Emergency Management: Types, Phases and Response Plan

Emergencies are situations that require immediate attention because they have high-risk rates and pose a threat to life and property. These situations if not properly managed can be very hazardous if they’re not attended to immediately and given first stage priority. There are dynamics for managing these emergencies and that is what we will be exploring in this article. And it should be noted that emergency management in this article does not only refer to public incidents, domestic hazards also fall under emergencies alongside accidents, etc. so in the case of any of these emergencies, please contact the help care numbers available in your country.

A Picture of medics attending to an emergency
Medics attending to a medical emergency

WHAT IS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT?

Emergency management is the pulling together and organization of resources for dealing with emergencies, disasters, and hazards dealing with human life, properties, and the environment. emergency management deals with creating ways through which vulnerable communities will be able to cope with disasters and make them strong enough to handle these emergencies without having too much impact on them. It entails properly coordinating all resources to help with all types of emergencies. Emergency management deals with plans and arrangements created by the government to properly respond to extreme emergencies that can harm or kill a lot of people. Examples of emergencies are; floods, epileptic seizures, disease or fire outbreaks, terrorist attacks, etc.

IMPORTANCE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

The primary aims and objectives of emergency management are to reduce casualties from disasters and hazards and to protect communities involved; especially the vulnerable ones. It helps through the formation of plans and structures to prepare for and adequately respond to disasters. It helps in recovery from these disasters whether man-made or natural. These plans are called emergency action plans. Having an emergency action plan helps you avoid the confusion and chaos that comes with emergencies that arise. It helps provide some level of control during emergencies as all parties involved will simply refer to the previously drafted action plan which will show them what to do from there. The emergency action plan makes materials available with necessary equipment and supplies and also basic needs as a relief to parties involved and it will be helping in the recovery from the impact of those disasters. It makes the recovery process from those unfortunate events easier and faster.

Emergency action plans have very important factors which are;

  1. Preparedness: be ready for the worst of these disasters. Have a plan prepared for any situation that may arise. and have a backup plan for your main plan in case that develops hitches. always prepare ahead because emergencies pop by without warning.
  2. Communication: good communication in cases of emergencies is vital and can help limit the extent to which life and properties can get affected or harmed. Always have a good communication system set up with all parties and organizations that will help manage these emergencies.
  3. Good leadership: the success of every operation is dependent on good and prepared leaders for every emergency to control and give out orders on what to do and how to contain the issue at hand.
  4. Harmonize all available resources: make sure all resources that all resources are put together and properly harnessed and are working together during emergencies beforehand so that everyone knows their roles and when and where to come in.
  5. Training: all parties involved should be properly trained on how to handle emergencies even before the situation arises so that when it comes up unexpectedly, everyone is ready and knows what’s expected of them.

Every emergency plan must have an immediate response to emergencies and must have effective and reliable evacuation procedures if necessary.

PHASES OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

The phases of emergency management are also referred to as the actions taken in response to emergencies. When all pertaining total prevention of emergencies fails, then the next best thing to do is to prepare for the management of these emergencies. There are four (4) phases of emergency management (responses to an emergency).

The 4 Phases of Emergency Management

  • Mitigation
  • Preparedness
  • Response
  • Recovery

MITIGATION

Mitigation involves actions taken to reduce the impact of disasters and hazards through some precautionary measures taken before the occurrence of the disaster. there are two classifications of mitigation;

  • structural mitigation
  • Non-structural mitigation
 Structural Mitigation

This has to do with trying to prevent disasters through physical or engineering solutions. Eg, moving of houses, the building of bridges, town planning, etc.

None-structural Mitigation

This comes into play when the engineering solutions get expensive or have not helped in preventing or reducing disaster. Eg, evacuation from affected areas, buying insurance policies, etc.

PREPAREDNESS

This is the state of being fully prepared with everything in place for emergencies by assessing the risk and hazard involved. The components of preparedness in emergencies are;

  • Communication
  • Training of all parties involved
  • Identification of  assets
  • Make standard plans
  •  Proper coordination

RESPONSE

This is what happens during the hazard. This is the phase of contacting emergency services, searching for and rescuing victims, possible evacuation, provision of help, and assessing the damage done. It involves meeting up with the basic needs and necessities of victims, provision of relief materials until a permanent solution is found out. this is the point where it must be ensured that everyone is safe and out of harm’s way. During this period, plans are made toward rebuilding lost and damaged utilities and planning for restoration of damaged infrastructure

RECOVERY

This phase is the period of rebuilding utilities and infrastructures after a disaster to return things to normal. This is the aftermath of the hazard. The period of restoration of every impact of the hazard. At this moment, a certain level of physical, economic, social, and environmental stability should have been achieved due to action taken from the response stage. This phase can last for a duration of six (6) months to a year depending on how serious the event was. An organization will be set up to get new resources, make alliances, or partnerships to help in the recovery.

TYPES OF DISASTERS

Disasters come in different ways as there is no total control of them. There are two (2) types of disasters, they are;

  • Man-made disasters: these are disasters caused by human errors, mistakes, or neglect. whatever disaster is caused by a man-made factor is a man-made disaster. eg, technical hazards that lead to emergencies. There are also hazardous materials that can cause hazards like chemical spillage and contamination. There is also the use of firearms to cause hazards to human life and property. The most common of these, however, is the fire outbreak that can be caused by, electric sparks, negligence of open fires, among others.
  • Natural disasters: these are hazards caused by nature itself and no human or any other factor is responsible for such hazards. these hazards are often unstoppable and unpredictable and most often more uncontrollable than man-made disasters. Hurricanes and tropical storms are the most severe of these natural disasters .earthquakes and tornadoes strike without any warning compared to the others mentioned. Flooding, is the most common of these hazards, however, but can be curtailed if managed properly.

UNDERSTANDING EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

It is important to note that emergency management is a system under the government’s public health and safety part. So, it is majorly the government’s responsibility to ensure that disasters are managed effectively. There are bodies and agencies set up of course for this cause, both national and international. These bodies are set up to bring stability to the affected victims and help manage the impact of the crises on the company. There are emergency councils set up alongside planning committees to help with the situation.

The following are some of the critical tasks that entail;

  • Coming up with an all-encompassing hazard emergency operation plan
  • Assessment of possible hazards, threats, and vulnerability level of community
  • Aid agreements on how the affected communities can be helped after the hazard.

There should be a local emergency planning committee headed by the emergency manager. The goal of this body is to help facilitate emergency preparedness initiatives on a community level. The manager has to be knowledgeable on matters, crisis management, incident analysis, incident management, and logistics.  This committee should include representatives from sectors of public service like the police, fire service, medical service, and emergency service. There should also be representatives from critical infrastructure like schools, hospitals, local media, and public health.

The committee is to be involved in local emergency management activities like;

  • Coordinating and training in outreaches
  • Developing ways to ensure the effectiveness of local aid response
  • Organizing the development of emergency operation plans that can be able to help meet the basic needs of the community.
  • Periodically and strategically renewing and updating the local emergency plan when appropriate and necessary.

A full account of every resource and aid available must be given and recorded and it must be made sure that every planning or recovery effort must be in line with the communities laws and standards on planning, response, and recovery and let all protocols and legal obligations be fully observed and fulfilled.

National bodies are primarily responsible for any emergency management, however, when the national body is unable to tackle the emergency, if the disaster is beyond control, international bodies can step in to intervene. Although the government is responsible for the management of emergencies, citizens and residents also have a role to play. depending on the type of emergency, the people around are expected to immediately contact the agencies responsible for handling such cases. but before the help arrives, there are little things that people can do to help the case at that time.

 WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF EMERGENCIES

  • Remain calm; panicking excessively in emergencies can only worsen the situation. Pull yourself together and try to figure out what to do next.
  • Assess the situation; check the situation and figure out what to do next, depending on the severity of the situation.
  •  Call immediately for medical assistance or backup.

Below is a list suggesting emergency contacts you should have handy for emergencies:

 

  • Your local police department; contact your police in your area for help in case of any emergency you cant handle
  • The hospital; call thee hospital for an ambulance if there’s a health emergency
  • Veterinarian; in emergencies regarding animals, call the vet around you for the next steps to take.
  • Fire service; in the event of any fire outbreak you cant deal with, contact your fire department
  • Poison control; if anyone ingests poison around you through whatever means, call the poison control immediately
  • Power company; in the case where there’s any emergency pertaining to power, call the power company
  • Co-workers; in the event of  an emergency within the work area, call your co-workers for help
  • Kid’s schools; call your children’s school if there’s an emergency that will stop them from attending school or for any school-related emergency.
  • Your boss; in case you’re not able to get to work, call your boss to let him or her know.
  • Your neighbors; call your neighbors if you need help and there’s no one around your house.
  • Family; call your family for help in an emergency.

Do what you can to help; depending on the emergency, find what you can do to help before help arrives

In cases where you’re in a new or different country and you need help, I’ve arranged a list of emergency helplines to countries people travel to often. They’re listed below:

  • Europe-112
  • Hong Kong-999
  • Brazil: Police-190
  • Ambulance-192
  • Fire-193
  • New Zealand-111
  • China: Police-110
  • Ambulance-120
  • Fire-119
  • United States of America (USA)- 911
  • United Kingdom (UK)- 999 or call 55 if its an emergency where you can’t make a noise because it’s dangerous
  • Canada-911
  • Australia-000
  • The Bahamas-919
  • Ghana-112
  • South Africa-10111
  • India-112
  • Israel- Police-100
  • Ambulance-101
  • Fire-102
  • Nigeria- 112

TERRORISM EMERGENCY RESPONSE PLAN

Terrorism is on the rise in the world at large and falls under an emergency. It goes both ways, as a national emergency and international emergency. Terrorism has a very terrible effect on the growth of every community and its after-effect is very severe on victims. Researches should be carried out based on past terrorist attacks and situations to ensure that a reasonable spectrum of initial and boundary conditions are evaluated.

Recent terrorist events have heightened society’s recognition of the need for emergency preparedness. new approaches to emergency planning have to be arranged because terrorist attacks are not as predictable as other disasters such as floods, hurricanes, etc. they can be at any time, moments when you least expect it and can even take place at multiple areas, so, a broad response plan should be prepared to deal with this when the situation arises.

Dealing with the threat of terrorism is a very challenging task not just to the immediate planners but to every party involved in emergency response; from health workers to generally everyone in the system. From past experiences, terrorist attacks can leave very dire effects that take a lot of time and resources to recover from. Terrorist response plans should be broad enough to accommodate all aspects of recovery for children, adults, and the community.

Management of Children as victims of Terrorism

Pediatricians must know how to cope with the aftermath of these events concerning children. Children who have been victims of terrorist attacks need to go through treatments that will help them with the trauma of the incident. to prepare these pediatricians on how to be helpers, educators and advocates, and therapists to these kids.

The response plan should cover some of these areas;

  • Terrorism preparedness
  • Mental health programs and support for the children
  • Public health preparedness
  • Involving families in emergency planning
  • Response plans should include aspects of children recovering from these disasters
  • Hospital preparedness
  • School preparedness

EMERGENCY RESPONSE  WORKERS

Emergency response workers are people saddled with the responsibility of responding immediately to any emergencies. Police, firefighters, paramedics, nurses, doctors, cleanup workers are all examples of emergency response workers.  They are trained and are professionals in their fields and they are the most important aspect of emergency management. They put their lives at stake for others and go into very dangerous and hazardous conditions and they need to be protected from the conditions that these hazards can create whether natural or man-made.

A plan should be put in place to monitor the health and of these responders to ensure their safety. The aftermath of their service during the emergency can be bad for them depending on the type of emergency. For instance, a firefighter is exposed to smoke in the cause of responding to a fire emergency or disaster; the smoke he or she is exposed to can cause a lung disease for the person if not properly taken care of after the emergency.  So, the health of these workers should be a priority because they go into extreme conditions just to stop these hazards. In emergency management, they are the most important aspect of it because they are the ones who will help control the hazard.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, health workers went through a lot and put in a lot of work just to ensure the safety of the people. Some even contacted the virus while doing so, they worked round the clock and had to stay away from their families from fear of the virus spreading. A lifeguard goes into dangerous water to save and rescue a drowning person. The lifeguard’s chances of surviving are fifty-fifty. A police officer has to go head-on with criminals and put his or her life in danger.

In essence, these people make a lot of sacrifices just to make sure that other people are out of danger. So, it is only fair that these people should be taken care of with their family and their well-being should be prioritized. some make it through these hazards, some don’t, so the families of those who lost their lives should be taken care of by the government. This should be part of plans for the health workers.

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE

After an emergency, the environment in which the hazard took place needs to be properly taken care of and cleaned up after that event to reduce the vulnerability of the victims of this emergency. If this environment is not properly taken care of, the residents can be prone to health issues due to the poor hygiene of the environment. Environmental health measures are taken to in the emergency response phase to reduce the loss of life and to protect the health of these residents. Environmental health priorities like food, health care, sanitary facilities, health surveillance, water supplies should be taken care of. And in case of an outbreak of a communicable disease, strict measures should be taken to curb it.

EMPOWERMENT AFTER EMERGENCY

Emergencies can take a toll on their victims. Depending on the type of disaster, the aftermath of emergencies is not easy on its victims. Some people lose everything from their house to their means of livelihood and sometimes even their loved ones. Empowerment of hazard victims after the disaster is very important, whether physical or emotional, empowerment cannot be over-emphasized for these victims.

Regarding emotional empowerment, the victims need some form of therapy to help them get through the effects of the hazard and move past the trauma. Therapy is a way of empowering these people emotionally, creating support groups is also another means of emotional rehabilitation for these people involved in these hazards. These efforts help put these people back on their feet.

Physical empowerment deals with helping these people get back on their feet financially, helping them find more permanent solutions for themselves and their families. This can be achieved by giving the victims loans and grants to help their start-up businesses and also find other means of livelihood to support themselves and eradicate poverty from the midst of these victims and help them live a normal life again.

Another type of physical empowerment is health-wise rehabilitation.  Some of the victims sustained injuries on all levels, some severe and some not so severe. Some even lose body parts as a result of the disaster. There should be health plans in place to help these people’s health properly and to be nursed back to health care. There should be the provision of facilities that will help them try to live normal lives, for example, there should be wheelchairs or crutches provided for people who lost limbs or are unable to walk.

Some of these victims are unable to work and fend for themselves temporarily while they are recovering. They should be put on a financial aid program of some sort to help them support themselves until they are well and able to work. Some do not recover completely and are still unable to work as the impact of the disaster caused permanent damage to the individual. So, they should also be placed on financial support by the government to help them pay their bills, take care of themselves and their families if any.

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