Natural disasters occur on Earth more and more often, bringing death and suffering to people, destroying the economy, and damaging the environment. A hurricane is an extremely fast and strong, often destructive and long-lasting air movement. It is one of the most powerful forces of the elements and its harmful effects can be compared to an earthquake. A hurricane wind destroys strong and light buildings, devastates fields, breaks wires, knocks down power transmission and communication poles, breaks and upturns trees by their roots, drowns ships, and damages transport highways (Wankhade et al., 2019). Special services are created to overcome a disaster with the least loss and repair the damage as soon as possible. This paper describes how the activities for the elimination of emergencies are organized in the United States.
The Decisions of Incident Commander
The Incident Commander of the Emergency Operations Center carries out the current management and control of the implementation of programs and measures for the prevention and elimination of emergencies. Working in contact with local authorities helps to ensure consistency in emergency response plans and actions in the assigned territory. The functions of the head of the emergency department include coordinating all aspects of the emergency response capacity. The Incident Commander coordinates all elements of the local emergency response program, including assessing the availability and readiness of means that may be required in the event of an emergency, and identifying and correcting existing deficiencies (Chang, 2017). The decisions of the Incident Commander must be based on the National Response Framework. This document highlights the main functions and responsibilities in the field of emergencies, specifies the special powers of the structures, and the advanced methods of response from local incidents to large-scale natural disasters.
The Incident Commander is responsible for everything that happens when he or she is in charge of the incident. When making decisions, the Incident Commander has to focus on prioritizing coordination in the contingency planning and operational planning process. The problem, needs, and resource assessments identify what has to be done and which areas are prioritized (Chang, 2017). They are part of the effective planning and decision-making process. Plans should be updated to reflect new assessments and progress. Critical unmet needs should be identified using the results of evaluations and comparing them with established standards (Chang, 2017). It is also necessary to determine what resources are available and what are needed. They include human resources and personnel, local and international organizations that are operational partners, and material resources. A timely and rapid assessment of the problems and needs will help the Incident Commander to confirm or identify areas where the necessary resources are lacking.
Prioritizing the Problems
The most pressing survival needs must be met: health and sanitation, food, water, and temporary shelter in an emergency. It must be also ensured that all resources are equitably distributed among all the affected people. First of all, the necessary organizational assistance, medical personnel, essential medicines, and equipment should be provided in close consultation with national health facilities (Son et al., 2018). Secondly, people must be provided with a sufficient amount of water. The water demand is calculated based on the norm of at least 15 liters of water per person per day. The absolute minimum for survival is 7 liters per day (Wankhade et al., 2019). To preserve human health, it is preferable to provide them with a large amount of sufficiently safe water, rather than a small amount of highly purified water. The water must be safe, and each new source must be tested for its physical, chemical, and bacteriological composition before starting operation. Local water delivery should be provided if the need cannot be met otherwise.
The next priority is food, so at least a diet with the minimum of calorie needs must be met. Further steps can be taken to ensure a more complete diet. Special nutrition programs can be developed if there are clear signs of nutritional deficiencies. In this case, it is necessary to create food warehouses. Another priority is a temporary shelter in the case of an emergency. Housing should provide protection from the elements, space to live, and store property (Wankhade et al., 2019). It should provide adequate privacy and emotional security. People should be provided with blankets and clothing if necessary. For housing, it is best to use suitable local materials, if available, and the accommodation must be suitable for all seasons. In this situation, tents turned out to be an unsuccessful option in practice. Whenever possible, the need for roofing and other materials from local sources should be satisfied (Wankhade et al., 2019). In addition to housing, one of the priorities is the provision of sufficient blankets, appropriate clothing, and heating appliances.
Handling of Problems within the Context of the Incident Command System
During hurricanes and other emergencies, the Incident Command System must respond in a way that meets the needs of the affected population. It provides the basis for a quick response according to the scale of the situation. ICS is a standardized approach to managing complex incidents. It consists of five main elements that work together to effectively handle the problems and manage the incident. First of all, it is necessary to design a command structure that is non-duplicative, scalable to the needs of the incident, and follows a reasonable control range (Son et al., 2018). Larger incidents, as in the case of Hurricane Anne, require more leaders. Integrating people from third-party agencies into the team structure is also a necessary step. The next necessary thing is to identify the needs and set the goals for the resolution of an incident. It is also important to develop strategies to achieve the main goals. Finally, the Incident Command System should provide support and guidance to those responsible for completing the tasks.
Proper Planning and Steps to Ease the Critical Situation
The Incident Commander would be better able to control and manage the disaster if the planning process were more effective. The best practices of the Incident Command System must start with planning (Chang, 2017). Someone should be appointed as an emergency program manager who will plan and direct the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). The ICS must solve the problem of control through a flexible organizational structure of teams. One of the core principles of ICS is a clear chain of command consisting of an incident manager and four sections: operations, planning, logistics, and administration (Chang, 2017). Depending on the complexity of the incident, each ICS section can be divided into branches, divisions, and teams led by branch directors, divisional, or team leaders.
Effective integrated emergency response requires proper planning and a multi-level system of mutual support with the systematic involvement of government agencies, private sector organizations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The readiness of each individual is also of great importance. Local, state, and federal governments, NGOs, and the private sector need to understand their roles and responsibilities and help each other to achieve common goals (Son et al., 2018). Authorities at every level must play an important role in building the capacity needed to respond to emergencies. This includes developing plans, conducting assessments and exercises, providing and channeling resources, reviewing experiences, and learning from lessons.
Carrying out a process of assessing the situation, defining immediate objectives, longer-term goals, and measures to achieve them will ease the critical situation. Planning is essential both before and during the emergency, and the planning of operations should be based on a detailed assessment of needs and resources (Chang, 2017). The management structure should be established so that there is a clear responsibility for all actions, including management decisions. Decision-makers, such as Incident Commanders and other staff, must have the appropriate level of knowledge to make decisions and be responsible for ensuring that it is enforced, followed up, and monitored (Chang, 2017). Actions are also slowed down in the absence of clarity in the definition of responsibilities. Therefore, a clear and precise hierarchy of authority and accountability should be established and communicated to the staff.
The Incident Commander and other staff members of the Emergency Operations Center play a critical role in assisting survivors in emergencies, providing temporary shelters, medicines, food, psychological and counseling assistance, and other vital services to survivors. Examples of the Emergency Operations Center activities include the selection of temporary shelter locations, the selection of suppliers of the necessary items, and the provision of essential services to those in need. They provide clothing, food, shelter, and assistance in restoring order after an emergency. Identifying unmet needs and participating in the coordination of care is also an important part of the organization’s work.
Chang, H. H. (2017). A literature review and analysis of the incident command system. International Journal of Emergency Management, 13(1), 50-67.
Son, C., Sasangohar, F., Peres, S. C., Neville, T. J., Moon, J., & Mannan, M. S. (2018). Modeling an incident management team as a joint cognitive system. Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries, 56, 231-241.
Wankhade, P., McCann, L., & Murphy, P. (2019). Critical perspectives on the management and organization of emergency services. Routledge.