To begin with it is necessary to mention that it is recommended that every county and every city should have the emergency response plan in order to be prepared for the hazards, catastrophes and calamities. The emergency plan has to deal with public health emergency services and with the rescuing teams, as well as police and firefighting brigades.
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It is claimed that thoroughly elaborated emergency response plan should entail eight core elements. These elements are closely linked with plan structure, principles of response and the cooperation issues. The elements are the following:
- System specific information;
- Emergency response roles and responsibilities;
- Communication procedures: Who, What, and When;
- Personnel safety;
- Identification of alternate water and food sources;
- Replacement equipment and chemical supplies;
- Property protection;
- Water and air sampling and monitoring.
For the cities and counties that already have the emergency response plan, the emergency resources should be used in the cases of public health emergency. The information triggering the emergency response action may be originated from different areas, however, the most probable resource of such information may be the World Health Organization notification. Anyway, the information may come from National Public Health Authorities, as it was during the SARS crisis. Finally, the response may be triggered by air-raid alarm and mass-media notification. Depending on the nature of the information received, the response should be varied; it may be either limited to actions by medical and communications staff, or extended to complete response, entailing all impacted spheres. (Cahill, 2003)
Description of the Existing Plan
In order to criticize the plan, first it is necessary to analyze all the main features of the plan, and give the brief description of the main points. The Emergency Response Plan of Raleigh, North Carolina entails the objectives in regard to the hazard response and recovery actions. This plan entails the training operations and development actions which are essential for ensuring the maximum efficiency of its employees in the performance of duties associated with disaster response and recovery. The plan is claimed to ensure the readiness of the emergency services for developing and performing the necessary actions and maintain the high qualification of the workers. It is emphasized (Johnson, Sullivan, Jones 2003) that Employees who have valid training needs, and who meet the course prerequisites are given the opportunity to participate in training and development courses.
Activation of the Plan
The department or the person responsible for emergency response launch receives the info that may require emergency response actions should instantly contact the Operations Control Director (or his / her deputy) who should in turn contact the executive members of the Emergency Response Team, as stated in the plan. The members of the executive team, and those who are responsible for the plan implementation are required to define whether the Emergency response plan should be activated. If the decision is positive, the team members and all the employees who are involved in the response actions should be personally notified. (Model Food Emergency Response Plan, 2006)
The powerful point of the existing response plan is not only the enlisting of the response actions, but also the possibility for training, and qualification improvement. The training courses are the following:
- Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Decontamination Procedures
- Explosive Safety
- Disaster Medical Operations
- Search and Rescue Methodology
- Natural Disasters
- Man-Made Disasters
- Weapons of Mass Destruction
- Sampling and Analytical Methods
- Other Key Topics as Required
The Emergency plan is arranged as the coordinated response by a number of agencies under the direction of the Emergency Control Group, and it is claimed that the triggering information for launching the response actions are the following: these are dangers of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident or an act whether intentional or otherwise, which, by its nature or magnitude (Rosner, 1999). These operations are quite different from the general and casual operations which are generally performed by the initial response agencies. The response actions entail the following hazards, which may occur in Raleigh: floods, tornadoes, blizzards, windstorms, transportation accidents involving hazardous materials, air or rail crashes, toxic or flammable gas leaks, electrical power blackouts, building or structural collapse, uncontrollable fires, explosions, epidemics, threat of any of the foregoing, or the combination of these calamities. This Plan presupposes the procedures under the manner in which city workers and other personnel will react for an emergency. Significant measures prescribed in the Act and which is the essential part of this plan are:
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- Expenditure of financial resources associated with the creation and implementation of the Plan;
- Authorization for municipal workers to take the required action before formal pronunciation and appearing of an emergency;
- Specification of the procedures which should be taken for safety and / or evacuation of population in an emergency area;
- Designation other responsible persons who may exercise powers and perform the duties and responsibilities prescribed by the plan during the absence of the initially appointed personnel or upon his or her incapability to perform their duties;
- Appointing of the committees and allocate workers to be responsible for revising the Plan in the case of necessity, training employees in their functions and implementing the Plan during an actual emergency;
- Obtaining and distributing materials, equipment and supplies during an emergency;
Identification of the training requirements, provided in the plan is not complex, however, the accurate and careful performance of the prescriptions. The following list entails the necessary indicating points for the training or development needs:
- Team Replacements or New Employees
- Performance or Safety Problems
- New Technology or New Equipment
- Mission Changes
- Continuing Education Requirements
- Regulatory Requirements for Training
- OSHA Directed Training
- Retirements or Reassignments
- Deficiencies Reported
- Manpower and Budget Cuts or Increases
- Team Member(s) Requests for Training
The Emergency Response Plan of Raleigh, North Carolina is featured by numerous strong points and is aimed at constant improvement of the recovery process. Originally, the response plan is the set of actions directed at the mitigation, prevention and recovery phases, while this plan essentially exceeds the standard concepts of emergency management. The launching plans are thoroughly elaborated and accurately described, as it is emphasized that the allover plan worth nothing if the response initiation system fails.
The plan pays too much attention for the improvement of the employees’ skills and qualification. On the one hand it is the essential task for successful response and the implementation of the plan without failures, however, more attention should be paid for the equipment preparation and the allover technical factor of the whole plan. Thus, there is strong necessity to incorporate the point, defining the schedule of preventive maintenance for the technical equipment.
As for the issues linked with the actions, which are required, there should be at least brief list of the actions which will be performed in the case of any calamity/. Originally, these actions are stipulated in the Statutes of the rescuing teams and the actions by emergency employees are strictly regulated by corresponding documents, aimed at regulating emergency activity of the medical care teams, rescuing brigades, police patrols, and fire fighting teams.
The weakest point of the plan is the monitoring process. Basically, it is not required is the teams are professionally prepared and everyone perfectly knows his o her duties. However, not everyone is ensured against mistake, consequently the response process should be thoroughly monitored. As for the recommendations for this process, it is necessary to mention that the plans of other regions presuppose mutual monitoring. Thus, employees monitor the actions by their team mates in order that they could capably provide advice, recommendations, and support to first responders regarding their safety and health.
The plan is created without mentioning the structure of the response process. Surely, if every component of the process is clearly aware of the required action, there is no necessity in the thorough structure. However, the structure is required for the flexibility of the plan and the visualization of the process in general. This would help find drawbacks and shortcomings of the plan and quickly remove them. Moreover, structure of the process is required for the flexible and thorough analysis of the process. Thus, the Emergency Response Plan without structure is difficult to adapt to for the circumstances.
The Emergency Response Plan of Raleigh, North Carolina is featured by numerous advantages and disadvantages. Originally, the main advantage is the existence of the plan itself, thus, the response will be. The planning of the response is arranges with sufficient level of accuracy and care, consequently, the response is intended to be timely and without crucial delays. It is necessary to mention that overall advantages of the plan make it extremely effective and may be regarded as the sample plan for those cities and counties who do not have one, or plan to improve the already existing.
As for the critics of the plan, it should be stated that the are some drawbacks, which may be easily removed, however, these lacking points may be crucial if there is strong necessity to adapt the plan, remove or replace components of the response process or if there is necessity to visualize the process.
Monitoring, plan structure, response actions are the factors which make the plan detailed and simple for adaptations, and these are the points which the plan of Raleigh, North Carolina lacks.
Cahill, K. M. (Ed.). (2003). Emergency Relief Operations. New York: Fordham University Press.
Ellmann, S. (2005). In a Time of Trouble: North Carolina. State of Emergency. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fitzpatrick, J. (2004). Human Rights in Crisis: The International System for Protecting Rights during States of Emergency. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Johnson, D. L., Sullivan, S. P., & Jones, G. W. (2003). A Survey of Emergency Response Planning as Practiced in Boiler/industrial Furnace Facilities Burning Hazardous Waste Derived Fuels. Journal of Environmental Health, 59(1), 12
Model Food Emergency Response Plan. (2006). Journal of Environmental Health, 68(10), 62.
N.C. Department of Labor (2005) “Division of Occupational Safety and Health State Emergency Management Plan” State Emergency Management Plan
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Rosner, G. (1999). The United Nations Emergency Force. New York: Columbia University Press.