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By definition, emergency management is a process where the first responders take efforts to avoid and respond to catastrophes. In some countries, such as the United States, the practice is decentralized and contextualized in nature. Various entities, such as governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private sectors, are involved in this process (Fogli & Guida, 2013). In many occasions, emergency management starts locally, although the federal government plays a central role upon the request of the state. According to Smith (2013), the number of responders involved in interventions varies depending on the rigorousness of the event. In addition, the first responders in charge of emergency issues are found in vast sectors of governmental agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (Galindo & Battaa, 2013). In these departments, they ensure that they attend to emergency issues within the right time to protect the lives of victims, return them to normal living conditions, and to prevent casualties in case of a disaster. Therefore, it is necessary to cover the four dimensions of the continuum of interventions for first responders that include mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery because provide guidelines on how to approach major emergencies like disasters, earthquakes, and fires.
Emergency management was instituted in 1979 with the establishment of the FEMA (Regehr & Bober, 2005). It aimed at providing emergency services to the population affected by both natural and human-made disasters, such as earthquakes, accidents, floods, fires, crimes, droughts, and other calamities (Smith, 2013). Therefore, the purpose is to review the literature on the emergency management field to identify significant components of emergency operations and plans. It provides weighty criteria and plans that the first responders can apply to develop, implement, assess, and maintain for mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery from disasters (Regehr & Bober, 2005). These dimensions make a constant planning cycle and actions that the Department of Emergency Management takes.
According to the research, mitigation is the first intervention dimension that the first responders use to manage a disaster. Fogli and Guida (2013) refer to it as a mechanism used to lower the chance of an emergency or reduce damaging impacts of certain disasters. According to their report, the mitigation process is achieved through a risk analysis that provides information about the establishment of building codes, identification and routing requirements for the movement of hazardous materials, as well as land use and zoning standards (Galindo & Battaa, 2013). All activities carried out during the mitigation process target the removal or minimization of adverse impacts of the disaster.
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Practically, in the case of a natural calamity, say a flood, the mitigation stage needs to determine preventive techniques that can lower or postpone adverse effects that can be brought by the disaster. In this case, it is important to establish shelters and dikes, as well as develop plans for evacuation and zoning regulation (Regehr & Bober, 2005). Buying insurance that can cover damages caused by floods and fires to a home also constitutes a mitigation activity. Effective efforts in the process can help to avoid the possibility of a repeated damage. It creates safer societies by minimizing the loss of life and damage to property (Smith, 2013). It is worth to note that mitigation activities occur before and after emergencies.
According to the research, this element increases the ability of a community to respond in the event of a disaster. The National Incidence Management System (NIMS) has stated that preparedness is a constant cycle that ensures efficient coordination when addressing an incident (Galindo & Battaa, 2013). Measures in typical preparation include mutual understanding, training, and conducting education campaigns to create awareness of natural calamities and other risks.
Therefore, personal preparedness focuses on assembling tools and procedures for use in case of a disaster. The study shows that measures under this element include the construction of shelters, creation of back-up-life line services such as water, installation of warning equipment, and the rehearsal of evacuation plans (Regehr & Bober, 2005). Further, steps that the first responders must take to prepare a community for a disaster include building an emergency management ordinance, assessing risks and vulnerabilities, establishing an emergency operation plan, developing a warning system, identifying and acquiring resources, instituting a mutual aid agreement, as well as training, exercising and educating people.
The dimension of response interventions concerns putting plans for disaster management into action. The purpose of this intervention is to save lives and stop further property damage brought about by a tragedy. According to Regehr and Bober (2005), an emergency plan must be well developed to encourage the effective coordination of resources. Response actions conducted immediately before, during, and after a disaster aim at saving lives, minimizing the economic loss, and reducing suffering (Regehr & Bober, 2005). They involve the mobilization of possible emergency actions and the first responders in the place of emergency. This aspect forms the basis of the principal emergency management offered by the first responders, including ambulance crews, firefighters, and the police.
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Activities in this phase include providing mass care services for victims, evacuating them from the scene, establishing camps for the affected group, providing medical care services, and firefighting (Fogli & Guida, 2013). Further, response starts when the crisis is impending or immediately after the occurrence of a disaster. Besides, it entails actions that solve short-term direct effects of an incident (Fogli & Guida, 2013). The first responders are therefore tasked with the responsibility of conducting a situation assessment to protect citizens and the property of society (Galindo & Battaa, 2013). To accomplish this role, responders must respond quickly to the tragedy.
Research indicates that recovery is the final dimension of the continuum of interventions for the first responders. It focuses on actions taken to return to a normal or improved situation after the disaster (Regehr & Bober, 2005). Such activities include the restoration of essential services and the repair of economic, social, and physical damages (Regehr & Bober, 2005). According to Smith (2013), typical recovery actions include giving financial assistance to affected parties by the government, rebuilding roads, buildings, bridges and other primary facilities, cleaning up the disaster area, and providing sustainable mass care for the displaced population. In so doing, victims can regain their normal living conditions.
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Overall, considering the information mentioned above, it is possible to conclude that the four dimensions of the continuum of interventions for first responders include mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. All of them are of great importance, and activities in these elements should be fully implemented to save lives of affected parties, minimize adverse impacts of disasters, and fully recover the affected areas. Even though the four dimensions have particular actions assigned to the first responders, it has been found that they cannot act independently. Instead, all four types of interventions are interconnected to boost the effectiveness of emergency management. Mitigation reduces the possibility of the occurrence of an emergency. Preparedness gives plans to save lives and property. The response stage involves actions that aim at saving lives and thwarting further damage to property in case of a tragedy. On the other hand, recovery refers to actions taken to return to a normal condition after a disaster. Thus, the four dimensions are necessary tools for managing natural and human-made disasters.
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