Though disasters can occur without notice, developing effective disaster preparedness through effective mitigation, response and recovery processes is critical in control of disasters, thus allowing for lives to be saved and critical infrastructures to be restored.
Disasters occur in many forms and magnitudes, with varying effects on people, animals, environment and physical structures. In the modern world, where the effects of climate change and terrorist attacks are on the rise, disasters are inevitable. We live in a world where hurricanes can occur, fire breakouts, severe droughts could affect people and terrorists can attack innocent people, causing massive losses that could take many years to repair. Disasters can lead to destruction of personal property, massive displacement of people and destruction of critical infrastructures such as hospitals and telecommunication lines. However, with proper disaster preparedness, the impact of disasters, whether natural or human inflicted can be reduced.
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Although disasters strike without any notice, this should and cannot be taken as an excuse. The increased technological advancement and the increased awareness regarding the impact of these disasters have altered the way governments and the public prepare for adverse effects of their occurrence. Many people can now be relocated early enough before a volcano erupts or before a hurricane occurs thanks to technology. New and advanced technological equipment have enabled governments to detect early signs that could predict an occurrence of a natural disaster like a volcanic eruption or hurricanes.
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However, technological advancement may not help in predicting the occurrence of disasters such as terrorist attacks. Terrorist attacks are done by humans who have the knowledge of the security procedures in place and any attacks would be done with the efforts to avoid any detection. Terrorist attacks of massive scales such as the September 11, 2001 attacks in Washington, could lead to massive loss of lives and loss of economic wellbeing for the affected families. Though the government have mechanisms in place to protect the people, an occurrence of a terrorist attack requires a coordinated response to help in managing the impact that such a disaster could have on the people.
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The development of good coordinated response is a prerequisite in disaster preparedness. This involves the mitigation, response and the recovery processes. The process of mitigation involves putting in place the necessary procedures and policies that would ensure that the possibility of a disaster striking is minimized. In the case of natural disasters such as floods and mudslides, dikes could be built or walls erected so that in the event that floods and mudslides occur, the people and structure would be safe from destruction. The non-structural initiatives that could be employed in disaster mitigation include strong and effective immigration procedures that would ensure that entry into a country is checked. This will help in controlling terrorist entry into the country.
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Sometimes the procedures and policies and other initiatives put in place may fail to prevent the occurrence of a disaster. In such a situation the disaster would occur and a response would be inevitable to avert more serious adverse events. The disaster response entails all the actions performed in order to help control and completely remove the effects of a disaster. The disaster response can include such actions as the presence of ambulance to assist the injured, the presence of people with machinery such as excavators for moving boulders and removing barriers to increase accessibility. In disaster response, there is also the need to involve other secondary agencies such as disaster rescue teams, the Red Cross and Red Crescent for specialized response. This process needs to be a coordinated one with necessary actions and necessities to ensure that favorable effects are achieved.
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It should be noted that the response process is often targeted at mitigating the impacts of a disaster. However, the occurrence of a disaster may cause impacts that would require reconstruction and recovery. For example, there may be need to do reconstruction of critical infrastructures such as electricity lines, hospitals and piped water system. The main objective of the recovery process is to restore normalcy through the repair of the important structures to ensure people resume their normal activities. Also, there is need for planning and investigation. There is often need to carry out investigations to determine the events that led to certain event and possible ways of correcting such future occurrences. This will involve examining also the impacts that were felt and to develop future disaster response and recovery strategies.
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Although disasters can be prevented, sometimes they can exceed human efforts causing a lot of destruction. Developing effective disaster preparedness is critical in the prevention of loss of lives and property. Disaster preparedness must involve mitigation strategies, response and the recovery process. The population must always be trained on disaster preparedness since disaster strikes on unprepared populations could lead to massive loss of property and lives.
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