It is crucial both economically and socially, to prevent emergency situations or significantly reduce their scale in case of occurrence. To solve this problem, it is necessary to implement a targeted state policy in the field of protecting the population and territories from natural and man-made emergencies. Such protection refers to the activities of state bodies at all levels in defining goals, setting fundamental objectives, and developing directions, forms and methods of activity that ensure the achievement of the goals (Rubin & Cutter, 2019). With a complex and changeable external environment, the structure of the emergency management system must, first of all, be flexible and adaptive.
Within the framework of the structures of such control systems, it should be possible to maximize the concentration of all resources and to combine information, organization, and other types of reserves for the liquidation of an emergency situation in the shortest time. No decision should reduce the degree of security of society as a whole and of each person individually, no matter what intentions and conditions it may be dictated by. The problem of emergency management also includes the availability of unreliable and inaccurate information, especially at its initial stage. Therefore, the success of managers in developing adequate management decisions largely depends on their level of awareness.
Key Features of an Incident Command System
In the USA, the responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security include the issues of preventing emergencies, reducing their possible scale, saving lives, and property, and protecting the environment and economic facilities during natural and man-made disasters. Moreover, the sphere of its responsibility covers eliminating disasters consequences. An effective integrated response to an emergency requires a multi-level system of mutual providing of support, with the systematic involvement of government agencies, private sector organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The readiness of each individual and each family is also of significant importance. Population, as well as tribal, state, and federal government, NGOs and the private sector must understand their roles and responsibilities and help each other achieve common goals (Rubin & Cutter, 2019). Authorities at every level play a crucial role in building the capacity needed to respond to emergencies.
Response to an emergency begins at the local level, where it happened. The primary responsibility for eliminating the consequences of emergencies and establishing the causes of their occurrence rests with local authorities, who can use local police, firefighters, rescue services, and medical institutions for these purposes. The duties of the mayor of the city (county) include ensuring public safety. The mayor, together with the head of the local emergency department, creates the basis for an effective response. In the event of serious incidents, these individuals are required to coordinate the efforts of various institutions and jurisdictions, political parties, sectors of society, organizations, etc. In addition, local authorities work closely with their congressmen, who provide ongoing support to their constituents in enabling opportunities for effective emergency response and disaster planning.
The head of the local emergency department carries out the current management and control of the implementation of programs and measures for the prevention and elimination of emergency situations. 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 head of the emergency department coordinates all elements of the local emergency response program, including assessing the availability and readiness of forces and means that may be required in the event of an emergency, and identifying and correcting existing deficiencies.
Public authorities are responsible for protecting the life, property, and well-being of their citizens, while the private sector acts as a partner to government bodies in many areas of emergency prevention and response. NGOs play a critical role in assisting victims of disasters by ensuring the availability of temporary shelters, food, psychological and counseling assistance, and other vital services to victims.
One of the main responsibilities of the state government is to provide assistance to local authorities in protecting the population from disasters. The state authorities ensure emergency and planned assistance to administrative-territorial entities located in the territory of state, by developing programs to protect the population from emergencies and constantly coordinating these actions with federal authorities. The state must be ready to assist local authorities in providing goods and services when emerging needs outweigh local capabilities. If a state does not have sufficient resources to cope with an emergency on its own, the governor of the state can request assistance from the federal government or from the government of another state based on a concluded mutual assistance agreement, such as the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). During an emergency, the state helps to integrate and coordinate resources and use them to meet local needs.
The law requires the establishment of an emergency management body, as well as the preparation of contingency plans. The state chief of emergency is responsible for the state’s preparedness to respond to large-scale emergencies; this office coordinates the state’s response to any emergency. In case when local resources are not sufficient, municipalities may seek help from the county disaster chief or the state emergency officer. The state emergency department can dispatch emergency responders to the scene to help manage an emergency. The responsibility of heads of state departments and agencies is provided for the development, planning, and training of staff according to internal policies and procedures to ensure an effective and safe response in an emergency. In addition, they participate in interagency exercises and training programs with the aim of developing and maintaining the required capacity.
Work on disaster relief is coordinated by the commissions for the prevention and elimination of emergency situations by state authorities and local authorities. The Head of the local emergency department, together with local authorities, should provide wide information about the population and organize emergency rescue operations in conditions of the flood. These operations include evacuation of the population from threatened zones, search for victims, ensuring access of rescuers to them and their rescue, providing first aid, and evacuation of victims from the danger zone (McCreight, 2019). The main ways to search for victims in the flood zone include the following: visual inspection of water areas open for review; continuous visual inspection of flooded settlements, flooded, damaged and destroyed buildings, structures and objects of the natural environment; search according to eyewitness information (McCreight, 2019). Visual inspection is carried out by search and rescue teams on watercraft, aircraft, or through joint search. The method and technology for rescuing a specific victim (a group of victims) is determined by the search and rescue group commander based on an assessment of the situation at their location.
The main ways to protect people from the damaging factors of flood will be the evacuation of the population from flooded areas, placing people on non-flooded parts of undamaged structures and areas of the terrain, with the help of the state emergency department. At the same time, engineering troops must ensure the discharge of water. The territory of the flooded zone should be divided into sectors, and the sector, in turn, is divided into separate workplaces, for the convenience of work management and to ensure clear interaction between rescue units. The main tasks of flood investigation should be solved, including identification of the boundaries of flooding, control of the dynamics of flood development, and revealing the location of people in need of help. Urgent flood emergency response activities include the following (McCreight, 2019):
- Strengthening (erection) of enclosing dams and embankments;
- Construction of drainage channels;
- Elimination of congestion and jamming;
- Equipment of berths for life-saving equipment;
- Protection and restoration of road structures;
- Restoration of power supply;
- Localization of sources of secondary damaging factors.
Depending on the location of the settlement, the time before the start of its flooding, the state of transport communications and other factors, evacuation can be carried out immediately before receiving a signal about the possible flooding of the area or only in case of an imminent threat of flooding, on foot or using vehicles. In addition to the evacuation of the population, the export of farm animals, and material and cultural values can also be organized. In zones of possible flooding, a public warning system is created; information is provided in advance about the location of settlements regarding the possible danger zone and evacuation routes. For the population and evacuation services, training are conducted on the practical development of evacuation issues, including the independent exit of people to a non-flooded area. The placement of people on non-flooded parts, non-destructible structures and areas of the terrain is used in cases where the high speed of the water flow causes its rapid arrival in settlements and (or) the population cannot be evacuated to a safe area. It should be borne in mind that the population can use the upper parts of trees as a place of temporary residence (shelter).
Involvement of Other Federal or State Agencies in Scenario
To carry out emergency rescue operations, units of the civil defense forces, search and rescue teams (services), reinforced with airborne means, are assigned. To perform other urgent work, taking into account their nature, engineering and technical, road units and formations are appointed. When searching and rescuing victims in the water and in flooded areas, aviation technologies using aircraft and helicopters should be widely used.
Moreover, private sector representatives and volunteers should be encouraged to participate in rescue operations. Private sector enterprises play an important role in disaster prevention, disaster relief, and subsequent recovery. First, they must ensure the safety of their employees in the workplace. In addition, local disaster management authorities need to establish partnerships with water, power, communications, transportation, health, safety, and many other services that are critical to disaster response and recovery. If the incident occurred, the core private partner organizations should be involved in the decision-making process for resolving the crisis, or at least have direct communication with emergency management specialists at the local level. The organization of interaction of forces of local police, firefighters, rescue services, and medical institutions is one of the most important factors contributing to the success of the emergency rescue. This interaction should be ensured by the mayor and the local emergency department. Interaction is organized primarily in the interests of the rescue units, to provide the implementation of rescue works as soon as possible. In addition, local disaster management authorities need to establish partnerships with water, power, communications, transportation, health, safety, and many other services that are critical to disaster response and recovery.
The organization of interaction between the forces of liquidation of the consequences of floods and catastrophic flooding of territories is one of the most important factors ensuring the success of emergency rescue and other urgent operations. In an indirect manner, state financial authorities also take part in the elimination of flood consequences. Thus, in 2016, the White House opened Louisiana emergency funding for flood relief.
McCreight, R. (2019). An introduction to emergency exercise design and evaluation (3rd ed.). Bernan Press.
Rubin, C., & Cutter, S. (2019). U.S. emergency management in the 21st century: From disaster to catastrophe. Routledge.