- The Local Emergency Planning Committee in Arkansas is established by the Arkansas HAZMAT Emergency Management Act A.C.A. § 12-82-101 (2014)
- The Presidential Disaster Declaration is issued when a state is overwhelmed with a disaster. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5206 is the legal framework upon which the president bases the disaster declaration. The declaration follows a laid down procedure to ensure accountability and the respect for state disaster mitigation measures. The Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act describes the process a state is to follow if it wishes to request and obtain a presidential disaster declaration. The law also defines the assistance the federal government will provide in terms of type and scope. The law stipulates the conditions under which the federal government offers assistance.
The Governor of the affected state must make a request to the federal government if a presidential disaster declaration is to be made. The Governor’s request is made through the regional Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) office. A Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) is done by Federal and State officials to estimate the disaster extent and impact on individuals and facilities. The Governor’s request is usually accompanied by the PDA. The Governor must show that the disaster’s magnitude is beyond state capabilities to handle, and give an estimate of local resources used in tackling the problem as well as an estimate of the resources required to mitigate the disaster.
- NIMS refers to the National Incident Management System. The system contains principles and concepts, which guide the management of emergencies from preparedness up to recovery, irrespective of the disaster’s location, cause, size or complexity. Implementation of NIMS gives a foundation that enhances integrated preparedness as well as response and planning. NIMS enhances cooperation between different agencies and organizations, enabling their effective participation in emergency management and response. NIMS brings together public and private sector stakeholders under the same roof to enhance efficiency and reduce duplication of roles. NIMS has different components, which require compliance. The chart below is a summary of the components of NIMS and the compliance objectives
|Adoption Adopt NIMS for all private and public sector stakeholders; Establish mechanism for measuring and reporting on progress of adoption; Appoint NIMS liaison officer to coordinate cooperation; Ensure NIMS compliance objectives are met by all audits associated with Federal Preparedness Awards.|
|Resource management Ensure response assistance conform to NIMS definitions, and that data resources are interoperable. Ensure all emergency response personnel have the proper accreditation and clearance to access sites of incidents.|
|Command and management Incident command system (ICS) – ensure there is a unified command to oversee the management of incidences. Multi-agency coordination system (MACS) – coordinate response between all the stakeholders to ensure efficiency Public information – provide the necessary information during emergencies as well as collect factual information about incidences|
- the NRF has been updated to the National Planning Framework consisting of the response framework, the prevention framework, the mitigation framework and the recovery framework
- Building contractors must meet the safety requirements for disabled persons. This is because the requirements are not only legally mandatory but also part of the social responsibility of contractors.
Coordination within legal and political contexts
Disaster management occurs within a legal as well as political context. It is paramount that the disaster managers be acquainted with the legal framework guiding disaster preparedness, management and mitigation. The prevention and management of disasters needs a multifaceted approach. This is because there are varied agencies involved in the disaster response efforts. Therefore, there should be proper coordination between the various stakeholders involved in the response effort. It is interesting to see that the crazy county officials have no idea about the legal framework guiding emergency response efforts. This implies that they cannot initiate the necessary legal process to seek for help should the need arise.
McEntire and Dawson (2007, 58) state that to understand disaster management in the US, one has to remember that the country has a federalist constitution which influences the way the federal and state governments respond to disasters. Because of differences in the local and federal government approaches to disaster management, this can cause the disaster management effort to be unfocused. The presence of varied disaster management organizations and agencies is due to the decentralized nature of the US government. The organizations and agencies have different mandates and operate using different legal frameworks. This can cause an overlap in the work done by the bodies. Sometimes, the federal requirements for offering assistance conflict with local requirements. Therefore, states may not ask for federal assistance even when it is necessary, especially if the federal requirements are politically unpopular.
Consequently, some programs may not be implemented due to the friction between local agencies and the better funded federal agencies. Sometimes, states fail to get federal funding because they do employ the right people or spend sufficient funds to pursue and manage grants (McEntire &Dawson 2007, 68). Federal grants have unique limitations and eligibility grants. This implies that the emergency managers require an intimate knowledge of the laws governing the disbursement of federal funds if the state is to benefit from federal assistance in case of overwhelming disaster. For effective coordination to occur, disaster response managers need to know how local legislation agrees with or differs with federal legal requirements. This can help in designing ways to ensure that the affected persons obtain the best possible help without legal hindrance.
After disasters happen, there is a state of chaos as response efforts arrive. This can cause role duplication and a disorderly response effort. Buck et al. (2006) recommend the use of an incident command system (ICS) as a disaster management tool. ICS uses rational bureaucratic principles to guide the disaster management efforts. The system provides a framework of rules and practices governing the actions of the many agencies and organizations responding to a disaster. The ICS tries to bring order to an otherwise chaotic post-disaster environment. The ICS also facilitates the division of labor and coordination between the various disaster mitigation efforts. Managers must have sufficient legal knowledge if they are to formulate the ICS. Prior planning can help in identifying the agencies that can fit within the state legal regime and the compatibility with national jurisdiction.
The political context has a telling effect on disaster preparedness response and mitigation. Disaster managers must be ready for the political reality that shapes leaders’ decisions. The political leaders deal with a wide range of risks and the decisions they make are dependent on the prevailing political realities. There is also a change in the public sector as government outsources most of its functions to the private sector (Waugh n.d.). The terrorist incidents have also changed government attitude to that of suspicion towards the public. Therefore, obtaining the necessary information that is necessary for implementing certain decisions can be difficult. Emergency managers also need to be aware that government officials, as well as the private sector, is likely to be hostile to any disaster preparedness, response or mitigation initiatives that they perceive are likely to hinder growth.
Disaster managers must strike a fine line if they are to coordinate effectively response efforts. The successful disaster manager must be able to navigate the legal and political hurdles to deliver the required help to those who require it.
Coordination within ethical and social contexts
The new disaster manager is facing several ethical issues. The predecessor has left files that show that grant monies were not spent for the intended purposes. This raises an ethical dilemma course of action the manager should take. There is no suggestion that the grant money was used corruptly. There is a possibility that the grant monies were used to do some commendable work. The question is whether the new manager should stop this because that was not the intended purpose or should the manager continue overseeing the inappropriate use of the funds. The other ethical dilemma revolves around the impending disaster. After the state failing to implement timely mitigation measures, a storm is coming that is likely to cause widespread damage to property and life.
Due to time constraints and the scarcity of resources, a temporary wall can protect only one area between the sparsely populated but valuable wealthy estate and the densely populated but poor estate. A manager needs to make decisions about these ethical situations. Disaster managers frequently face ethical problems, as well as social considerations in their work. Therefore, disaster manager must take into consideration the ethical as well as the social context when designing emergency preparation, response and mitigation measures.
Hoffman (2009) states that vulnerable communities are often overlooked during and after disasters. Vulnerable communities, which include the financially disadvantaged seem to suffer the worst during disasters. This is because they do not have the emotional, financial and social resources that can help to mitigate that disaster. Disaster managers should have a list of such disadvantaged persons so that they can receive the necessary support during a disaster. Most of the economically disadvantaged persons tend to be from ethnic minorities who are segregated from society. Therefore, even during disasters, they may not receive support from the ethnic majorities. These people can not manage on their own, hence the need for the disaster manager to give them special consideration.
If the utilitarian ethical perspective is applied to situations, then, that solution that gives the greatest good to the largest number of people is the best. When disasters happen, there are many competing interests for the meager resources. Disaster managers need to make decisions on the best utilization of the available resources. At this point, managers should choose a course of action that assures the protection of the life of the largest number of people. Therefore, the manager should build temporary walls on the poorer part of town. This is because the area is densely populated and has many people, most of whom may be economically disadvantaged. Therefore, they may be unable to rebuild if they lose their property.
The coordination of disaster response, management and mitigation efforts occurs within the social sphere. Effective disaster management is dependent on how information is generated in three crucial stages – the recognition stage, the assessment and allocation stage and the feedback and evaluation stage. (Sobel & Leeson 2007). The information needed to manage disasters can be found within the society. However, this information is disparate and is held by different persons. The task of the disaster manager is to ensure that accurate information is available for ensuring that disasters do not get out of hand. Effective disaster management is reliant on the information obtained in each of the three stages.
Information obtained at the recognition stage helps in identifying whether an incident is a disaster or not. At the assessment stage, information is necessary for determining the extent of resources required, as well as the areas where assistance is needed most. Accurate information helps in the making of appropriate mitigation plans. At the feedback and evaluation stage, information helps in judging whether the intervention measures are achieving the states objectives. This will help in guiding the distribution of the available resources. In coordination within the social context, the challenge is to generate accurate information that can be used in disaster management.
Buck, D., Trainor, J. & Aguirre, B. (2006). A critical evaluation of the incident command system and NIMS. Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 3(3), pp. 1-27.
Hoffman, S. (2009). Preparing for disaster: protecting the most vulnerable in emergencies. University of California, Davis, 42(1491), pp. 1491-1547.
McEntire, E. & Dawson, G. (1991). The intergovernmntal context. In Emergency management: Principles and practice for local government Drabek, T & Hoetmer, G. (Eds). New York: ICMA Press.
Sobel, R. & Leeson, P. (2007). The use of knowledge in natural-disaster relief management. The Independent Review, 11(3), pp. 519-532.
William L. Waugh, W. (n.d.). Public administration, emergency management, and disaster policy. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact =8&ved=0CC4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Ftraining.fema.gov%2FEMIWeb%2Fedu% 2Fdocs%2FEMT%2FDisciplines%2520Disasters%2520and%2520EM%2520Chapter%2 520Public%2520Admin%2520EM%2520Disaster%2520Policy.doc&ei=NH8sU4a_EorK sgbVuIGgCQ&usg=AFQjCNFn0LPx-ZIyccY9yiKfUzAgoyOdcg&sig2=1rR- A0kE71Iz2-tlvVXtiA&bvm=bv.62922401,d.Yms