Emergency Preparedness and Response in the Community Workplace

Emergency Preparedness and Response in the Community Workplace

Disasters can occur at any time in the community and their impacts may be felt for a long time, especially when specific measures are not undertaken. Collaboration between the community and the agencies that deal with emergency preparedness can create positive results in the lives of victims and the entire community. Proper and effective planning will lead to excellent responses. In addition, the integration of counselors in the emergency response teams is critical to offer therapy to immediate victims. Emergency response agencies should be well equipped to handle all types of disasters. This study will focus on building competence for disaster preparedness through the cooperation of Public Environmental Health (PEH), and Emergency Preparedness and Response Programs (EPRP).

Building Capacity for Community Disaster Preparedness

In response to emergencies that a community may face, there is a need to establish bodies that can react swiftly in order to save lives and property. A partnership among the local public environmental health (EH), emergency preparedness and response (EPR) programs, and the communities that these bodies serve are essential in protecting the public from harmful elements in their surroundings (Gamboa-Maldonado, et al., 2012, p. 24). Congress plays a key role in implementing an act that would enhance emergency preparedness through funding. Incidents of terrorism, earthquakes, floods, and disease outbreak are unpredictable; hence, public health departments should always be ready to prevent such threats.

Hurricane Katrina offered a great lesson to many Americans, as many communities were affected either directly or indirectly by the disaster. It was quite necessary to train the communities on EH and EPR to ensure that they were prepared to handle disasters of such magnitude. It is the responsibility of the EH and EPR administrators to enhance confidence in the community through collaboration with the community (Gamboa-Maldonado, et al., 2012, p. 26). However, the EPR agencies cannot handle preventive measures, as their responsibilities are limited to emergency response only. Although the EPR professionals respond to almost every kind of disaster, their training needs are often ignored, as they cannot respond to some disasters, such as bioterrorism.

Critique to Community Disaster Preparedness

Collaboration of community disaster preparedness agencies is crucial in ensuring that the communities they serve are satisfied with their services. This partnership has been lauded for creating strategies that focus on preparedness, response, and recuperation among vulnerable communities. Equally, the agencies have empowered their workforce on how to execute community-based methods in preparing and engaging communities in disaster preparedness. Congress has contributed to the emergency preparedness and response through enacting the 2002 Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Act, thus, encouraging agencies to improve on disaster preparedness (Gamboa-Maldonado, et al., 2012, p. 25).

However, this collaboration does not incorporate crisis intervention measures, which assist victims who may have experienced mental distress in the disaster. Some people are yet to recover from the 9/11 disaster due to a lack of crisis intervention measures. Crisis intervention is fundamental in offering short-term assistance and support to the affected individuals. For instance, many families who lost their loved ones during Hurricane Katrina had some of their members hospitalized due to trauma. They lacked access to crisis counseling, which was necessary to reduce the intensity of the crisis.

Agencies that deal in emergency preparedness should be fully supported to enable them to handle all types of disasters in the community workplace. According to Kapur and Smith (2011), emergency public health involves prevention, preparation, intervention, and recovery (xiii). Communities cannot afford to prepare for every impending disaster that may occur; yet, the EPR agencies claimed that they could not handle preventive measures. This leaves the communities with risks of being affected by controllable disasters. Given the complexities in planning and responding to emergencies, EPR agencies should train people on how to reduce vulnerability through applying tactics of the previous disaster

References

Gamboa-Maldonado, T., Marshak, H., Sinclair, R., Montgomery, S., & Dyjack, D. T. (2012). Building Capacity for Community Disaster Preparedness: A Call for Collaboration Between Public Environmental Health and Emergency Preparedness and Response Programs. (Cover story). Journal of Environmental Health75(2), 24-29.

Kapur, G. B., & Smith, J. P. (2011). Emergency public health: Preparedness and response. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.