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Trends in Emergency Management

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The editors at Emergency Management Degrees decided to research the topic of:

Trends in Emergency Management

Emergency management is most simply defined as the discipline dealing with risk and risk avoidance.

Establishing the need...where we've been:
1803: First historical event in the evolution of emergency management. Congress passed an act to provide financial assistance to New Hampshire following a fire.
1934: President Roosevelt created programs that focused on emergency management, like the 1934 Flood Control Act.
April 1974: The Day of the Thousand Tornadoes. The National Emergency Management Association is incorporated in the District of Columbia after zuper Tornado Outbreak with 148 twisters impacts 13 states and takes 330 lives and injured 5,454. The impact caused creation of the Disaster Relief Act.
1979: Three Mile Island Incident. On April 1, President Jimmy Carter created FEMA.
1992: Hurricane Andrew hits South Florida causing widespread destruction.
September 11, 2001: As a direct result of the attack on the World Trade Center, the Office of Homeland Security was established through Homeland Security Presidential Directive 3.
2005: Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans and the failure in Emergency Management.

Where we are now, and are going: 21st Century Emergency Management
1. Disagreement still exists: are there more earthquakes, tornadoes and tsunamis as compared to the past? Are hazardous events are remaining constant?
But there is NO disagreement that:
a. Evidence indicates that there are more flooding episodes today and this type of hazard is occurring at rates and intensities and in places where they have never occurred before.
b. Climate changes will alter episodes of flooding and drought.
c. The increased presence and use of hazardous materials and reliance on computers is creating or will result in more technological disasters as time goes.
d. There is also a likelihood of a greater number of terrorist attacks in the future and these may be more devastating than the events on 9/11 - especially if they involve weapons of mass destruction.
e. New biological hazards such as SARS or Avian Flu appear to be present today as well.

The Importance of Emergency Management:
1. Industrialization, urbanization and demographic patterns are putting people at risk and/or decreasing the ability of certain individuals and groups to protect themselves.
2. Culture, government policies, bureaucratic politics, code enforcement, construction practices, business activities, weak emergency management institutions are increasing vulnerability.
3. Vulnerability is a significant contributing factor for the adverse impact of disasters. Without people, there can be no disasters, only natural hazards.
FACT: Although the loss of life resulting from disasters is down in the United States and in other industrialized countries because of better engineering techniques, warning processes and response operations, more people die in the poor nations of the world.
FACT: losses owing to natural hazards in the United States total over $1 billion per week.
Where we are:
1. Giving preference to hazards instead of vulnerability is a major error among scholars and practitioners
2. In light of the current political situation in many countries and the rising hatred for Americans and Western Societies among some Islamic fundamentalists around the world, we will probably experience terrorist attacks on a more frequent basis and possibly with greater impact and complexity.
3. At attack involving biological agents could kill thousands, hundreds of thousands or even millions of people.
4. A chemical release would be less deadly but even its resulting response would require specialized knowledge, equipment and personnel.
FACT: Consequently, response and recovery operations are likely to be more complex in the future because of the threat of terrorism, suggesting the need to make improvements in this area also.
FACT: For the vast majority of the population affected by deadly earthquakes or hurricanes, there is little or no effort to leave dangerous areas in an attempt to prevent a future recurrence of that type of disaster
There are no hazard free areas: If people are not confronted with earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes they will likely be dealing with drought, fires, ice or snow storms, traffic accidents, plane crashes, floods, workplace violence or other unpleasant events.
You can run, but you can't hide.
- Some people are unaware of the hazards that threaten them, their multiple vulnerabilities, and the potential negative effects
- Other individuals and groups downplay risk, even when disasters are immanent and warnings have been issued
- Citizens view disasters as Acts of God which cannot be controlled by human kind
- The public has fatalistic attitudes about disasters, thereby discouraging prevention and preparedness measures
- Leaders of communities have difficulty in justifying the benefits of mitigation when an event may or may not occur in the near future - or ever
- Public servants and government agencies often over-estimate their ability to deal with disasters.

Disasters can be reduced in quantity and in quality, but they can never be completely eliminated from human experience.
Trends in Emergency Management
1. The aim is to do all that is possible to reduce the factors that increase physical exposure to disasters, while also increasing the ability to withstand disasters and successfully respond and recover from them
2. Factors driving change in Emergency Management
a. changing demographics: the U.S. population is shifting south and west, areas vulnerable to hurricanes and earthquakes
b. an aging population: by 2030, 19 percent of population will be over 65 years old, and may need more emergency responders
c. the aging of the country's infrastructure: Bridges, railroads, highways, dams, the electrical grid - are all areas that have "an increased vulnerability."
d. The budget climate means communities must do more with less

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Emergency Response grant funding program aims to reduce suffering, disease, and death in countries affected by natural disasters and complex emergencies. Three areas of funding are:
1. Rapid-onset emergencies. Fast-track funding to address high-impact disasters. Within 24 to 48 hours, funding is approved to pre-vetted and selected partners who have the local and national capacity to respond effectively.
2. Slow-onset emergencies. Drought and famine are among the slow-onset emergencies addressed
3. Complex emergencies. Grants go toward basic relief support - including food, water, healthcare, and shelter - in conflict-ridden areas.