Emergency Preparedness — Response And Recovery Efforts

Farrukh Khurshed
Apr 12 · 4 min read

When everything is peaceful and pleasant nobody knows how hard disasters could strike. It is at this time where emergency aid, nonprofit organizations and volunteers could be seen as key players providing help, food and medical facilities to the affected folks. During emergencies, hospitals, emergency response teams, food banks, animal shelters, and the sort have to work together synergistically to be the most efficient and effective.

Disasters, whether man-made or by nature, take place all of a sudden and as such leave very little or no time to respond to properly to minimize the scale of destruction. Therefore, the need for proper planning and time invested into ensuring emergency preparedness is critical to combat disaster strikes. Mr. Cameron Waldner, the CEO of Volunteer Houston, has been actively engaged in response and recovery efforts after the Hurricane Harvey hit hard. The following article focuses on response and recovery efforts based on his observations and practical experiences.

So, What Is Disaster Preparedness?

Disaster preparedness could be defined as the preventive measures taken to minimize the severity of a disaster and its effects. The aim of disaster preparedness is to lessen the impact of disasters on vulnerable folks, to get organizations, public and private institutions ready for an influx of rescue and respond activities. Besides, designing a coordinated rescue plan that could mitigate the wastage of resources, time and efforts is critical during an emergency situation. Proper disaster preparedness has a great potential to help save lives and property during the time of need. It is also very helpful to return the affected folks back to their normal life as quickly as possible.

The Role of Volunteer Managers In A Disaster

The volunteer manager collaborates and consults with the local governments, the federal government (if possible) and with nonprofit organizations to reach affected population in providing them with necessary medical aid, food and potable water to minimize the loss caused by the disaster. Mr. Waldner is of the opinion that the main objective of a Volunteer Manager is to be the liaison between organizations involved. He or she must be in a position to be able to sit together with Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) to tackle the issues at hand.

Keeping in mind the importance of VOAD, it is extremely important to adopt a culture of such relationships even in a pre-disaster period. The horrendous aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in this regard serves as a wakeup call for the need for cross-sector coordination and collaboration. The great loss incurred during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was an outcome of lacking in coordinated rescues and recovery efforts. The failures highlighted the importance of strong communication and preparation before a catastrophe hits.

Measures To Adopt In Disaster Preparedness

In order to prepare well before disaster hits, it is important to document past experiences and learn from them. All organizations should prepare and ready staff who are capable to handle emergency situations and be able to help in the response and recovery when disaster strikes. The job may seem to be time-consuming but it is much better to be prepared in advance than to suffer in time of need. Here are some important points that need to be considered while going for the above-said preparedness for disaster.

Business Continuity Plan

Business continuity plan may be explained as a comprehensive plan to restructuring an organization’s best practices so that the organization could function as successfully after the disaster as it was before the disaster hit. The said plan will help the organization to function before and after the disaster with the same efficiency providing the best humanitarian services to the community.

Define Your Nonprofit’s Objectives

While drafting your continuity plan, set out with a reason as to why the plan is relevant and important to your organization, the target community, and to your own mission. It will help your organization realize where their role begins in case of a disaster and in post-disaster response and recovery efforts.

Disaster Preparedness Content Sharing

According to Mr. Waldner, an organization is supposed to have all the relevant disaster preparedness documents ready to be shared through the website. He said that all the relevant disaster preparedness information should be shared via social media because the data will be safe in case the organization’s office is destroyed by the disaster.

Planning For Volunteers

If you have a nonprofit organization run by volunteers, then you have to train your volunteers in advance to meet the needs of the disaster preparedness. Proper training and development in this field can be of great assistance to save lives and property loss during and after the disaster hits.

Whatever the disaster may be; flood, hurricane, tornado, fire or domestic terrorism, being properly prepared can help us ward off at least some of the chaos and horror that could come with them. A properly written and documented disaster plan is critical for the survival of all staff in an organization. Efforts must be taken to continually revisit and improve these emergency plans, where possible to ensure its effectiveness. I hope this article has been beneficial and stay safe.