Disaster preparedness refers to the measures that are carried out to prepare for and reduce the effects of disasters. The process entails predicting and where possible preventing disasters, mitigating their impacts on vulnerable populations, and responding to disasters, as well as, effectively dealing with the consequences. Disaster preparedness offers an opportunity to design effective, realistic, and well-coordinated plans that ensure minimal duplication of efforts and improved response efforts. The activities included in disaster preparedness can prevent disaster scenarios thereby leading to saving more lives and livelihood in a disaster situation and facilitate normalcy in the shortest time possible. Disaster preparedness should operate as a continuous and integrated process that results from an extensive range of risk reduction activities and resources as opposed to using distinct sectoral activity by itself. Among the issues covered in disaster preparedness include, training and logistics, healthcare, recovery, and institutional development. Among the disasters that the country emergency departments prepare for include, flooding, wildfires, and active mass shooting.
Wildfires are a prevalent disaster that has the capacity to spread quickly, especially in dry and windy conditions. Wildfires involve uncontrolled burning on grasslands, bush, or woodlands, and often lead to loss of life, property, and ecosystems. Wildfires may be categorized into three major categories, which include surface fire, ground fire, and crown fire. Surface fire is known to burn along the floor of the forest, is slow, and has detrimental effects on the trees. Ground fire begins by lighting and burns on or below the forest floor. A crown fire is known to be spread more rapidly by wind and moves faster jumping along the tops of trees. Preparedness for wildfires requires the development of an evacuation plan before the occurrence of a wildfire disaster as a means of reducing confusion and preventing injuries. The evacuation plan is comprised of a situation under which the plan will be activated, the chain of command to follow, as well as, emergency functions and people tasked with each specific evacuation practices such as exits routes and plans. Additionally, the plan includes steps required to account for personnel, customers, and visitors, equipment required by the emergency personnel, and review of the plan with the personnel. The management of wildfire risk begins with an assessment of the likelihood of a wildfire event and establishing the susceptibility of highly valued resources and assets to wildfire (Calkin, Cohen, Finney, & Thompson, 2014).
Floods is another disaster that is prevalent in the county. Red Cross indicates that floods are the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Floods are caused by a hurricane, thawing snow, and extended and sustained rain. The county emergency disaster preparedness is aligned with the guidelines provided by FEMA. Floods are known to take place during any season although sometimes of the years have higher risks. The physical destruction resulting from floods are varied depending on factors such as speed and level of water, duration of flood, terrain and soil conditions, and the human structures around such as buildings, roads, and bridges. In disaster preparedness, the county emergency department relies on an integrated flood management where various strategies are used to deal with flood risk. The integrated flood management seeks to maximize net benefits from floodplains and reduce loss to life and livelihoods from flooding. The county emergency plan is aligned with the basin-wide flood management planning. Flood emergency management is essential in the overall flood management. It is divided into three stages first, preparedness, which entails pre-flood measures to facilitate effective response, second, response comprised of measures to reduce adverse impacts during flooding, and third, a recovery that consists of steps carried out to assist the affected community to rebuild itself. Flood emergency preparedness involves issuing of timely and effective warnings and the temporary evacuation of individuals and property from the identified risky areas. The emergency departments are actively involved in the flood emergency response and are concerned with the implementation of pre-planned activities from flooding. Among the tasks involved in this include protecting critical infrastructures, rapid needs assessment to establish the needs of the affected communities, evacuating the population in high-risk areas, activating local search and rescue teams, and initiating steps to repair and restore damaged infrastructure, as well as, creating safe shelters (Gilissen, Alexander, Matczak, Pettersson, & Bruzzone, 2016).
An active shooter is defined as a person who is engaged in killing or attempts to kill people in public facility. These events are largely unpredictable and evolve very quickly. In developing the preparedness plan, the Department of Homeland Security indicates that every individual can play an integral role in minimizing the impacts of an active shooter. An important strategy the county emergency plan advocates for is known as run-hide-fight that aims at decreasing the morbidity and mortality rates in an active shooter incident (Veenema, 2018).
A review in the disaster preparedness for the floods, wildfires, and active shooter reveal that preparedness should be a thoroughly thought process comprised of continuing sequences of analysis, plan development, and the acquisition of required performance skills. These skills are acquired through training, exercises, and critique. Emergency management services vary between communities. It is important to have an effective plan and to carry out an assessment of potential risks to the community. It is also important to understand the resources of the community and the way they can be effective in assisting the emergency response plan.
Calkin, D. E., Cohen, J. D., Finney, M. A., & Thompson, M. P. (2014). How risk management can prevent future wildfire disasters in the wildland-urban interface. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(2), 746-751.
Gilissen, H. K., Alexander, M., Matczak, P., Pettersson, M., & Bruzzone, S. (2016). A framework for evaluating the effectiveness of flood emergency management systems in Europe. Ecology and Society, 21(4).
Veenema, T. G. (Ed.). (2018). Disaster nursing and emergency preparedness. Springer Publishing Company.
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