Emergency Management Response

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1)    Who are the 1st responders? What are their responsibilities?

The first responders in the Central City flooding scenario comprise of rescue units, emergency response services units, and other professionals who include paramedics, firefighters, etc. The first responders in any emergency situation play crucial roles in saving lives as well as stabilizing the emergency before the arrival of the technical rescue units. One of the core responsibilities of first responders is the recognition of characteristics of the call; identify the type and level of specialist response required for the particular emergency. The first responders also ensure the safety of victims and the public by cordoning off the hazard zone, as well as ensuring their safety by minimizing their risk of exposure to the hazard. Another role of first responders is the collection of adequate information about the scenario, mass casualty numbers and the type of assistance required (Bullock, Haddow & Coppola, 2012: Homeland Security). This information gets provided to the technical rescue team when they arrive. The first responders also establish communications with incoming mutual aid units. It is their responsibility to act as liaisons with other types of response professionals and agencies that include fire departments, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, aeromedical EMS agencies, EMS agencies and hospitals. First responders have the responsibility also to protect critical infrastructure as well as protect property and environment.  First responders also set up support resources before the arrival of the rescue team.

2)    What will be their biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge in the Central City scenario is the lack of access to the affected areas due to lack of transportation, rising floodwaters, as well as the destruction of critical transport infrastructures such as roads and bridges. The lack of access to critical incident areas means that the first responders cannot undertake their roles such as providing the much needed medical services. The first responders also will find it difficult to rescue the low-income community situated along the river’s edge that has got isolated from the rest of the city by the floods. The first responders are at risk of been swept by the floods if they use inappropriate methods of accessing the affected areas or even lack proper equipment.

3)    What will is an immediate concern and what can wait?

Various emergency response actions must take place to prevent loss of lives, protect against destruction of property and critical infrastructure, prevent elevation of the emergency as well as prevent the reoccurrence of the catastrophe. The response actions get classified into immediate response actions and later response actions.

Immediate Response Actions

  1. Prevent the loss of lives
  2. Provide emergency medical services and specialized care to the casualties of the incident.
  3. Evacuate and rescue of isolated residents of the affected area and buildings such as the people in the senior assisted living facility and the low-income community.
  4. Meet the basic human needs that are food, shelter and clothing of the victims and the displaced people. A shelter may get provided by offering temporary housing in higher grounds.
  5. Establishment of an incident command system to undertake the emergency response operations as well as coordinate the actions of various federal, state and local government agencies, fire departments and law enforcement officers.
  6. Ensure safety as well as the security of the public and responders.
  7. The fire department should put off the fires that can be seen burning in a distance as well as suppress emerging fires to prevent further property destruction.
  8. Provide medical supplies for water-borne diseases due to contamination and lack of clean water as well as prepare the response.
  9. Ensure safety of personnel and public by raising downed electrical lines.
  10. Prevent looting and theft of businesses and homes and protect critical infrastructure and the environment.
  11. Driving away animals from the flooded area
  12. Moving critical businesses and organizations to temporary buildings

Later Response Actions

  1. Attempt to salvage the items and goods from buildings and businesses after floods subside.
  2. Reconstruction and repair of critical infrastructure that includes roads, bridges, storm and sewer drain, electrical lines, as well as database systems and communication networks in businesses.
  3. Undertake mitigation measures that include construction of both structural and non-structural measures. Structural measures include expansion of flood channels, construction of dams, reservoirs, flood levees and evacuation shelters. Non-structural measures such as taking insurance cover for businesses
  4. Farmers and businesses take loans and grants to reconstruct businesses and farms.

4)    What additional types of assistance (other than initial 1st responders) would be helpful here? How would they be used?

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA is a department in the Homeland Security that undertakes actions related to preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery in the incident of a catastrophe. The mission of the Agency is to offer assistance to help citizens and first responders to ensure that the United States build, sustain and enhance their ability to prepare for, safeguard against, recover from and also mitigate all natural and man-made hazards. FEMA undertakes different responsibilities namely:

  • Providing the federal’s government response to major catastrophes
  • Assisting the recovery of the normal operations after disruption by a terrorist activity and major disasters
  • FEMA collaborate its efforts with federal and nonfederal agencies to build an extensive national incident management system.
  • FEMA consolidate the existing federal government emergency response plans into a single, coordinated national response plan.
  • Helping to ensure the preparedness and training of emergency response providers for major disasters and emergencies (Bullock, Haddow & Coppola, 2012: Introduction to Homeland Security)

National Disaster Medical system (NDMS)

NDMS is responsible for the management and coordination of the federal and medical response to major emergencies. It comprises of more than 8, 000 volunteer medical practitioners and support personnel organized into disaster assistance teams. The teams include Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT), Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT), Veterinary Medical Assistance Team (VMAT), National Pharmacy Response Team (NPRT), National Nurse Response Team (NNRT) and Federal Coordinating Centers (FCCs).

Funding from Federal and State governments and public and private agencies

The victims also require financial aid from all sources since they have lost most of their property in the floods. Homeowners require the money to rebuild their houses, farmers have lost their farm produce and had to prepare the farms again, and businesses need financial assistance to recover their businesses.

Urban Search and Rescue Team

The Urban Search and Rescue will locate and rescue people trapped in different places in the emergency region.

5)    Does the fact that other Columbia County cities are also flooded and experiencing similar problems affect Columbia County’s capabilities to respond? What problems do you foresee? What are some solutions?

Yes, the flooding of the Columbia County cities affects the response to the Central City scenario. Flooding in the cities hinders the quick and easy access to emergency responders who include paramedics, firefighters, law enforcement agencies, and the rescue team. The floods may also even destroy critical transport infrastructures such as bridges hence cutting out access Central city from other places. This problem can get solved by providing access through other means such as air for evacuation and rescue as well as transport of responders. Another significant problem of flooding other Columbia cities is that the waters of Central City will not subside easily since they cannot flow to those cities. The solution to the problem is an expansion of water channels.

6)    How would you classify this incident? Is it a high likelihood-low impact or a low likelihood high impact? Explain?

The Central City scenario can get classified as a low likelihood high impact scenario. The probability of occurrence of the incident in the area is unlikely meaning that its chance of occurrence is 2-5 percent over a period of 20 to 50 years. The people in the area had not prepared for such a scenario implying that it had not occurred before. The scenario is a high impact incident since it results in numerous adverse consequences ranging from mass displacement of people to destruction of property to a lot of funds and resources required in the response to the emergency. There is also a huge disruption of the economy due to loss of many working hours. The Department of Homeland Security classifies incident risks as according to the product of the asset value, threat rating and vulnerability rating (Nemeth, 2013).

7)    Using the Incident Command System (ICS), decide what type of command structure will be employed. Who will be part of your command structure?

ICS refers to a standardized on-scene incident management concept designed particularly to enable emergency responders to adopt an integrated organizational structure. There are five major management systems within the ICS namely command, operations, planning, logistics, and finance.

Command: The command section involves developing, directing and maintaining communication and collaboration with the various agencies on site and also working with local officials, the public, and the media to keep them informed concerning the incident.

Operations: The operations section deals with tactical operations, coordinates the command objectives, develops tactical operations and organizes and directs all resources to the disaster site.

Planning: The planning unit gives the necessary information to the command center to formulate the action plan so as to achieve the designed objectives.

Logistics: The logistics unit is responsible for providing personnel, equipment, and support for the command center.

Finance: The finance unit accounts for all the funds used during the emergency response and recovery.

Incident Command system structure: Source Sahlin (2015)

Unified Command (UC)

The most suitable type of command is the UC, since the emergency response has more than one agency with incident jurisdiction or when the events occur across several political jurisdictions. UC allows agencies with different legal, geographic and functional authorities and responsibilities to coordinate their efforts effectively without affecting individual agency, responsibility or accountability (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2013).

8)    What two circumstances may turn this event from an emergency to a disaster and what are your options once that happens?

The emergency may turn into a crisis if there is land subsidence and building start collapsing and trapping people in the structure debris. The scenario would lead to increased loss of lives and mass casualties. When this scenario occurs the appropriate action is evacuating people from all neighboring structures and increasing staff for rescue as well as availing appropriate equipment for rescue.

Another scenario that can get describe a disaster that can occur is the emergence of waterborne diseases due to lack of clean water supply and also the lack of food due to the destruction of farms and sources of income. The federal, state and local governments should offer financial aid as well as meet the basic needs of the people in the area. The government should also adequate medical supplies, personnel, and centers to deal with any disease outbreak.

9)    What type of assistance can you expect from the state? Describe the process for requesting state / federal assistance.

Type of federal assistance:

  • Identification and mobilization of staff including professionals to fulfill their departmental or agency responsibilities in emergencies.
  • Select staff who include the FBI’s Joint Operations Center to get deployed to the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) and FEMA Regional Response Coordination Centers (RRCC) or other operations that get required.
  • Undertake prescripted mission assignments and readiness contracts as directed by the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Leads in recovery programs that include identifying needs and resources providing shelter and promoting restoration, facilitating community restoration, give care and treatment to affected persons and incorporate mitigation measures and techniques.

Presidential Major Catastrophe Declaration Process Guidelines:

  • The Governor of the affected state makes a request to the president for a declaration of a major disaster and federal assistance.
  • Contact gets made between the Governor of the affected State or territory and the FEMA Regional Administrator before or immediately following the disaster.
  • State and Federal officials undertake a preliminary damage assessment (PDA) to approximate the extent of the disaster and its effect on persons and public facilities. Normally this information that shows the severity and magnitude of the hazard that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and local governments and that federal aid are required gets included in the Governor’s request. However, when obviously catastrophic incidents take place, the Governor makes the request without the PDA. The Governor’s request also contains information such as the nature and amount of state and local resources committed to handling the disaster, the impact on the private and public sector, and an estimate of the type and amount of aid required under the Stafford Act.
  • The Governor’s request get’s made through the FEMA Regional Administrator and identifies the affected the states. The Governor must undertake appropriate action under State law and direct execution of the State’s emergency plan.
  • The FEMA Regional Administrator then evaluates the damage and requirements for Federal Assistance contained in the request, then make a recommendation to the FEMA administrator.
  • The FEMA Administrator, who acts through the Secretary of Homeland Security, then recommends a course of action to the President.
  • Based on the Governor’s request, the president declares a major hazard, consequently activating the National Response Framework and availing various Federal programs to help in the response and recovery efforts (Oliver, Marion & Hill, 2014). The Governor of the state, affected Members of Congress and Federal departments and agencies immediately get a notification of the Presidential declaration.

10)    Once the floodwaters recede and the conditions return to normal, city council members will be looking for suggestions to avoid this type of disaster in the future. What mitigation recommendations can you make?

Various flood measures and technologies that are necessary for the Central City scenario to mitigate the impact of future floods get recommended to the city council members. They are:

  1. The use of intensive and extensive structural measures. Intensive flood control measures include levees and dikes, water storage, increase channel flood capacity, and floodplain folders and platforms, and extensive flood measures include soil conservation, flow delay, increase infiltration and reshaping of the land surface such as introducing plant cover (Rossi, Harmanciogammalu & Yevjevich, 2012).
    1. The use of non-structural measures. These measures comprise of three groups namely defense, regulation and flood insurance. Regulation uses law, statute, agreement and other regulation approaches to determine how people should use the flood prone area. Flood insurance entails wider distribution of flood risk such as governmental disaster assistance and pure private insurance. Flood defense measures comprise of flood forecast, warning, evacuation and physical defense.
    2. Do-nothing except learning how to live with them wisely. It is a state-of-the-art in which people leaving Central City area do nothing in coping with the floods except by only reducing the negative and maximizing the positive aspects. They include implementing proper flood warning measures s that people can evacuate before the floods.

References

Bullock, J., Haddow, G., & Coppola, D. P. (2012): Homeland Security: The Essentials. Butterworth-Heinemann.

Bullock, J., Haddow, G., & Coppola, D. P. (2012): Introduction to Homeland Security. Elsevier.

Haddow, G., Bullock, J., & Coppola, D. P. (2013): Introduction to emergency management. Butterworth-Heinemann.

Nemeth, C. P. (2013): Homeland security: an introduction to principles and practice. CRC Press.

Oliver, W. M., Marion, N. E., & Hill, J. B. (2014): Introduction to Homeland Security. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Rossi, G., Harmanciogammalu, N. B., & Yevjevich, V. (Eds.). (2012): Coping with floods (Vol. 257). Springer Science & Business Media.

Sahlin, J. P. (2015): Social Media and the Transformation of Interaction in Society: Advances in Social Networking and Online Communities: IGI Global



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