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Career In Disaster Management

Disaster Management is a strategic planning and procedure that is administered and employed to protect critical infrastructures (also known as "critical assets") from severe damages when natural or human made calamities and catastrophic even occur. In the United States, Executive Order 13407 is established as policy for the United States to have an effective, reliable, integrated, flexible, and comprehensive system to alert and warn the general public, which is called "Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) (FEMA, 2011). In the later year of 2010, Europe started to develop a strategic National Disaster Management after so many natural catastrophes happened in the year of 2010. According to European Academy (2010), there are 725 extremely weather phenomena caused billions of Euro damage and thousands of people's life.

Types of disasters

There is no country that is immune from disaster, though vulnerability to disaster varies. There are four main types of disaster.

Natural disasters: including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and volcano eruptions that have immediate impacts on human health and secondary impacts causing further death and suffering from (for example) floods, landslides, fires, tsunamis.

Environmental emergencies: including technological or industrial accidents, usually involving the production, use or transportation of hazardous material, and occur where these materials are produced, used or transported, and forest fires caused by humans.

Complex emergencies: involving a break-down of authority, looting and attacks on strategic installations, including conflict situations and war.

Pandemic emergencies: involving a sudden onset of contagious disease that affects health, disrupts services and businesses, brings economic and social costs.

Any disaster can interrupt essential services, such as health care, electricity, water, sewage/garbage removal, transportation and communications. The interruption can seriously affect the health, social and economic networks of local communities and countries. Disasters have a major and long-lasting impact on people long after the immediate effect has been mitigated. Poorly planned relief activities can have a significant negative impact not only on the disaster victims but also on donors and relief agencies. So, it is important that physical therapists join established programs rather than attempting individual efforts.

Local, regional, national and international organizations are all involved in mounting a humanitarian response to disasters. Each will have a prepared disaster management plan. These plans cover prevention, preparedness, relief and recovery.

Knowledge management in context of disaster management

During a time of crisis relevant information is usually not received in a timely manner by the individuals or groups of individuals that need it the most. The lack of timely and correct information increases the level of confusion, resulting in ineffectiveness that may cause a loss of life. The lack of timely and correct information also prevents First Responders, key leadership and the public from preparing for imminent danger, compromises the ability to make informed decisions and enact the proper emergency preparedness operations.

When I speak of information I also include the data that comprises the information and the decisions (knowledge) that is gained from and acted upon with the information.

Creating a Knowledge Management (KM) Strategy presents a holistic approach to leveraging knowledge and implementing technology to improve the access to correct and timely data, information and knowledge. The KM Strategy reflects several key aspects in delivering knowledge throughout an organization. The KM Strategy suitable for execution by first responders should align with the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which “provides a consistent nationwide template to enable federal, state, tribal, local governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector to work together to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of incidents, regardless of cause, size, location, or complexity”. The KM Strategy for first responders will specifically address disaster preparedness, response and recovery including the technology that must be leveraged to support this strategy.

Skills required for disaster management :

Critical Thinking and Decision Making

First and foremost, directors of emergency management must be able to think on their feet. In a disaster, circumstances can change in the blink of an eye, and the director must be flexible in order to adjust plans accordingly and be able to consider all the alternatives. Therefore, in this position, you would need to possess strong critical thinking and problem-solving abilities in order to make assessments and judgments needed in a time of stress and chaos.

Communication and Cooperation

Communication is a skill that cannot be overstated in importance when it comes to emergency management services. As a manager, you would be required to communicate clearly and concisely to a vast array of individuals and groups. Effective communication with agency representatives, emergency personnel and the public during trainings, drills, planning and actual emergencies is what ensures that events will occur smoothly, with as few obstacles or problems as possible. You will also need to get along with various groups of people. In this position, there will likely be politics and clashes in personality, but for the greater good of the public, your role would need to be one of diplomacy and bringing people together to get the job done.

Time Management and Organization

An Emergency Management Director is constantly juggling a long list of tasks. Therefore, skills in time management and organization are crucial. In this job, you will need to constantly prioritize and decide which tasks are of higher importance. You also have to process a great deal of information. Being organized and managing your time will help you sort through all of the details on your plate in order to maintain efficiency and to maximize how much you accomplish. This kind of preparation also lends itself well to those time when you need to shift gears and address an emergency, pushing everything else to the side until you have things at hand under control.

Delegation and Supervision

It takes a team to handle crises and emergency situations. You will need to learn the fine art of delegation, parceling out job duties to others on your team. You will also be in charge of the actions of those who work for you. Ensuring that each member of your team is doing their job correctly and is trained properly is a responsibility that could be a matter of life or death in this position. Delegating and supervising are tasks that require diplomacy, tact and interpersonal understanding.

Emergency Management

Emergency Management is the generic name of an interdisciplinary field dealing with the strategic organization management processes used to protect asses of an organization from hazard risks that can cause disasters or catastrophes, and to ensure the continuance of the organization within their planned lifetime (Haddow and Bullock, 2003) (see Figures 1 through 4).

Emergency Management is a systematic process leading to action before, during and after a disaster to save lives and prevent injury (NCDHD, 2011). "Disaster" here means a major emergency that exceeds the community's capacity to respond successfully with its own resources (NCDHD, 2011). Emergency Management is organized into four phases (NCDHD, 2011):

Mitigation: actions taken to eliminate a hazard or reduce its potential impact.

Preparedness: planning for major emergencies, including training and exercises.

Response: actions taken in response to emergencies.

Recovery: actions taken after a disaster to restore services and reconstruct communities.

Frequently asked questions

Q) How many hectares of Indian land are prone to floods and river erosion?

Over 40 million hectares which is almost 12 percent of land is prone to floods and river erosion. These floods and river erosion cause various disasters for the life of human beings and other organisms including vegetations.

Q) . Disaster Management refers to manage disaster response in the country.

Disaster Management plays a very important role in India. India has been traditionally vulnerable to the natural disasters on the account of its unique geographical conditions. Earthquakes, floods, droughts and many more recurrent phenomena occur.


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