When a distress call comes and someone needs your help you, as the person in charge of a department related to disaster management, are tasked with formulation of a response on how you can help or contain the impending or the ongoing disaster. Thus, it is very important to have good communication and coordination for the disaster to be managed successfully. Most of the times, many people overlook the need to have a coordinated system as most assume that a disaster may never occur to them. The people involved in both ends of the spectrum needs to find a way of communicating so as to enable the disaster manager to plan for the best mitigation processes. As Hicks (2006) states, “The problem is that many business and industrial sites engage in emergency planning without the inclusion of the emergency responders.”(p6) The lack of involvement as has been experienced in the past has led to reduced communication and coordination in cases of disasters leaving manageable crisis destroying property worth millions and losses of lives in some situations. To control and avoid the re-occurrence of disasters due to low (or none) communication and coordination experienced in the past within the country, the president saw the importance of every party involved working together and thus issued a directive to the formation of NIMS as developed by the Department of Homeland Security.
The ICS Model: (Incident Command System)
Back in 1971 the state of California was faced with issues on how they could coordinate in the issues of wild land fire fighting and thus they developed the ICS model. They created an organization by the name of FIRESCOPE (Firefighting Resources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies). The organization covered essential requirements in managing the problematic incidents by creating a team effort with the aim of solving problems that may arise in the future. The ICS has been refined, improved, and adopted in the other American states but its basic goals have always remained the same.
NIMS Model: (National Incident Management System)
This a system that provides a national platform to enable all the concerned stakeholders be it the federal, state, country or even the village private and non private sectors work together in an effort to respond, prepare or even prevent a disaster regardless of the nature of the disaster itself (Naake, 2003).
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The main goals of NIMS as stated by Hicks (2006) were to “Make standardized procedures, planning, training, and exercising; qualify emergency personnel; make communication systems and procedures interoperable and establish information and communication technologies.” (p6) The above systems have helped in adding accountability, transparency and systematic coordination among the relevant departments in the United States in case of occurrence of any disaster.
The Advantages of Communication and Information Management Systems:
Since the communication language is the same it ensures consistency in the response thus helping business or other parties that may be in need of help recover fast as it allows them to communicate their problems and concerns at all the necessary levels.
When communication and coordination is integrated, the responding departments will manage the disasters in a way that reduces interruption of the business, time for recovery and also the recovery costs will be minimal preventing incurring of big losses. The ICS and the NIMS systems also enhance greater efficiency as they are specifically designed to direct and coordinate efforts in the event of a disaster or a crisis of any type. The coordination among the different departments for example in case of fire, a quick response from the cops, the medics and the fire fighting department within a state can help save lives and salvage properties in the verge of consumption by the fire. Thus, by using similar language terminologies, the involved parties are able to respond and understand the needs of the other parties thus a quicker action is taken to control the disaster.
Management of Resources
The coordination and oversight of equipments, procedures, and required systems that usually provide the disaster manager with timely and enough resources during an incident is all resource management entails during disaster management. The procedure involves describing, recording, requesting (if not available), and keeping a close eye on how the resources are used before, during, and after an incident. The improved communication system also allows for faster mobilization, allocation, use and recalling of some of the needed resources during a crisis while at the same time reducing the time needed in accessing any required aid and assistance resources. It is a very important task as it can make or destroy everything involved.
Multi Agency Coordination
The combination of equipment, personnel and procedures among other processes into a common system that allows the integration between the local and even the state emergency units in case a crisis occurs and external assistance is needed is a major benefit of the ICS/ NIMS systems. Coordination of activities and prioritization of demands needed or competing made by the distress callers is another major advantage. The multi agency coordination also enhances in the identification of future resources that may be needed in managing a disaster and also strategic coordination among the states, tribes, and even the countries (FEMA, 2004).
Disaster management is a major issue that need to be looked into although most of the times people overlook it. With the increasing risks of disasters occurring, for example, due to fire or terrorism activities we can conclude that the United States of America authorities have been looking into this matter as can be evidenced by the introduction of the ICS and the NIMS systems, which aid in communication and response between the respondents and disaster managers. If these two tools are used effectively, disaster management will be an easy task as there will be increased communication and coordination among the involved departments.
FEMA. (2004). National Incident Management System (NIMS): An introduction. Retrieved November 18, 2010 fromhttp://training.
fema.gov/EMIweb/downloads/NIMS-Self-Study%20Guide.pdf Hicks, J.
M. (2006). Introduction and Coordination of NIMS with our Business Community. Retrieved November 18, 2010 fromhttp://www.usfa.dhs.
gov/pdf/efop/efo38714.pdf Naake, E. L. (2003). National Incident Management System (NIMS) Guide for county officials. Retrieved November 18, 2010 fromhttp://www.nema.ne.gov/content/nims/nims4counties.pdf