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Disaster Emergency

Mass-Casualty Incident Management: Non-Clinical Issues


Modern technologies in communications play a critical role in offering the means for spreading and dissemination of the disaster-associated information (Goldschmitt & Bonvino, 2009). Using efficient and robust communications in any emergency or in promoting the awareness and preparedness can present the community with the essential advanced knowledge precaution to take the preventive action. Additionally, despite the required consistency in the application of these technologies, they must not be allowed to preclude the local framework of warnings (Goldschmitt & Bonvino, 2009). On their own, not matter how complex or expensive they are, communication systems would be useless without education. A combined tactic involving indigenous and new technologies with the extensive education on the possible dangers and the risks encountered can offer an end-to-end framework for the emergency communications (Goldschmitt & Bonvino, 2009). Therefore, an evaluation of such a domain of non-clinical management of mass casualty incidents as communication is necessary.

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All of the events involving the disaster emergencies and crises are typically chaotic and substantially dynamic generating emotional, physical, and social agitations (Goldschmitt & Bonvino, 2009). Communication is usually crucial in such emergencies and crises in all phases of disaster management. During the emergencies, the communications involve a wide array of methods to control the dangers that can be encountered by the community as well as the environment (Goldschmitt & Bonvino, 2009). Different sources, including the satellites, telecommunication, radar, remote sensing telemetry, and meteorology, play a central in the early warning about the potential disasters.

The division of the Disaster Emergency communication develops, maintains, and organizes efficient tragedy emergency communications services as well as the information system essential to FEMAs function in controlling the response, continuity in the effort, and restoration of critical services of the Federal Government (Goldschmitt & Bonvino, 2009).

People who stay in touch with each other are always safe; thus, they require communication so that they stayed in touch (Goldschmitt & Bonvino, 2009). Therefore, it is obvious that communication forms an integral part of human life. The capability of communicating or receiving advanced information on the dangers and risks has been shown to reduce the severe effects associated with these hazards (Goldschmitt & Bonvino, 2009). The efficient early warning and systemic evacuation enable individuals as well as the community to respond appropriately to the threats to minimize the risk of injuries, death, and loss and destruction of the property. The warning communication message must inform about what is happening, what is relevant to that person, and the action that person can take (Goldschmitt & Bonvino, 2009). The message should be conveyed in a simple, clear language sent with sufficient lead-time so that the recipient had enough time for any necessary action.

Multiple communication strategies are needed by the communities to make sure that the warning information is received from all government structure levels. An early information mechanism allows the delivery of time-to-time warnings or the associated information via a stable communication system (Goldschmitt & Bonvino, 2009). Recent calamities once again have forced the government to review the established communication systems, especially regarding contingency planning. No single system can serve all the situations, and a strong public warning mechanism must apply several information dissemination/communication channels as much as possible (Lizzi, Azaro, Oliveri, & Massa, 2012). The optimum application of all available channels of telecommunication is inseparable from the efficient disaster preparedness. Two methods are frequently used in the effective warning dissemination (Lizzi et al., 2012). They include mass notification and addressable notification methods. Mass notification methods do not address a particular individual, but the message or alert is aimed at everyone regardless of their level. They include outdoor mechanisms such as sirens, loud speakers, and mass broadcasting systems that include television, radio, cable TV, and low power radio (Lizzi et al., 2012). On the other hand, addressable methods are designed in such a way that they target their messages and alerts at the individuals at risk or at the particular people such as responders. They include broadcasting systems such as provincial radio broadcasting, VHF/HF radios, microphones, and weather radio (Lizzi et al., 2012). Telecommunication systems include fax, telephone messages, and the internet. The other addressable method is interpersonal communication that involves door-to-door or residential route warning.

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A fast and accurate exchange of information is crucial during the response phase of the disaster (Moynihan, 2007). The increase in the complexity of organizational structures, as well as the allocation of the duties in response period among the stakeholders, moves hand in hand with accessible communication links. Public networks, including mobile telephone systems and the landline phones, form the foundation of the first responders (Moynihan, 2007). With the participation of the partners within the immediate vicinity of the tragedy, responsibilities and, therefore, communication necessities turn change to a larger dimension. In these unpredictable scenarios, decision-making becomes a process comprising multiple institutions (Moynihan, 2007). Organizations such as FEMA and DHS must coordinate effectively with the federal, local, and state government to respond to the disaster. For instance, a breakdown in communication between the state of Louisiana and FEMA during Hurricane Katrina led to increased destruction of the property and loss of lives that could have been salvaged if communication was effective (Moynihan, 2007). In such circumstances, non-governmental networks, including radio networks such as satellite links, are required to close the information gaps and boost the exchange of information. Contingency programs between the operators and the providers of telecommunication services will profoundly improve the safety of individuals and overcoming a disaster (Moynihan, 2007). However, there is some concern as most of the telecommunication mechanisms cannot cope with all the traffic created during the emergency period or situations with a higher number of casualties. Although most designers put into consideration what might be the highest load on a busy day, traffic normally increases threefold or even fourfold as compared to a typical busy working day (Moynihan, 2007). Therefore, it is fundamental that systems behavior during tight overload circumstances to be studied. In some instances, such systems as public switch might respond to the overload event by relaying a signal to the other switches surrounding it by alerting them that incoming pathways to the switch are not functional at that particular time (Moynihan, 2007). In such a case, it is possible to contact any subscriber on that particular switch from outside, and it will be possible for any user of that switch to make calls to the outside environment. Therefore, designers in disaster management must reflect this when formulating the flow of information inside the organization and with the outside environment.

Hampton Roads Public Safety and Emergency agencies have worked in cooperation to come up with resilient communities and strengthen the USAs ability to deal with both man-made and natural disaster (Lizzi et al., 2012). A substantial number of these efforts were created after some tragedy, for instance, following the 2001 attack on Pentagon. Thus, under Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, Federal money has been used to generate preparation and response initiatives focusing on the entire community to build interoperability capacities and communications. Funds help buy a communication facility that is typically distributed in various areas and that depends on the vulnerability of different sectors (Lizzi et al., 2012). I think that the concept of communication, as presented by Goldschmitt and Bovinco, is comprehensive. However, HRPDC efforts cannot be overlooked because with the absence of funds, the communication strategies proposed by Goldschmitt and Bovinco would not be possible (Lizzi et al., 2012). Therefore, the two aspects can complement each for the effective communication during emergencies.

Communication, as discussed above, is the most crucial part in all phases of disaster management, but the efforts to reinforce the communication are not as intense as one would think. Can communication systems be improved further significantly to reduce the property loss and loss of lives?


Governmental Funding

Natural or manmade disasters usually lead to the destruction of property, such as buildings both business and residential, the destruction of the transportation and communication systems among other forms of damages (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2013). As stated in the constitution all levels of government, local state and federal must provide the resources to fund the restoration of a destroyed structure to the pre-disaster conditions. However, the owner of the property may also apply for other funds to supplement the Federal government funds during the restoration process (Haddow, Bullock & Coppola, 2013). The paper will provide the information on state and federal level funding that is accessible during the recovery phase.

Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA)

Once the US President announces a state of emergency concerning any disaster be it manmade or natural, a state qualifies for both FEMA and Public Assistance (PA) cost sharing funds (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2013). States usually have a tragedy emergency fund used in financing the recovery process as well to match the dollars offered by FEMA as required by various programs. The amount of each grant depends on the state, whereas the states with more vulnerable occurrences of disaster receive the increased funding (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2013). In most cases, if the money allocated for recovery process in a given state is not enough, the governor of that state has the power to allocate more funding to aid in the recovery process.

In some states, the funding sources of the state end up in the hands of the Disaster Emergency Fund that, in the case of disaster, allocates the funds to the relevant parties to affect the recovery process. Conversely, some states might have additional recovery funding from various departments of the state for particular types of projects (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2013). For instance, as indicated in Minnesota Statutes, the department of transport should administer funds to assist in disaster recovery mostly in restoring roads and streets to their original conditions (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2013).

State and local link programs. Through these programs, state and local authorities together with special districts can fund public projects via borrowing finances from businesses, particularly in their jurisdiction locality (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2013). These types of issues are not taxed by either state or federal income taxes as long as they do not offer a benefit of more than 10% to the private parties (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2013). In other words, they are less popular means to restore the projects that do not qualify for FEMA/PA funding. The issues also do not need presidential declaration.

Federal government funding. Stanford Act provides federal funding systems that must offer funds to assist the local and state as well as the tribal authorities after the declaration of emergency by the President (McEntire, 2014). The Stanford Act states that financial assistance from FEMA is coordinated in the form of Individual Assistance (IA) and public assistance (PA) initiatives (McEntire, 2014).

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Public assistance grant programs. Through funding by FEMA, DHS, and PA, this grant program provides the assistance to the tribal, local, and state authorities and specific private nonprofit institutions to enable them to respond to, as well as recover from, severe tragedies or emergencies after the presidential declaration (McEntire, 2014). The grantees of FEMA funds are given supplemental grant assistance from the federal government to help in debris removal, repair, restoration or replacement of disaster-destroyed facilities, emergency protective methods, public facilities and facilities that qualify a private nonprofit organization to get funds from FEMA (McEntire, 2014).

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). FEMA offers grants to the local and state governments to establish and implement long-lasting disaster mitigation measures before and after the declaration of the serious tragedy via the HMPG (McEntire, 2014). The goal of this program is to minimize the number of deaths and the loss of property as the result of natural calamities and empower mitigation steps to be executed immediately after the recovery from disaster, having a mission to minimize or eradicate the future threats of natural hazards (McEntire, 2014). To get a grant under this program, all projects should provide a sustainable answer to a particular risk. For example, retrofitting bridges to withstand strong winds, floods, or earthquakes is one of the methods to reduce destruction from the future tragedies (McEntire, 2014). Such a plan may qualify to get this grant.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The department is under FEMA and it provides flexible CDBG Disaster Recovery funds to help counties, cities, states, insular areas, and Indian tribes to recover from the disasters declared by the President as a national catastrophe (FEMA, 2011). The finances under this program are directed by law and they typically consider recovery needs of a particular disaster that are not catered for by the other federal programs on the assistance in the recovery process (FEMA, 2011). CDBG statute states that grants intended for the recovery of the disaster must be used for the long-term needs such as rehabilitation of commercial and residential buildings, home ownership grants such as grant subsidies and down payment assistance. The distribution of finances as well as submission of action plans requirements for recovery from the disaster are well illustrated in the Federal Register, depending on particular supplemental appropriations clauses (FEMA, 2011).

Small Business Administration (SBA). Irrespective of the size of the corporate or private organization, nonprofit institutions destroyed in a calamity may qualify for the funding from the Small Business Administration once the President declares a disaster (FEMA, 2011). The physical and economic injuries loans are made accessible to the businesses as well as nonprofit corporates after any damaging catastrophe (FEMA, 2011). The physical loans assist in repairing the business buildings or replace inventories, machinery, real estate, and the equipment destroyed during a disaster. Conversely, economic injury loans are termed as working finance loans designed to assist small business and institutions needing the ordinary and necessary funding obligations that could not be M=met. As the result of the influence of the disaster, economic injury loans are offered only to the entities that are unable to cater for their recovery from the nongovernmental fund (FEMA, 2011). When both economic and physical injury loans are combined, they add up to a limited loan of $2 million.

Nonetheless, disaster will always occur, and recovery will be needed. Is the question recovery the most neglected phase of the catastrophe?

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