance emergency management, its future is still engrossed with uncertainty. This is because in most scenarios disasters are inevitable such that they happen without our consent. Nevertheless, if authorities make mitigation a priority, then we can go a long way in emergency response efforts. So far, no administration has hinted on making emergency management a priority, and since disasters are arising now and then, it is a time that we enforce for such measures to be taken. Some of the suggestions which can bring light to the future of emergency management include substituting the aspect with risk management, adopting emerging technology while putting it into practice, being considerate of both demographic and sociological changes, and also giving emergency management a new look.
- Canton, L. (2007). Emergency Management: Concepts and Strategies for Effective Programs. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Publishers.
- Haddow, G., Bullock, J. & Coppola, D. (2010). Introduction to Emergency Management. United Kingdom: Butterworth-Heinemann Publishers.