The article is aimed to examine what actions people can and should implement in an emergency. The emergencies are known to behold people unexpectedly: a fire, a storm, a flood, an explosion at the plant, the contamination of territory by radioactive substances, spilling, and evaporation of various poisons, road traffic accidents and many other catastrophes and natural disasters. Because of these dangerous situations, people can be seriously injured. Often, fatal accidents in the emergency situations are caused by the inability of people to defend themselves and each other as well as to behave appropriately while being in stressful situation. Everyone should be always ready for the urgent situation. One advice for those, who are linked to the potentially dangerous enterprises, or live in the areas often threatened by various natural disasters, is to create an action plan for the emergency. Different preparations can give one a chance to save someone’s life. The article refers to the protection of the population issues, and to the systems of preventive measures usually taken to eliminate dangerous situations. Further described measures have to be resolved in accordance to the international standards and, thus, can build a system of response to incidents.
The number of the natural and human-made disasters occurring in the world is becoming higher every year. Every time they are bringing death and suffering to the people, destroying the economy of the countries, and leaving detrimental effect on the environment. People around the world are trying to predict and to prevent the disasters, and when something happens, it is important to overcome it with minimal losses and later to repair the damage. Every country establishes special services that are aimed to deal with the urgent situations. Emergency response planning is carried out by two departments: the operating company, whose production site may be affected by the incident, and the local or state agencies that deal with off-site factors impact and provide services to the emergency organizations. Local action plan usually includes procedures to deal with the emergencies related to the emissions of hazardous materials. Off-site action plan provides detailed information on the personnel, responsible for specific actions and the main rules on implementing emergency procedures. The action plans in case of emergency should be simple and clear, with a well-organized circuit layout to avoid confusion, which is also amendable and able to provide the necessary compliance with legal requirements. Effective emergency response plans are usually developed basing on the identified risks that are understood by everyone. They are tested and constantly improving with the help of emergency response trainings. Therefore, this paper focuses on the ways and essential means of emergency response planning, as well as it is directed to find out the drawbacks it can possess.
Steps for Emergency Response Planning
Planning of the emergency response is aimed at conducting an analysis of potentially serious incidents that could have a significant negative impact on the functioning of the organizations and systems in the ‘normal mode,’ and at the development of preventive actions. It is necessary to identify any possible dangerous unforeseen events and in the framework of the planning organization to define the responding procedures to any emergency that may arise (Houston et al., 2015). There is a range of possible events that can affect the organization’s ability to continue its work in the normal mode: from the main supplier of financial insolvency, finishing any natural disaster (floods, earthquakes, etc.). When creating the plan of the emergency response, it is necessary first to evaluate, what measures and procedures have already been taken by reviewing documents and seeing what has been put into operation. What is more, to determine the essential steps to encounter a disaster and to plan efficient emergency response, it is necessary to be aware of the types of disasters. Generally, disasters can be divided into four categories: natural, artificial, deliberate, or accidental. In the United States, the most frequently occurring disasters are natural. Natural disasters are not caused by the actions of humans, so they are the most difficult to prevent (Houston et al., 2015). However, because of the majority of the natural disasters (e.g., weather related ones) are predictable, they should be the easiest to be prepared for. The first thing to do in the emergency is to warn people (Houston et al., 2015). During this phase, the emergency officials have the best opportunity to provide the public with disaster-related information. This stage also includes the initiation of the evacuation process or shelter preparations. The second phase of a disaster is the threat and impact phase. It is typically followed by the inventory, rescue, remedy, and restoration stages.
It must be emphasized that at the territorial level both, monitoring and forecasting system must work appropriately to create the information resources. Collected information is used to establish controls, to group forces and means, to provide the materials and technical means optimal nomenclature of rational allocation. Afterwards, everything must be delivered as close as possible to the places of a possible large-scale emergency (Houston et al., 2015). At this level, the basic legal and regulatory frameworks are formed for the implementation of measures to protect the population and territories, including regional, national, economic, and other features.
The Head of local administration on emergency situations has to provide an ongoing guidance and supervision of the implementation of the established programs and activities, aimed to prevent and elimination the crisis. Together with local authorities, the Head ensures the consistency of action plans and emergency response on their territory. Main functions of the administration include coordination of all aspects of the capacity to respond to emergencies. Head of Emergencies department coordinates all elements of local emergency response program, including the estimation of availability and readiness of forces and funds that may be required in case of emergency. What is more, he identifies and corrects the deficiencies.
Creation of a well-organized system, carried out within the framework of Emergency Response Planning, the estimation of the needs in human resources and equipment, the composition of the management bodies are the responsibilities of the relevant head of the executive authorities. Moreover, local governments, businesses, and organizations are also responsible for the security of the population of the region and for the safety of the personnel working on potentially hazardous enterprises. The direct management of works on the liquidation of emergency situations is represented by the forces involved in the process that was created by the heads of emergency response department. Depending on the scale of the accident, executive authorities, and local authorities, heads of the enterprises and organizations, or relevant committees for emergencies may be also involved in the process. (Houston et al., 2015). In some cases, the Government can appoint representatives of an emergency liquidation commission, and its chairman takes over the leadership of the resources engaged in emergency response.
What is more, the plans of emergency response may comprise the following points. First, it can be an analysis of the effectiveness of methods engaged in the protection of the population process. The staff of the emergency situations related to the pollution of the atmosphere and whole complex of proven organizational and technical solutions, as well as the progress of scientific and technical levels must be also analyzed (Webersik et al., 2015). Second, the justification of the quantitative criteria and methods of forecasting the development and consequences of possible emergencies should be included (Webersik et al., 2015). Third, the legitimacy of the principles of the establishment and effective functioning of the integrated production monitoring the emergencies is important. Four, the development of a systematic approach to the selection of the most effective methods of emergency response should also take into account the causes of formation of the technogenic risks, their development, and possible consequences. In addition, the optimizations of organizational and technical solutions that are aimed at protect workers and the public in case of possible emergencies must be implemented.
Why Plans Fail
Although many jurisdictions have adopted formal plans in case of disaster, local governments often fail to improve their plans, even after a major catastrophe has occurred. Local governments sometimes fail to adequately and effectively plan for emergency response (Webersik et al., 2015). These failures can often be attributed to the lack of relevant experience in the work with disaster response, inability to carry out a disaster-planning program, or to the performance of the wrong kind of planning. Many communities are not able to deal with disaster because their public officials are not experienced enough (Di Floristella, 2016). There is often the misconception that responding to a disaster is the same as responding to any other emergency, only on a larger scale. Another impediment to planning is that although an individual may have been involved in disaster response elimination, it is difficult to view the disaster from the perspective of other organizations.
An integral part of a response plan is to ensure that an emergency or disaster does not occur. In fact, that is the measure of success of any emergency response plan (Di Floristella, 2016). Of course, it is impossible to prevent an emergency arising out of a natural disaster such as an earthquake or tornado. Nonetheless, when it comes to the forest fire, chemical leak, or even violence at workplace, such incidents can be avoided (Houston et al., 2015). However, sometimes, even after precautions have been taken, disasters can occur. Hence, emergency response plans should first identify potential risks; rank or evaluate them, plan the reactions; monitor potential risks; and ensure that employees are trained to handle such situations.
Successful disaster planning must have the support of the entire community. The lack of public awareness can often undercut the community’s efforts. Moreover, key officials often neglect to read carefully the emergency plans. Even after a plan is written, it is usually not properly exercised that may often result in failure of the plan during a true disaster.
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Emergency Response Plans in Some Emergency Cases
Relevant authorities are required to inform everyone about the state of protection of population and territories from environmental emergency and they often do it through mass media, or other channels.. They must also inform people about the safety measures, and methods to protect themselves from the injuries (Webersik et al., 2015). Concealment, untimely of misleading submission, false information in the field of protection of population and territories entail prosecution in accordance with the applicable law.
In case of fire, it is obligatory to utilize extinguishing agent appropriate for the type of adjoining fire and to move containers from fire area, but only if you can do it without risk. What is more, it is important to apply the damaged cylinders, which should be handled only by specialists (Webersik et al., 2015). In case of spill or leak, it is significant not to walk through the spilled substance. It is also paramount to stop the leak if there is an opportunity to do it without a risk for human life (Webersik et al., 2015). In addition, it is necessary to use water spray to reduce vapors or divert vapor cloud drifts, but to avoid the contact of water with the spilled material.
The first aid is also a very important aspect during the emergency response. In cases of emergency, it is important to move a sufferer to fresh air, then to dial 911 or urgent situation medical service. It is paramount to apply the artificial respiration techniques if the victim is not breathing; manage oxygen if the process of inhalation is complicated (Webersik et al., 2015). Finally, it is vital to keep a victim’s temperature on a normal level. It is necessary to ensure that medical workers are aware of the type of hazardous material(s) and take safety measures to protect themselves.
An emergency response plan should also include a post-disaster counseling of employees. This can be done through the regular counseling sessions, relaxed work hours, monetary support, day care facilities, and additional medical packages. Subscribing to an emergency alerts system also helps in effective disaster management (Houston et al., 2015). Every state has a national public warning system that delivers important emergency information, including weather information related to specific areas (Di Floristella, 2016). Emergency alerts service also gives a possibility to send alert message with the location details and to inform response teams, who are equipped to handle such situation. Hence, emergency response ensures that people obtain a chance to act fast without panicking in cases of the emergency.
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Coordination of Emergency Response Activities
The emergency response operation depends on the size of the critical situation for several reasons. It can be a question of tactics, resources, command, and responsibility aspects. The difference between small and large emergencies can also be considered from a psychological and social perspective (Webersik et al., 2015). In the event of a major emergency, where the large resources are involved collectively, a social dynamics are set in motion, which also affects how individuals feel and behave themselves (Merchant et al., 2015). During an emergency or under severe stress different people can be affected in different ways and are in need for different forms of assistance. For example, there are direct victims and indirect victims. The first group is comprised of the fatalities; physically injured; survivors and physically uninjured individuals. The second group consists of people with specific responsibilities, working in the incident area; relatives and friends of the dead and survivors, people nearby, fellow passengers, work colleagues (Webersik et al., 2015).
Reactions among Different Individuals and Groups
Women and children are traditionally seen as the most vulnerable group during the emergencies and crises. There is a wide variety of literature on the reactions of children and families with children in emergency and crisis situations. However, the researches into the role of women are fragmented. There is an increased focus on the vulnerability related to social circumstances and cultural factors and this theme is beginning to take a form as a specific field.
Critics point out that the researches on differences demonstrated by men and women within crisis and disaster have seldom been analyzed from a gender perspective. However, some of the differences that are well documented in research literature are now summarized. For example, women assume risks to be greater; women are more likely to believe in warnings and listen to the pieces of advice from experts and authorities; women are more disposed to plan for evacuation and to evacuate earlier. Men and women have different reaction models when faced with the same event: evacuation or removal has a more destructive effect on a woman’s support network, while men are more often engaged in the physical rebuilding process (which gives clear result feedback). In addition, women are more often involved in the emotional support measures (less clear feedback) and they tend to suffer from stress following a disaster or crisis.
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Interpretation of these differences is the subject of lively debate among contemporary researchers. Socio-economic theory is focusing on gender related differences, where women in many societies comprise a socially and economically weaker group. Other theories are focusing on the socialization process within a society, which means men and women are raised to cope with crises and difficult situations in different ways. An alternative method of interpreting social factors consists in the emphasizing of social roles and the differences in exposure to various types of stress (Webersik et al., 2015). In most societies, women are responsible for the household, children and everyday tasks that is why they are also more susceptible to certain types of emotional strain in connection with disasters.
State and local governments must be able to respond effectively to hazardous materials transportation, as it is a part of their obligation to protect the health and safety of the public. Local police officers are usually first at the scene of an accident and have a primary responsibility for public safety (Webersik et al., 2015). Their skills in handling the accidents determine the impact that accident will have on those in the immediate vicinity and on the community at large.
Emergency equipment is generally known to be the essential protection and resistance. The tools, which are applied in the course of emergency, must be adapted to certain situation, so that they have to be made of materials that are opposed to the hazardous substences. Also, they must guard those areas and functions of the human body susceptible to the peril (Webersik et al., 2015). The development of emergency tools standards, purchase recommendations, and equipment training programs by a national body, the Federal Government, or professional associations, would provide local crisis responders with a body of knowledge to make accurate and informed decisions.
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People get nervous in situations that are believe to be either dangerous or threatening our lives (Webersik et al., 2015). Hence, the threat to the life is not often looms on the horizon of ordinary people. Such aspects as a fear to fail or to choose the wrong way make us nervous. Therefore, in order to stop being stressed, it is necessary not only to put in order the nervous system, but also to understand the nature of nervousness. The security of population and territories from the technogenic and natural disasters is established within the system of organizational, technical, biomedical, financial, economic, and other measures in order to prevent and respond to the emergencies. These measures are implemented by Central and local Executive authorities, local self-government bodies, appropriate forces and means, enterprises, institutions and organizations irrespective to the forms of ownership and management, volunteer groups, aimed at protection of population and territories, material and cultural values and the environment (Webersik et al., 2015). Liquidation of the disaster is a set of rescue operations aimed at saving lives and preserving human health. They are also directed to decrease the size of harm caused to the natural environment and material losses, as well as actions of the confining zone of the environmental disaster.
In conclusion, during the liquidation of the emergency, the following events are of the utmost importance (the list can be refilled with more and more items): termination, suspension, restriction of environmentally harmful activities of enterprises, constructions and other hazardous objects located in the zone or outside of it. In addition, the restoration works in the natural environment (such as land reclamation, forest regeneration, elimination of places of burial of wastes, etc.) are also necessary. What is more, it is important to remember about compensation of the harm caused to health of citizens that must be implemented through the issuance of financial compensation and the establishment of additional benefits, and other outputs, depending on the type of environmental emergency.