Emergency Communications Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Awareness Campaign

Every individual in this community will face an emergency or disaster that may result in the loss of life, property, or business. Being prepared to react and respond to a natural disaster or emergency is in everyone's interest and that of their community. Emergency management distinguishes the two. Emergencies are " 'routine' adverse events that do not have communitywide impact or do not require extraordinary use of resources…to bring conditions back to normal….what constitutes a disaster depends on…the jurisdiction's size, its resource base, and its experience with a particular hazard….a precept of emergency management that each community establish distinct levels…that define the progression from an emergency to a disaster" (Drabek, xviii). Different disasters have different impacts upon people's responses to them. The "death and devastation of disaster represent the worst of human fears….many costs involved in the various stages of disaster response: the preparatory and preventative, counterdisaster, rescue and recovery operations" (Raphael, 4). This awareness campaign will look at natural disasters that can strike a community. I have selected the fictional community of Los Gotto Feliz. It's a community in Central California, tucked in a valley, populated by fifty thousand people with a small service manufacturing industry (large machinery vehicles) and farmland (avocado ranching and nut farms). Emergency managers have learned that they need to be able to meet public's demands to bring life to normal as soon as possible following a disaster. In order to accomplish that, emergency managers must teach the public how to better protect themselves prior to an emergency or disaster; knowing what to do can reduce any inconvenience or suffering immediately following an event's impact upon a community. Ignorance only compounds the problems. California is susceptible to many time of natural disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, land slides, mud slides, winter storms, and floods, and fires. The community of Los Gotto Feliz is most commonly endangered by earthquakes and wildfires, which originate from nearby mountains and national forest. California has outpaced any other state in receiving "Presidential declarations of major disasters…[receiving] more federal disaster dollars…experienced more disaster damage loss" (Sylves and Waugh, xviii).

Since earthquakes and fires are the primary dangers to the Los Gotto Feliz community, it is our role to provide the means for individuals to protect themselves, their family, their home, business, and to give aid to others in their community. We know that the "nature of the community that is struck by a disaster many influence what happens during the warnings, impact, and aftermath stages….[and] qualities of communities may…include patterns of, and access to, communications; the view and trust of authorities…cultural and ethnic issues; how dependent and independent, rural or urban the community is" (Raphael, 22). The awareness campaign will promote disaster preparedness curriculum materials for classroom use; outreach to local community leaders through national partners; seminars for neighborhood associations; materials for school presentations; special seasonal disaster preparedness campaigns; special preparedness seminars for employees of business, industry, and other organizations. The City of Los Gotto Feliz Disaster Preparedness Program will include the beginning stages of developing a plan for providing appropriate public education for disaster response and recovery; and, implement training, guidance, organization, and structured information for communities to care for themselves, for a significant period of time, with very little assistance from local governmental emergency response services. To accomplish these goals, we must inform and educate the community in areas of prevention, preparation, and response to disasters:

Work with neighborhood representatives and hold an initial meeting, with these individuals, to discuss community involvement with disaster preparedness.

Train 100 people in one year through a 15-hour CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training program.

Prepare residents to be self sufficient for the first 72 hours after a disaster.

Place articles in local papers or other publications regarding Community Disaster Preparedness.

Create a Disaster Deputy program for school children.

And in order to accomplish our goals, we must:

Organize, maintain, and evaluate plans and resources.

From a guidance inventory, review, edit and finalize a guidance sheet that neighborhoods can work from in order to maintain a current inventory of their respective resources.

Conduct an inventory of special needs/conditions - of households - i.e. elderly residents, handicapped residents, children, pets, etc.

Identify primary evacuation routes.

Identify all potential sheltering facilities/locations -- and the suitability of those buildings. Also, have a plan to utilize our parks and schools to serve as coordination centers during emergencies.

Coordinate neighborhood groups with all "helping agencies" such as the Red Cross.

Identify community-wide resources.

Foster a partnership by this program and the City government that would identify tasks accomplished by the community prior to arrival of emergency response services and would develop a network for citizen communication for reporting damage and securing appropriate assistance from governmental services.

It is great task being outlaid, but necessary if the community is to respond accordingly in the event of a natural disaster. Essentially, it's going to require a good deal of legwork and face-to-face talks with the public. First, we'll introduce the CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), which "requires a partnership between community members and local government, emergency management and response agencies….[and] discuss… ways to improve their community's preparedness capability" (FEMA). We would work with FEMA to help train and gain better evaluation of the community. We would seek ways to incorporate the costs with the city's budget, grants from the State of California and from FEMA.

Next, prepare a variety of broachers and publications for various members of the publications. We will initiate a Disaster Deputies program for school children, where members of the Emergency management team speak at community schools and stress the need to be in the event of emergencies. We would distribute simple, easy-to-relate publications of what is needed in an emergency kit for their home -- something they can help prepare; teach them how their lives can be disruptive if the simple amenities such as water, electricity, and heating were unavailable. Costs of these publications are available on grant-basis through the State of California, and several federal agencies, including NOAA, FEMA, and non-government services such as the Red Cross. We would direct the children to visit our website and learn more on how to be a Disaster Deputy in their home.

Then, produce simple one-page emergency checklists for home and business owners that will allow people to reference in preparing emergency kits. These one-page lists can be distributed through mailing lists of utility companies, tucked with Sunday newspapers, and available in all local government offices. We would request these entities to waive any distribution costs to the City of Los Gotto Feliz as part of a public interest awareness campaign. We would incorporate printing costs as part of the city budget and seek grant applications from the State and Federal governments. For homes and businesses, publish expanded emergency checklists to cover more topics. We must remember, the community may have water, power, sewer, and telephone disrupted for 3-5 days, pending on the strength of the disaster. This expanded publication would be available upon request through the emergency management office, or downloaded from the city's website. Making all these documents downloadable would help reduce our costs and spending our monies better on notifying the public that such information is available, essentially saying, "Don't wait for a disaster to respond. Act now!"

Lastly, since wildfires are a danger to the area, conduct special seminars at gardening and landscaping businesses on ways people can protect their property by effective means of plants, trees, or planning the outlay of their yard; also, invite construction specialists to tell people about special materials that can help save a structure. The goal is to reduce destruction of property and reduce costs in emergency response in the aftermath phase.

But to communicate our programs means distribution of our services to the public…

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