The aspects of the state emergency and disaster response and management are very critical for any nation, as their rational development and support grant the maintenance of state, population security, and well-being. The issue of disaster response and management is the domain of different institutions and agencies that work at different levels. These agencies may specialize in a specific threat or provide a comprehensive assessment of different weaknesses as well as provision and control of the use of human and material resources. However, the availability of a widespread system of agencies that focus on the disaster response and management does not grant their adequate functioning. For instance, some of the institutions may interfere with one another during a disaster response initiative whereas others may fail to follow the requirements of the federal emergency and disaster response agencies.
The performed analysis of the current disaster research needs in the US demonstrates that the country typically or occasionally faces different challenges that prevent the national framework of emergency and disaster response and management from adequate functioning. The performed literature review of the academic sources that investigate the problem of the functioning of disaster response and management in the US approves that the national system of emergency and disaster response and management has different flaws. Ranging from an irrational distribution of financial and working force to the ineffective cooperation and teamwork, these issues are the main challenges to the achievement of the effective work between different disaster management agencies. Therefore, the main challenges the national system of emergency and disaster response and management faces are not natural or man-made disasters but the failure to create a well-functioning framework that utilizes collaborative disaster response strategies. For the above-mentioned reasons, it is crucial to analyze the issues connected with the aspects of disaster response and management in the US, assessing the current disaster research need.
Background and Problem Statement
The analysis of the current sphere of the state emergency and disaster response and management system leads to the understanding that it experiences different problems, which prevent its adequate functioning. Apparently, this issue is supported by different primary agencies, independent informational sources, and other stakeholders. For instance, the representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) state that the modern national initiatives in the sphere of disaster research and management are irrelevantly directed to the satisfaction of special needs of the agencies (Trainor & Subbio, 2014). This fact is characterized as a problem because these agencies are required to meet their functional needs for successful disaster research, response, and management (Trainor & Subbio, 2014). For example, the abovementioned organizations at the local and state levels typically face a problem of the implementation of different regulations, as the legal frameworks associated with the disaster management may contradict each other. Similarly, experts report that the governmental and non-governmental agencies work together for finding the places for shelters in the case of disaster but often fail to follow the federal guidelines that people with disabilities have equal access to these places (Trainor & Subbio, 2014). Thus, the problems with regard to the disaster response and management agencies in the US have a complex nature due to the presence of various stakeholders as well as their different legal, economic, functional, and other statuses.
The contemporary system of emergency and disaster response and management in the US requires reorganization due to the fact that it faces various problematic issues at the systemic and functional levels. First, the primary disaster response agencies at the local, state, and federal levels require a direct communication framework and a universal protocol that accurately defines actions, obligations, and responsibilities of each party in the case of emergency. Second, each organization has to provide an individual plan of disaster recovery and management and reserve allocation for the resource providing organizations to offer relevant supply. Moreover, the disaster management organizations should base their actions on the cooperative grounds, which allow different peers to work together without interference. Finally, the agencies have to use the modern digital media for the spread of disaster preparedness information that makes it possible to avoid specific issues or increase the efficacy of collective mitigation of their consequences. In case the main points of this problem statement are considered by the responsible organizations, they would increase the efficacy of disaster preventing and mitigating initiatives.
The review of the scholarly resources devoted to the analysis of the national system of disaster research, response and management approves that it has specific drawbacks that require mitigation. Barbera and Macintyre (2014) have claimed that the presence of different agencies at the disaster site cannot grant the efficacy of their mitigation and recovery. Specifically, analyzing the events of 9/11 and other terroristic attacks, the scholars state that the members of some disaster management organizations acted as if they were superior to others that increased the overall confusion. For instance, the major oversight was associated with the public health agencies that were interfered by the activity of the FEMA specialists, who were blamed for preventive medicine oversight (Barbera & Macintyre, 2014). Thus, the failure of the teams of different agencies to collaborate during response initiatives is one of the grave issues they face so far. During the recent decades, a variety of disaster response management agencies practiced an approach of a collective response, but they failed to validate it due to the absence of a universal plan of action (Barbera & Macintyre, 2014). For this reason, experts advise to take into account protocols, role-based teaming, differentiated communities of practice, and practice active knowledge sharing instead of focusing on tensions on professional roles (Boin & Bynander, 2015). Therefore, the system of disaster response and recovery requires a range of universal and local protocols that describe the role of each agency when responding to emergency.
Furthermore, scholars claim that the national system of disaster response has systemic flaws, which prevent its parties from relevantly mitigating natural disasters in particular. For example, Wex, Schryen, Feuerriegel, and Neumann (2014) argue that typically rescue units and the activists of other emergency management agencies are allocated and scheduled inefficiently. The scholars claim that this problem is rarely addressed in the modern literature, although the issue analyzed by them leads to severe losses associated with the management of natural disasters. For this reason, the plans of various disaster response agencies have to discuss the adequacy of allocation of the human and material resources in order to increase the efficacy of the provided assistance (Wex et al., 2014). At the same time, the problem of unit allocation is not the only issue that experts identify as the modern challenge the system of homeland disaster management agencies faces.
One of the modern problems recognized by the experts, who analyze the efficacy of the domestic disaster response teams, is the underestimation of the potential of digital technology and media. For example, Houston et al. (2015) claim that a variety of agencies specializing in disaster and response fail to recognize the fact that they can produce and distribute social media content for improving public awareness of different man-made and artificial threats. Using the benefits of the social media, these agencies could have obtained access to the population of their districts and states more quickly than informing it using the traditional sources. In this sense, experts state that the benefit of the social media is that it may increase the audience of the users, who find disaster preparedness information unintentionally, but the agencies typically fail to use it (Houston et al., 2015). Thus, various disaster response teams have to actively spread disaster preparedness information using the advantages of the contemporary digital media to increase the level of national awareness of and preparedness for different disasters.
Finally, experts agree that the main problem associated with the efficacy of disaster management teams in the US is their failure to perform their duties when coordinating and collaborating with other peers. An important fact to consider is that the lack of coordination between different agencies is a universal feature revealed in such countries as the US, the UK, China, and others (Boin & Bynander, 2015). The major reason is that the agencies and organizations stick to the use of traditional means of distribution of information. However, these traditional means of communication have a limited applicability in high-velocity environments such as a disaster incident (Boin & Bynander, 2015). Accordingly, these agencies should enhance their communicative means along with having disaster preparedness plans, with rapid communication channels being preliminary discussed and organized (Boin & Bynander, 2015). This aspect of organizational planning would ensure adequate and rapid communication between different local, state, and federal agencies, enabling their collaborative participation in the process. Consequently, the central theme addressed by the scholars is the failure of disaster management teams to cooperate and communicate whereas some of the sources indicate that they use outdated means of distribution of information.
The modern system of the state emergency and disaster response and management in the US requires improvement. The causes for this need are numerous ranging from inadequate resource planning to the failure of communication between the departments. The analysis of the scholarly literature approved the presence of this problem whereas scholars offer different solutions for mitigating the major drawbacks of the system of emergency and disaster response and management. The main drawback of the contemporary system of the homeland emergency and disaster response is the absence of universal and local protocols that discuss the roles of the organizations during the incident response. For this reason, they fail to work collaboratively, as different clashes and disorganization emerge. The agencies tend to use traditional means of communication that cannot grant rapid distribution of information during emergency. The disaster management agencies fail to use the social media for increasing the population preparedness. Therefore, the mitigation of the problems in the identified areas would allow the state emergency and disaster response agencies in the US to increase the efficacy of their work.
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