Mitigation to Recovery After Disasters

Introduction

To begin with it is necessary to mention that the sphere of emergency management is generally focused in the instant and urgent factors of disasters. These are the responses functions linked with fire protection, medical services and civil defense. The mitigation process, and the emergency management in general entails such factors as advanced planning and training if the mitigation aspects. The preparation period is the most essential, as it is aimed at decreasing the fatal consequences of the disaster – thus, decrease the restoration phase. The key aims of these principles are to protect lives and property of the citizens. Thus, it involves not only disaster-reactive responses, but also creating ways to avoid disaster and the consequences of the disaster.

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It is emphasized that the approach to emergency management entails four-stage cyclical process, based on a disaster. These stages are pre-disaster mitigation / prevention; pre-disaster preparedness; disaster response; and post-disaster response or recovery.

Emergency management takes its origin in the Civil defense approaches, which were wide spread during the Cold War period, and the central aim of the security agencies was to defend citizens from military attack. Contemporary approaches are focused on more general intent to protect the population. This protection may be required not only during the warfare, but also in the peaceful time.

The scientific tendency towards the issues of civil defense and emergency management is developing on the steady basis, and it has more the management context, than the defense strategy. This is concentrated on the mitigation approach and the factors of preparedness of the emergency management cycle.

Mitigation to Recovery. Emergency Management

It has been emphasized that emergency management is the science and practical approach of coping with and avoiding dangers. This approach is aimed at preparing for the disaster or potential risk before it occurs, and also it stands for supporting the society and restoring of the damages after natural or human-made disasters. Emergency management is the process when individuals, groups and communities aim to cope with hazards and risks. The actions, which are generally taken, depend on the perceptions and the expected risks and dangers. Effective strategy is often based on systematic integration of emergency management plans at all levels of government and non-government contribution. (Daniels, 2007)

Mitigation phase entails taking the necessary steps which are aimed at mitigating the risk and the unfavorable effects of the hazards and disasters. Taking these steps, the communities, organizations and private civilians can essentially reduce the harm and the damages caused by hazards.

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In the current consequences of limited resources, the emergency management experts are addresses in order to help civilians gain practical assistance in identifying the mitigation approaches and strategies.

Recovery planning and evaluation

As for the matter of planning, it is emphasized that the process of recovering may be the most hazardous challenge which may be faced by the society. However, it should be mentioned that this phase also provides some additional opportunities. This phase may be essentially simplified if the community, responsible for it, has the effective plan. This plan will be able to help the community to mobilize the required resources more rapidly and can help restore confidence and optimism within the society. Bullock (2006) offers the way of creating the plan, which is aimed at improving the existing recovery plans or create such a plan from the very beginning. It is emphasized that the successful plan should entail several factors, which make the implementation of the plan effective, simple and timely. Such plan should take into account the available resources, and the necessity to set up the priorities: what damages should be restored fist, what resources will be required for the restoration, and what resources are currently available. However, the main point of the plan should be: what should be done in order to minimize the damages, and how to avoid the disaster at all, if it is possible. (Krischenbaum, 2004)

Economic development planning and marketing

As for the financial matter of the emergency management, this side essentially depends on the type of the disaster: hurricane, hazardous materials spill or even closing of an industry resulting in the loss of jobs and profits. The current situation in the world which is featured with the constantly changing economic environment and the augmenting influence of the globalization processes in trade and inter-corporation relations. These circumstances increase the necessity to elaborate the diversified and flexible strategy aimed at protection of their financial stability and social safety.

Mitigation

Mitigation phase is often regarded as the central and the most important phase in emergency management, which is aimed at prevention process of the hazard, and as prevention from the developing of the hazards into disasters, and also for the reduction of the effects which disasters may have. The mitigation phase differs essentially from all the other phases, as it is mainly focused on the long-term measures for decreasing the risks and the credibility of the hazard. The implementation of the mitigation approach may be regarded as the part of the recovery phase if it is resorted to after the disaster. The mitigation measures, which are generally taken, may be divided into structural and non-structural. Structural measures presuppose the suing of technological tools and solutions. Non-structural presuppose legislation land-use planning (e.g. the designation of nonessential land like parks to be used as flood zones), and insurance. (Schneider, 2005)

Preparing for the mitigation requires thorough study of the problem and clear identification of the risks. The process of the risk evaluation presupposes the identification and estimation of the hazards. The hazard-specific risk combines both the probability and the level of impact of a specific hazard. The equation below gives that the hazard times the populations’ vulnerability to that hazard produce a risk (Waugh, 2004).

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It is claimed that mitigation is the most cost-effective method for decreasing the consequences of the hazards; however, this approach is not always suitable, as some structural tools may have dangerous effect on the ecosystem of the environment.

Preparedness

After the mitigation, the next phase is activated. It requires well elaborated mitigation plan, nevertheless, it is used for struggling with the disaster when it has already occurred. The commonly accepted measures entail the following:

  • 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 warning methods combined with emergency shelters and evacuation plans.
  • Stockpiling, inventory, and maintain disaster supplies and equipment.
  • Develop organizations of trained volunteers among civilian populations.

Along with the dealing with the disasters,, preparedness is claimed to decrease the amount of casualties: it is often regarded as the study of how many deaths and injuries should be expected for the given period of time after the disaster. This offers an idea of what resources are required for the response to an event

Response

The phase of response entails the mobilization of the required emergency services and the responders in the area of the hazard. This often includes the first wave of central emergency services, such as firefighters, police and ambulance teams. They may be supported by secondary services, such as rescuing teams.

According to Donahue and Joyce (2001) a well rehearsed emergency plan developed as part of the preparedness phase enables efficient coordination of rescue where required, search and rescue efforts commence at an early stage. Depending on injuries sustained by the victim, outside temperature, and victim access to air and water, the vast majority of those affected by a disaster will die within 72 hours after impact.

Recovery

The central purpose of the recovery phase is to restore the area, which was damaged by the disaster, to its previous state. In comparison with the response phase it differs by its focus: the efforts are closely linked with the issues and conclusions which should be made after the immediate requirements. These efforts entail the restoration of the destroyed property, re-employment and restoration of the infrastructure in general. The significant characteristic of the effective recovery entails taking advantage of a ‘window of opportunity’ for the implementation of mitigative measures that might otherwise be unpopular (Broder, 2006)

Comparison

It is claimed that business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning are the essential components of the well being of any organization. Originally, these two approaches are intended to guarantee the continuity, if the company is facing some unpredicted or hazardous circumstances. Planning if such circumstances is not necessarily straightforward, and it is neither suitable for the identification of suitable resources of information services and goods.

It is often emphasized that the disaster recovery or business continuity plan is essential to protect the well being of any organization. Although this cannot really be over emphasized, so many organizations still side step the issue, or have plans which are out of date or just unworkable. (Cahill, 2003) Originally, there are numerous reasons for this, such as complexity and the very fact that the planners sell the plans which are difficult to implement and complex to manage, let alone the fact that these plans are not universal and require essential working through. In comparison with the emergency management, business continuity planning approach has the trend to simplification and good productivity in the process of planning: this entails the creation of the plan directly, using a quality template and managing rules and forms.

Disaster recovery is the process which is focused at the restoration and restarting of the business after some destroying event. The event may be any: earthquake, terrorist attack, software failure, virus, low qualified personnel etc.

Some researchers emphasize that most business executives prefer not to take into account the necessity to elaborate the business recovery strategy, as they consider that destructive events are too rare for planning these strategies. Business continuity planning, in its turn, provides the comprehensive approach for the business executives were sure they are still able to make money not only after some natural disaster or human-made catastrophe, but also after such smaller hazards like the illness, departures or dismissals of responsible workers, supply partners’ problems and other troubles which any company is not ensured against. Anyway, these two concepts are often regarded jointly under the term BC/DR, as they have numerous common features.

The plans of BC/DR should inevitably take into account the process of communication among employees, the factors where these employees go and how they perform their jobs. Details of the plans may vary essentially and depend on the size of the company, its profile and the way it performs its business.

Hiles and Barnes emphasize (2001) the following: for some businesses, issues such as supply chain logistics are most crucial and are the focus on the plan. For others, information technology may play a more pivotal role, and the BC/DR plan may have more of a focus on systems recovery. For example, the plan at one global manufacturing company would restore critical mainframes with vital data at a backup site within four to six days of a disruptive event, obtain a mobile PBX unit with 3,000 telephones within two days, recover the company’s 1,000-plus LANs in order of business need, and set up a temporary call center for 100 agents at a nearby training facility.

The critical point of the BC/DR is that neither element should be ignored, and all the aspects of company’s business activity should be joined in a single plan: physical, IT and human resources, financial management etc. Business leaders and IT managers should work jointly in order to elaborate effective BC/DR plan, and to determine what kind of plan is essential and what system and business components are the most crucial and the most endangered in the company. Jointly, these two leaders should decide who will be responsible for the declaration of the destructing event and which department will be responsible for the implementation of the recovery plan. Originally, such mitigation plan is required to establish a process of finding and rescuing the lost employees, as communication is the key to success even during catastrophic events. This plan should also take into consideration that lots of those employees will be heavily depressed to get back to work, consequently, restoration plan should presuppose the restoration of physical and mental health of the employees.

Business Impact Analysis

The key aim of business impact analysis (BIA) is to assist a company in identification of which business unit, operation or process is the most essential for business survival. Business impact analysis will simplify the identification process of how quickly the these essential units operations and processes will be restored and recovered after the hazard or disastrous situation. Originally, this technique is aimed to delineate the impact of disaster on business, and the scenario on the capability to deliver product in order to support the services which are essential for business.

BIA is also aimed at simplifying the identification of the resources which are essential for resuming the business activity up to the survival level. As Macias and Aguirre (2006) claim, the impacts are classified on the basis of the worst-case scenario, which presupposes that the physical infrastructure supporting each respective business unit has been destroyed and all records, equipment, etc. are not accessible within 30 days. Please note that this report does not address recovery assumptions, such as the availability of experienced personnel for recovery, because this type of assumption is typically included in a business continuity plan (BCP).

The issues such as the restoration actions, new risks, or the increasing tendencies in disaster recovery or business continuity, are regarded to be outside the scope of the BIA, however they should be provided in a separate strategic documents.

Conclusion

In conclusion it is necessary to mention that the mitigation to recovery cycle is generally aimed at restoration of any activity subjected to risk, hazard or disaster. The mitigation cycle entails such factors as advanced planning and training if the mitigation aspects. The preparation period is the most essential, as it is aimed at decreasing the fatal consequences of the disaster – thus, decrease the restoration phase. However, the restoration (or as it is called in emergency management approaches – recovery) is also an important phase, which entails the necessary points and approaches aimed at getting back to the pre-disaster positions in business, social, financial and political activities.

References

Broder, J.F. (2006). Risk Analysis and the Security Survey (3rd Edition). Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann

Bullock, J.A. (2006) “Introduction to Homeland Security, First Edition” Butterworth-Heinemann

Cahill, K. M. (Ed.). (2003). Emergency Relief Operations. New York: Fordham University Press.

Daniels, R. S. (2007). Revitalizing Emergency Management after Katrina: A Recent Survey of Emergency Managers Urges Improved Response, Planning, and Leadership and a Reinvigorated FEMA-The Federal Government Has Responded by Making Most of the Recommended Changes. The Public Manager, 36(3), 16

Donahue, A. K., & Joyce, P. G. (2001). A Framework for Analyzing Emergency Management with an Application to Federal Budgeting. Public Administration Review, 61(6), 728

Elliott, D., Swartz, E., & Herbane, B. (2002). Business Continuity Management: A Crisis Management Approach. London: Routledge.

Hiles, A. & Barnes, P. (Eds.). (2001). The Definitive Handbook of Business Continuity Management. New York: John Wiley & Sons

Krischenbaum, A. (2004). Chaos Organization and Disaster Management. New York: Marcel Dekker.

Macias, J. M., & Aguirre, B. E. (2006). A Critical Evaluation of the United Nations Volcanic Emergency Management System: Evidence from Latin America. Journal of International Affairs, 59(2), 43

Schneider, S. K. (2005). Flirting with Disaster: Public Management in Crisis Situations. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.

Wamsley, G. L., & Schroeder, A. D. (1996). Escalating in a Quagmire: The Changing Dynamics of the Emergency Management Policy Subsystem. Public Administration Review, 56(3), 235-246.

Waugh, W. L. (2004). Regionalizing Emergency Management: Counties as State and Local Government. Public Administration Review, 54(3), 253-258.

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