If there is anything that every person has learned about life, it is to expect the unexpected. How well the lesson is learned is reflected in the way that person installs the safety net in one’s life and how that is installed in every organization that he or she will build or become a part of. The 9/11 tragedy, hurricane Katrina, and the Japan earthquake of March 2011 are just some examples of the catastrophic episodes that humans usually prepare for. Heck, even home fires can be catastrophic especially when the danger levels escalate. Check out this infographic to see how alarming home fire cases are in the US alone.
Natural and man-made calamities that damage lives and properties are the events that are prayed never to happen yet they still do. Most of these cannot be prevented despite best efforts. Thus, man’s s’ best defense is emergency preparedness. What is emergency preparedness in a practical and technical sense?
Emergency preparedness is a process that intends to ensure that a person/family, an organization, or a nation is in a position of readiness to manage not the disaster but its effects on the affected population. The readiness tempers the loss of life and damages to property. It taps on the emplaced systems that must swiftly deliver services to deliver rescue, first aid, and relief goods. It must also be ready to facilitate the rehabilitation of infrastructures, business, agriculture, and homes to assist the affected families and victims. The level of emergency preparedness can be measured by the speed by which all these services can be delivered after the disaster has occurred.
On a personal level, emergency preparedness can be likened to a life jacket that keeps one afloat during bad times. It is like a survival kit that can keep one eating and drinking within a definite period. Those who take out insurances for health, life, car, homes, etc use this as their motivation. It is the reason why people save their money in the banks or invest in stocks and the likes. This is done because every person knows that there are no guarantees in life; even an executive can get sick or have an accident at a time when there are kids in college. Even stable businesses can suffer from inflation. Natural calamities can happen – fires, floods, earthquakes, twisters – these can flush everything down the drain.
What is emergency preparedness in the perspective of governments and nations? Every nation and government is expected to lay down the foundation of emergency preparedness to be able to marshal resources to manage the effects, deliver the priority services to those who need them and initiate rehabilitation to make communities functional again. In this connection, it is important to have an office that should be immediately under the office of the highest-ranking official to give it the “teeth” to channel resources and logistics when the need arises.
To ensure preparedness, ‘disaster prevention’ is reinforced or measures are taken to detect, contain and preclude or foretell calamities. This can mean funding projects to improve the transmission and relaying of communication from sources to a network of systems. This can entail purchasing of state-of-the-art equipment to forecast weather conditions or state-of-the-art ambulance and air ambulance that contain advance life support systems. Emergency preparedness must also be ready to put in place ‘disaster recovery’ systems in order to restore the functionality of the community, state, or nation. It must have the necessary logistics, financial and other resources to prop victims or segment of society back on its feet.
To undertake activities related to emergency preparedness efficiently and systematically, it is always good to have an emergency preparedness plan. This is written for outlining an action plan that can define the roles of the different participating agencies in a wide scale implementation. It can contain guidelines for specific disasters and for avoiding overlapping of functions, confusion and misunderstanding.
Human experiences taught us that calamities and other unforeseen or unwanted events could take place anytime. Being prepared for any eventuality is something that we all have learned the hard way. Despite the many bitter experiences that humans have gone through, there were much lessons learned along the way. It is during these trying times of disasters that the human spirit had rose above pain as one, stronger and selfless. This is what emergency preparedness all about is.