Friday, August 22, 2014

Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management

The effects of natural and manmade disasters have become more frequent, far-reaching, and widespread. As a result, preserving the safety, security, and prosperity of all parts of our society is becoming more challenging. Our Nation’s traditional approach to managing the risks associated with these disasters relies heavily on the government. However, today’s changing reality is affecting all levels of government in their efforts to improve our Nation’s resilience while grappling with the limitations of their capabilities. Even in small- and medium-sized disasters, which the government is generally effective at managing, significant access and service gaps still exist. In large-scale disasters or catastrophes, government resources and capabilities can be overwhelmed.

Homes destroyed when a tornado hit Joplin, MO May 22, 2011.
The scale and severity of disasters are growing and will likely pose systemic threats.2 Accelerating changes in demographic trends and technology are making the effects of disasters more complex to manage. One future trend affecting emergency needs is continued population shifts into vulnerable areas (e.g., hurricane-prone coastlines). The economic development that accompanies these shifts also intensifies the pressure on coastal floodplains, barrier islands, and the ecosystems that support food production, the tourism industry, and suburban housing growth. Other demographic changes will affect disaster management activities, such as a growing population of people with disabilities living in communities instead of institutions, as well as people living with chronic conditions (e.g., obesity and asthma). Also, communities are facing a growing senior population due to the Baby Boom generation entering this demographic group. Consequently, changes in transportation systems and even housing styles may follow to accommodate the lifestyles of these residents. If immigration trends continue as predicted, cities and suburbs will be more diverse ethnically and linguistically. Employment trends, when combined with new technologies, will shift the ways in which local residents plan their home-to-work commuting patterns as well as their leisure time. All of these trends will affect the ways in which residents organize and identify with community-based associations and will influence how they prepare for and respond to emergencies.

Read the rest of the white paper.

Describe the whole community approach to dealing with disasters? What are some of the factors that nake communities complex? How can emergency service personnel leverage and strength socialinfrastructure, networks, and assets? How does this approach relate to public safety and counter-terrorism?

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