Emergency Preparedness Essay
Hurricanes are a frequent problem in the coastline of the United States, and they wreak havoc through storms, floods, high winds and tornadoes. My area, Miami also happens to be amongst the regions where there has been the most growth in terms of people living along the shore. Its location; being surrounded by oceans and low-lying coastal plains make it very likely for hurricanes to hit Miami. Florida Real Estate Area demographics indicate that the risk index of hurricanes for Miami Beach is almost seven times that of the national average (2008).
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The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 is famous for causing heavy casualties, displacement and financial loss, pushing this area into the Great Depression earlier than other states. The deadly hurricane Katrina started off from southern Florida, causing loss of life and property, before moving south and growing in intensity to become a grade 5 hurricane. Miami weather, being very tropical, sees a coinciding of the rainy and hurricane season, from June to September. Response to an emergency like this can be divided by the phases of the crisis that the intervention affects.
The Haddon Matrix of injury prevention and response can also be used here as it combines primary, secondary and tertiary responses with the government’s concerned departments’ roles for effective crisis management (Barnett, et al. , 2005). Pre-event measures include risk assessment, surveillance, planning and training. This includes checking for infrastructure, food and water supplies, insurance coverage, participation in drills and use of media to instill the importance of immediate response.
In the event of the crisis occurring, crisis risk communication through broadcasting warnings and pointing safe evacuation routes is important. Emergency access to medical supplies, shelter and transportation is crucial, and so is compliance by the community. Post-event, psycho-social impact of loss of life/home/finances has to be dealt with and lessons learnt from the last experience. With the growth in the number of people living on or very near the coastline at Miami, it has become increasingly difficult to evacuate them whenever there is a hurricane threat.
This delayed response due to lack of adequate roads and highways could potentially lead to greater loss of life despite timely warning. However, according to the Miami-Dade government website, new evacuation routes have been drawn that keep in mind hurricane patterns and surge (Evacuation Zones, 2009). Warnings and instructions broadcast over media during the event might not reach the people because of disruption of power-lines. This is why it is essential that an evacuation plan be ready and clearly understood in the pre-event phase.
People with special needs would need additional assistance to make it to safety, and are overlooked in the Haddon model. However, Miami has a County’s People with Special Needs & Emergency Evacuation Assistance Program (PSN/EEAP), special shelter locations are not disclosed to disabled people not registered with this program. Likewise, this County also has facilities for pets, with two pet-friendly hurricane evacuation centers. However, prior registration with complete health and vaccination records of the pet as well as the owner’s proof of residency is required to avail this facility.
Preparedness must extend to business operations as well, as this part of Florida is prone to natural disasters apart from hurricanes as well. It is up to the business owner to ensure that insurance coverage is present. Lastly, post-disaster management should focus on possible recovery or counseling for losses suffered by the people in terms of life, valuable, homes and jobs. As the Haddon model suggests, ‘post-event community trust’ in the public departments is necessary for compliance with physical and mental assessment and follow-ups after the disaster.
Post-traumatic stress and depression can be a long term complication, and psychiatrists, religious groups and volunteers all need to work together. In short, a team approach is needed (Kendig, 2009)
Barnett, D. J. , Balicer, R. D. , Blodgett, D. , Fews, A. L. , Parker, C. L. , & Links, J. M. (2005). The application of the Haddon matrix to public health readiness and response planning. Environ Health Perspect, 113(5), 561-566. . Evacuation Zones (2009). from www. miamidade. gov. Kendig, J. (2009). A team approach to preparing for hurricanes and other disasters. J Healthc Prot Manage, 25(1), 81-89.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 28 January 2017