Preparedness takes the form of plans or procedures designed to save lives and to minimize damage when an emergency occurs. This is a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluation and improvement activities to ensure effective coordination and the enhancement of capabilities to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the effects of natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters. These activities ensure that when a disaster strikes, emergency managers will be able to provide the best response possible. Disasters are caused by gale force winds, floods, releases of deadly chemicals, fire, ice, earthquakes and other natural and man-made hazards. When disaster strikes, the best protection is knowing what to do.
In the preparedness phase, emergency managers develop plans of action to manage and counter their risks and take action to build the necessary capabilities needed to implement such plans. Common preparedness measures include:
- communication plans with easily understandable terminology and methods.
- proper maintenance and training of emergency services, including mass human resources such as community emergency response teams.
- development and exercise of emergency population warningmethods combined with emergency shelters and evacuation plans.
- stockpiling, inventory, and maintain disaster supplies and equipment
- develop organizations of trained volunteers among civilian populations. Professional emergency workers are rapidly overwhelmed in mass emergencies so trained, organized, responsible volunteers are extremely valuable. Organizations like Community Emergency Response Teams and the Red Cross are ready sources of trained volunteers. The latter’s emergency management system has gotten high ratings from both California, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Another aspect of preparedness is casualty prediction, the study of how many deaths or injuries to expect for a given kind of event. This gives planners an idea of what resources need to be in place to respond to a particular kind of event.
Emergency Managers in the planning phase should be flexible, and all encompassing – carefully recognizing the risks and exposures of their respective regions and employing unconventional, and atypical means of support. Depending on the region – municipal, or private sector emergency services can rapidly be depleted and heavily taxed. Non-governmental organizations that offer desired resources, i.e., transportation of displaced homeowners to be conducted by local school district buses, evacuation of flood victims to be performed by mutual aide agreements between fire departments and rescue squads, should be identified early in planning stages, and practiced with regularity.
Preparedness links include: