The majority of emergencies, disasters, and other natural hazards do not have the borders. Moreover, the crises never occur at a convenient place as well as time. In most cases, the magnitude of damages and human suffering caused by the tragic events is enormous. Moreover, many spheres of human life and activities, especially health, housing, free access to food and water supplies, are severely affected. Because of the aforementioned reasons, it is vital to be perfectly ready and have effective emergency plans in place, so that destructive consequences for people as well as their assets can be mitigated. The primary purpose of emergency management includes avoiding numerous disasters that are usually subdivided into two main categories of natural and human-made. The given paper aims to determine and analyze four major disciplines of emergency management, including mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. In addition, the attention will be paid to definitions of the four disciplines, their close relations to disasters and community, and the abundance of resources needed to implement the four phases of emergency management.
Taking into consideration the definition of the term “emergency management” that may commonly be referred to as disaster management, it is important to note that the term means creation of plans with the purpose to minimize the vulnerability of community to various types of threats and disasters (Phillips, 2005). It should be emphasized that emergency management does not eliminate or avert different hazards. Instead, it concentrates on creating efficient plans to minimize dangerous impacts of disasters (Phillips, 2005). In other words, four disciplines of emergency management cover a large range of threats natural as well as human-made disasters (Phillips, 2005).
The researchers differentiate four major disciplines of emergency management that sometimes may be referred to as phases. Mitigation is the first discipline or phase of emergency management, which is the key element of national preparedness (“Mitigation: Emergency Preparedness”, 2012). The term “mitigation” is based on the actions of assessment of possible risks and negative consequences to human health and personal property and effective steps taken to decrease the effects of a disaster. At the same time, it should be emphasized that mitigation should be adapted to various types of natural disasters and man-made hazards (“Mitigation: Emergency Preparedness”, 2012). In addition, the researchers differentiate personal mitigative plans and large-scale mitigation measures that are applied on national and international levels. Mitigation deals with the opportunity to minimize the mortality rate and avoid enormous economic damages by decreasing the destructive impacts of a disaster. Mitigation is usually admissible before and after a natural or human-made disaster happens (“Mitigation: Emergency Preparedness”, 2012). Permissibility and effectiveness of mitigation after disasters may be explained by the fact that the cost of disasters always continues to rise and, consequently, requires sustained actions to eliminate long-term and damaging impacts on human health and the quality of life among victims of disasters. Furthermore, mitigation should be understood as a continuing activity that is tightly integrated with three other disciplines of emergency management in order to follow long-term and community-based approaches to mitigation (“Mitigation: Emergency Preparedness”, 2012). Finally, in order to increase the efficiency of mitigation, it may be accomplished by a hazard analysis that will result in a number of positive consequences. Mitigation and detailed hazard analysis assist in identifying the types of disaster in and around a particular community, the likelihood that a disaster will occur, and negative consequences of a particular disaster in terms of destruction, casualties as well as approximate costs of the recovery. Mitigation activities that strive for ensuring community safety are based on wide range of resources, including different tools and programs (“Mitigation: Emergency Preparedness”, 2012).
On the contrary to mitigation, preparedness is primarily focused on preparing equipment and defining procedures that may be used in case a natural or human-made disaster occurs (“Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation: UNESCO’s Role”, 2007). Preparedness, similarly to mitigation, is based on the main resources of equipment and procedures that should be followed in case a disaster happens. Emergency managers use equipment in order to minimize the vulnerability to natural or human-made hazards, mitigate possible impacts, and to respond more effectively in case of emergency. Due to the fact that it is almost impossible to mitigate against all situations that pose an increased risk, productive preparedness measures can assist in lessening the consequences of the remaining hazards (“Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation: UNESCO’s Role”, 2007). Engaging the business community and pre-disaster strategic planning are the most widespread logistical readiness activities ensured by the preparedness discipline. In general, preparedness involves entire “preparedness cycle” that encompasses a set of activities, especially planning, organizing, training of community, equipping, exercising, and, at last, taking corrective activities (“Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation: UNESCO’s Role”, 2007). The most common examples of effective preparedness plans are evacuation plans and emergency shelters. In addition, examples of well-thought preparedness activities may include the following processes. They include identifying the weaknesses of emergency management plan, interpreting information collected on the basis of vulnerability assessments conducted in the process of the prevention-mitigation phase, developing or modernizing appropriate processes and procedures, strengthening tight relationships with various community partners, reviewing roles and responsibilities, implementing professional training exercises, and, finally, coordinating available emergency management plans with state and local governments (“Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation: UNESCO’s Role”, 2007). Despite the abundance of resources at the phase of preparedness, the effectiveness of emergency preparedness is extremely difficult to measure. However, numerous assessment programs are created on local and state levels in order to measure the efficiency of preparedness. The phase of preparedness closely interacts with disasters and communities because it is aimed to develop reliable multi-hazard guidance against natural and human-made hazards in order to create disaster-resilient communities and, consequently, reduce the losses of human lives and damages of property (“Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation: UNESCO’s Role”, 2007).
According to the estimations of experts in the sphere of emergency management, the third discipline that is defined as response lays the main emphasis on a series of emergency operations conducted in order to save human lives and lessen damages of property (“Emergency Response Framework”, 2013). In other words, response concentrates on taking immediate actions that involve evacuation of potential victims of a disaster, providing food as well as water supplies, ensuring shelter, and restoring vitally important public services (“Emergency Response Framework”, 2013). In order to increase its effectiveness, response should begin immediately after a disaster occurs. It should be emphasized that timely and coordinated assessment of hazards and life-sustaining needs gives a chance for the emergency managers to prioritize different response activities, appropriately allocate scarce resources, and request for additional help from mutual aid partners, including numerous governmental agencies (“Emergency Response Framework”, 2013). The phase of response as well as mitigation and preparedness operate with help of main resources as different types of equipment, including evacuation techniques, and other tools that assist emergency managers in saving people’s lives and obstructing further damages (“Emergency Response Framework”, 2013). Throughout the response phase, the majority of efforts concentrate on deescalating the consequences of emergency and following accelerated plans towards recovery. Examples of the most widespread response activities are as follows: delegating roles and responsibilities, deploying available resources, following predetermined and well-developed emergency management plans. The analysis and assessment of the nature of mitigation, preparedness, and response, it is possible to stress that response is closely interconnected with two previous disciplines because it primarily involves putting preparedness and mitigation plans into action (“Emergency Response Framework”, 2013).
Recovery is the fourth phase of emergency management that is based on restoration of all aspects of the disaster’s negative consequences on community and “absolute return” of the local economy to the sense of normalcy (Baird, 2010). In other words, recovery is a long-term and ongoing process that aims at rebuilding communities so that victims of the disaster, including individuals, businesses, and organizations can return to their normal functioning. The major goal of the recovery process is to return diverse community systems and activities to normal. The fact that the majority of recovery activities should be concurrent or, in other words, should correspond to the response efforts is crucial in emergency management (Baird, 2010). Recovery is usually subdivided into two major categories that involve short-term and long-term recovery processes. Short-term phase that is commonly referred to as short recovery may last from at least six months to one year. Moreover, it includes delivering of a vast scope of immediate services to businesses (Baird, 2010). On the contrary, long-term recovery activities involve the following processes: restoring economic activities as well as rebuilding damaged community facilities and housing of victims. In order to achieve a degree of physical, economic, social, and environmental stability, the recovery phase may take several decades depending on the scope of negative consequences of a disastrous event. In addition, long-term process of recovery requires professional strategic planning and actions in order to address disastrous consequences of the event (Baird, 2010). According to the estimations of experts in the sphere of emergency management, investments in economic development capacity buildings are inevitable for immediate fostering of economic diversification (Castillo, 2011). Therefore, investments give the chance to attain sufficient amount of new resources, develop new partnerships, and adopt efficient recovery plans, tactics, and strategies. In addition, in order to combat damaging impacts of the event, communities should access and deploy a wide range of public and private resources with the purpose to enable effective and long-term economic recovery (Castillo, 2011). Having reviewed and analyzed the process of recovery and differentiated long-term and short-term processes of recovery, it is possible to infer that recovery consists of a vast scope of responsibilities in order to combat the consequences of the disaster and benefit the community. The most important tactics and strategies of recovery are as follows (Castillo, 2011):
- creation, development, coordination, and implementation of service as well as site-restoration plans;
- reconstitution and rebuilding of government operations and procedures;
- implementation of individual, private-sector, and, finally, effective governmental and public assistance programs aimed to promote restoration and accelerate rebuilding of housing;
- long-term care and professional as well as high-quality treatment of victims (Castillo, 2011);
- additional measures aimed to contribute to social, environmental, and economic improvements;
- assessment of the disastrous event and its consequences in order to identify lessons learned;
- post incident reporting activities;
- creation, development, and execution of plans with the purpose to mitigate the effects of possible future incidents (Castillo, 2011).
The four disciplines of emergency management include mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery, and defined the essence of the disciplines. Also, based on their contribution to the consequences of the disaster and impacts on community, it is possible to summarize that the four disciplines have direct connection to the community benefits. The four phases of emergency management aim to minimize the vulnerability of people to diverse natural and human-made hazards. In other words, four major components of emergency management are created and implemented to avoid a wide range of damaging social, environmental, and economic consequences, including high human mortality rates, damage of assets, and, finally, losses of revenues.