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3219 MacArthur Road / Whitehall, Pa 18052

Emergency Management - Phases

Whitehall Township Mitigation
Mitigation efforts are attempts to prevent hazards from developing into disasters altogether or to reduce the effects of disasters. The mitigation phase differs from the other phases in that it focuses on long-term measures for reducing or eliminating risk. The implementation of mitigation strategies is a part of the recovery process if applied after a disaster occurs.

Mitigation measures can be structural or non-structural. Structural measures use technological solutions like flood levees. Non-structural measures include legislation, land-use planning (e.g. the designation of nonessential land like parks to be used as flood zones), and insurance. Mitigation is the most cost-efficient method for reducing the affect of hazards although not always the most suitable.

Mitigation includes providing regulations regarding evacuation, sanctions against those who refuse to obey the regulations (such as mandatory evacuations), and communication of risks to the public. Some structural mitigation measures may harm the ecosystem.

Any cost-effective action taken to eliminate or reduce the long-term risk to life and property from natural and technological hazards.

The phrase "cost-effective" is added to this definition to stress the important practical idea that, to be beneficial, a mitigation measure should save money in the long run. If the cost of a mitigation project is less than the long-term costs of disaster recovery and repair for the project area, the mitigation is considered cost-effective. Nationwide, FEMA estimates that for every $1 spent on mitigation, $4 are saved!

A precursor to mitigation is the identification of risks. Physical risk assessment refers to identifying and evaluating hazards. The hazard-specific risk (Rh) combines a hazard’s probability and affects. The equation below states that the hazard multiplied by the populations vulnerability to that hazard produces a risk Catastrophe modeling. The higher the risk the more urgent that the vulnerabilities to the hazard are targeted by mitigation and preparedness.

If, however, there is no vulnerability then there will be no risk, e.g. an earthquake occurring in a desert where nobody lives Through effective mitigation practices we can ensure that fewer people and communities become victims of natural disasters.

Mitigation can take many forms. It can involve such actions as:

  • Promoting sound land use planning based on known hazards
  • Buying flood insurance to protect your belongings
  • Relocating or elevating structures out of the floodplain
  • Securing shelves and hot water heaters to walls
  • Developing, adopting and enforcing building codes and standards
  • Engineering roads and bridges to withstand earthquakes
  • Using fire-retardent materials in new construction
  • Developing and implementing a plan in your business or community to reduce your susceptibility to hazards

Preparedness takes the form of plans or procedures designed to save lives and to minimize damage when an emergency occurs. This is a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluation and improvement activities to ensure effective coordination and the enhancement of capabilities to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.

These activities ensure that when a disaster strikes, emergency managers will be able to provide the best response possible. Disasters are caused by gale force winds, floods, releases of deadly chemicals, fire, ice, earthquakes and other natural and man-made hazards. When disaster strikes, the best protection is knowing what to do.

In the preparedness phase, emergency managers develop plans of action to manage and counter their risks and take action to build the necessary capabilities needed to implement such plans.

Common preparedness measures include:

  • Communication plans with easily understandable terminology and methods.
  • Proper maintenance and training of emergency services, including mass human resources such as community emergency response teams.
  • Development and exercise of emergency population warningmethods combined with emergency shelters and evacuation plans.
  • Stockpiling, inventory, and maintain disaster supplies and equipment.
  • Develop organizations of trained volunteers among civilian populations. Professional emergency workers are rapidly overwhelmed in mass emergencies so trained, or ganized, responsible volunteers are extremely valuable. Organizations like Community Emergency Response Teams and the Red Cross are ready sources of trained volunteers. The latter’s emergency management system has gotten high ratings from both California, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Another aspect of preparedness is casualty prediction, the study of how many deaths or injuries to expect for a given kind of event. This gives planners an idea of what resources need to be in place to respond to a particular kind of event.

Emergency Managers in the planning phase should be flexible, and all encompassing – carefully recognizing the risks and exposures of their respective regions and employing unconventional, and atypical means of support. Depending on the region – municipal, or private sector emergency services can rapidly be depleted and heavily taxed. Non-governmental organizations that offer desired resources, i.e., transportation of displaced homeowners to be conducted by local school district buses, evacuation of flood victims to be performed by mutual aide agreements between fire departments and rescue squads, should be identified early in planning stages, and practiced with regularity.

The response phase includes the mobilization of the necessary emergency services and first responders in the disaster area. This is likely to include a first wave of core emergency services, such as firefighters, police and ambulance crews. Response is defined as the actions taken to save lives and prevent further damage in a disaster or emergency situation. Response is putting preparedness plans into action. Response activities may include damage assessment, search and rescue, fire fighting, and sheltering victims.

Organizational response to any significant disaster – natural or terrorist-borne – is based on existing emergency management organizational systems and processes: the Federal Response Plan (FRP) and the Incident Command System (ICS). These systems are solidified through the principles of Unified Command (UC) and Mutual Aid (MA).

Recovery is defined as the actions taken to return the community to normal following a disaster. Repairing, replacing, or rebuilding property are examples of recovery.

The aim of the recovery phase is to restore the affected area to its previous state. It differs from the response phase in its focus; recovery efforts are concerned with issues and decisions that must be made after immediate needs are addressed. Recovery efforts are primarily concerned with actions that involve rebuilding destroyed property, re-employment, and the repair of other essential infrastructure.

Efforts should be made to "build back better", aiming to reduce the pre-disaster risks inherent in the community and infrastructure. An important aspect of effective recovery efforts is taking advantage of a ‘window of opportunity’ for the implementation of mitigative measures that might otherwise be unpopular. Citizens of the affected area are more likely to accept more mitigative changes when a recent disaster is in fresh memory.

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 93-288, as amended (the Stafford Act) was enacted to support State and local governments and their citizens when disasters overwhelm them. The Disaster Process and Disaster Aid Programs explains the disaster declaration process and provides an overview of available assistance.

There are individual assistance programs (an overview of individual assistance programs) that assist people and businesses following a disaster and help you get back on your feet. Public Assistance Programs provides supplemental federal disaster grant assistance to help state and local governments and certain private non-profit organizations rebuild.

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