Emergency management is also a vital part to the planning for a disaster. Training will have to be conducted at periodic intervals to maintain the preparedness of the emergency response team and to evaluate the condition and the operational difficulties if any that may arise due to the equipment being used. The procedures will have to be critiqued and constantly evaluated to determine if a better, safer or more efficient method can be used in the procedure. A clean up task force will also have to be set up to help clean and restore the area to as near as possible, its pre-disaster state. Sufficient funds will have to be allocated to keep the emergency response team properly outfitted. An emergency fund may also be required to be set up to take care of the clean up activities that may be required. This fund would have to be very liquid so that it can be accessed quickly at any time.
Training the public is also an important part of any emergency management plan. Many state and local emergency relief plans state their mission as: "ensuring that the area or region is prepared to respond to emergencies, recover from them, and to mitigate against their impacts." Being prepared and not just scared can also help the public stay calm and knowledgeable at the time of the disaster. The public should be encouraged to have a contact person outside the city. Families should identify this person to all members of the family -- in cases of emergency all members can contact this individual and touch-base thereby reducing worry and tension about the safety of the family members who are away at work or school. All members of the family should also identify a common meeting place where they can gather after the occurrence of a disaster.
Schools are also required to create their own emergency plans and parents should be aware of any changes or modifications made in the emergency plans. It is also incumbent upon families to make arrangements for emergency first aid kits, food and liquid in case of shut down of utility services. Different communities have different methods of communication; and, it is imperative that one is aware of the communication methods and the method of broadcast that is to be used. In many situations staying in a safe area is advisable unless plans indicate otherwise.
A plan for evacuation is also required. The need for evacuation may arise if the disaster is very severe and the structural integrity of a building or bridge or the area in general is questionable. Evacuations may also be required if the possibility of the hazard has not passed and is like to cause more damage such as secondary fires, bridging of dams and reservoirs. Schools, offices and public places should perform training exercises to educate the public about the protocols that need to be followed. Implementation of adequate measures to inform the residents of the safe routes through and from the area in cases of emergencies should also be clear. Staying calm and thinking and acting rationally is also essential for emergency management personnel. The public looks to ranking officials for support and guidance during an emergency. As such, the demeanor and approach taken by officials will largely determine the confidence experienced by the public at large.
Correct and informational information should be provided by the disaster relief agencies to the public. Wrong information to the public may result in a panic scare and may not be helpful when a disaster really occurs. The public should also be informed about the dangers using bridges, tunnels and ferry services during a disaster. Non-essential travel is generally banned during the occurrence of a disaster. The local and state authorities generally define the laws of travel during and emergency and provide guidance to the general public for their personal safety. Information about how the public is supposed to behave on the announcement of the travel ban should be provided to the public as soon as the policies have been decided.
This is where the role of local law enforcement officials becomes very essential. The police force has to have the capability with respect to personnel and resources to respond to threats and disaster when they occur. The Department of Homeland Security works closely with all police departments in ensuring that the safety-goals for all U.S. citizens is met. The police forces in the United States are probably one of the best trained law enforcement departments any where in the world. There are however, some discrepancies that do exist.
Police departments and the resources allocated to them differ significantly between states, cities and counties. As do the risks that are faced by these regions. For instance, the New York Police Department (NYPD) faces different threats when compared to the Binghamton Police Department in upstate New York. The preparedness also therefore significantly differs between the two.
The training requirements that the police department now need are more extensive than in the past. Language skill for example is becoming more important and officials with multiple language capabilities are becoming a great asset for the police department. The type of combat skills and SWAT capabilities are also essential to ensure that the threat can be mitigated and destroyed in the shortest possible of time. The manner in which threats are handled has also changed. Diffusing bombs, chemical and biological weapons and dirty bombs is a skill that most law enforcement agencies have to posses in the modern world as there might not be sufficient time to get experts from other jurisdictions to handle the problem.
In situations where there is mass destruction, civic problems such as looting and crime also increase due to the decrease in the police force that can be utilized for law enforcement purposes. Emergency army deployments may be required in the area to maintain law and order. Post disaster efforts will also require help from external law enforcement agencies. The Department of Defense maintains significant resources (personnel, equipment, and supplies) that may be available to support the Federal response to a major disaster or emergency.
The National Integration Center (NIC) Incident Management Systems Integration Division was setup to ensure that if a major disaster did occur help from other jurisdictions could be quickly and efficiently obtained. This is possible only because the information is shared over a common database and information is constantly updated to ensure that responders are provided with the most correct information. The integration of information from public, non-governmental and private organization is also seen as offering the best possible to help profile patterns of behavior of the public at large especially if there are some potential trends of suspicious behavior.
Balancing the need for monitoring terrorist activities while safeguarding the privacy of the individual are issues that are a growing concern for the government and the public. Technology has also helped in filtering information without human intervention making the process very time saving. With technology, other risks also increase. The fear of hacking or the corruption of databases is also a factor that has to be considered with respect to national security and information.
Lessons learned and information sharing is also become an important part of the new strategy for the Homeland Security agency. As most of the individuals involved are adults the concepts of adult learner and the manner in which the knowledge is retained differs from that of young learners. It has observed however, that adults will learn new information if the final objective of the learning process is tangible. Informal learning is observed in adults; and, they are willing to use a number of mediums for this purpose. Realizing this, the department has created a number of audio-visual training programs that have helped train many of the personnel in the department. Planning the training program and itinerant intensity is also important. It is often observed that training two or more members from a department at the same time can help the training information get more exposure due to the discussion and debates that may arise as a result of the course material.
The government has also created a "Lessons Learned Information Sharing (LLIS) online network of the best practices and lessons learned designed to help homeland security responders, planners, and healthcare professionals prevent, prepare for, and respond to terrorism." (LLIS, 2008) This is a password protected site that offers the most comprehensive range of information that can be beneficial. The Responder Knowledge Base (RKB, 2008) is another online support that offers information on "on available equipment, equipment certification and standards, equipment training, cost resources, and reviews from other equipment users."
There is also an open forum maintained by the homeland security technology solution where comments and feedback from first responders are solicited. This helps identify gaps and issues in the technology that exist and can help the tech support to bridge the gaps. Constant feedback is also helping the department identify areas where improvement is needed…