Crisis management is easily becoming a concern and priority because of the needs of the modern world. More than ever, there is advancement in technology. Technology can be used to assist prepare for crisis and to make them more manageable. Man made crisis can arise from disasters created by human activity like bombs or war equipment. They require preparedness so as to minimize or eradicate effects on society. Crisis from natural disasters like tsunami, volcanoes also require preparedness since even when they can be predicted, their effects can be quite extensive and hard to wholly avoid.
An earthquake of 8. 9 magnitude hit Indonesia, creating a tsunami that led to extensive costs in human life, buildings and finances. As a result, many countries accessed their crisis management systems so as to be prepared in future against such a disaster. Tsunami emergency management systems Due to the 2004 tsunami disaster, countries have amplified their systems for warning, planning and monitoring tsunami. TsunamiReady is such an initiative encouraging alliance between several sectors.
StormReady cites these sectors are emergency management agencies in the local, state and federal levels as well as the National Weather Service and general public population. The first task of the alliance is to create tsunami awareness among the population. More awareness will lead to better response. Concentration is on those who are more vulnerable, for example, those along the coasts who would be in direct line of a tsunami. An example is the Australian Tsunami Warning System that deals with exclusively with tsunamis. Governments have launched initiatives to assist in this.
In the UK, for example, the contingency planning outlines the management of a crisis from what constitutes a crisis, its declaration as a crisis, what follows after and the role of the various part in the management. In this case, a crisis is an occurrence within the UK threatening grave harm to the public wellbeing (Civil Contingencies Act 2004). It outlines the responsibility of the leaders and accountability. The programs responsible for tsunami crisis management are operated in coordination with Meteorology, Geosciences, and Emergency Management departments.
It is through this effort that communities can be served effective tsunami warnings. Information and knowledge gathered by individual countries is also contributing towards international establishment of regional Tsunami Warning System, for example, Indian Ocean Tsunami warnings, West Pacific tsunami warnings among others. These tsunami warning services provide 24hour analysis and monitoring of tsunamis. Documented seismic and sea-level networks are continually extended to facilitate efficient tsunami warnings. They are also actively involved in improving community tsunami training and education programs countrywide.
Governments have also set aside radio service that will be operational during tsunami crisis and the frequencies distributed to those at the coastline so that communication can be facilitated during threats of tsunami. National websites have been set for these areas for updates and warnings including tracking tsunami movements. In additional, toll free emergency telephone numbers for tsunami crisis have been set aside in many countries for the dispensation of information. In the America pacific area, tsunami threat is handled by the StormReady under Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Its one of the programs affiliated with TsunamiReady. It was created in Oklahoma USA in 1999. Its main goal is to assist communities increase safety and communication skills. These two skills are important before, during and after a crisis. StormReady (2010) assists those responsible for community wellbeing to reinforce local safety programs through more education and awareness and better planning. Interagency coordination According University of Defense ( 2003. p. 3) managing crisis effectively means a synchronized addressing of all spheres of a crisis.
The University of Defense (2003. p. 3) states that these spheres could be the political, diplomatic, economic, humanitarian or social. Without coordination in planning, operations and communication it is easy for responsibilities to be unmet because it’s unclear whose obligation it is. Interagency coordination also assists maximize efforts and avoid redundancy. When each agency concentrates on one area, another takes a different route and more service and help is offered to those in need.
Government role in a crisis Haddow et al (2008, p. 9) states that the government has a major role to play in helping its citizens prepare for crisis like the tsunami crisis. One of the best things the government can do is grant funding that will facilitate smooth running of emergency management services. Paramount in crisis management is education of its citizens, coordination of evacuation procedures and funding for recovery efforts. It is not easy to know the best way to respond to a threat when one does not know the nature of the threat. If a threat is from weather, the citizens need to know all the aspects that are involved and how to respond.
Education should aim to educate those who are especially vulnerable. For tsunami, all those on the front shores, coastlines, or are involved in marine life should be well educated as to proper response incase of a crisis. According to Haddow et al (2008, p. 101) The local communities on their part should seek to educate its local population before a crisis hits. They should ensure continuous education and that the local population is well knowledgeable on the crisis that are most likely to affect them and they are able to respond in an effective way incase of a crisis.
Practice should be used so that all members of a family, for example, know what to do incase of a crisis. The government should also ensure effective communication before, during and after a crisis. That way, it is able to give warning in time, communicate evacuation routes, assist with information during evacuation and offer necessary services in any aftermath. Some of the services that the government can offer during a crisis proposed by Haddow et al (2008, p. 105) are search and rescue missions, medical services and food provisions to survivors. The role of media in a crisis
The media tends to provide information fast. Due to modern technology, the media is able to relay information widely too. During the 2004 tsunami crisis, the local media coverage drew attention to what was happening. Although the tsunami was not expected, media worldwide was able to communicate the disaster and rescue missions were launched. This was one instance where the media really played a crucial role in dispensing information. Sommers et al ( 2006, p. 1) states that media raises awareness and can be challenging to authorities as was seen in the hurricane Katrina disaster.
It is argued that sometimes also becomes directly involved in the events as happened in New Orleans during the disaster. However, media can be discriminatory in its coverage. Even as media was creating tremendous awareness on the situation, its response was considered sluggish. In an ironical twist, racism was blamed for the slow response to the disaster by media even as the media blamed the government’s slow response on racism as Sommers pointed out (2006. p. 2). Sommers et al ( 2006, p. ) found that sometimes the media can also pick a spin on a crisis that might not be of most importance as long as it will give their news an edge.
This has been cited as what happened during hurricane Katrina where there was undue focus was on crime happening. Sommers et al ( 2006, p. 7) also argues that media is also prone to exaggerations especially in the heat of the making of a story as was also evident in hurricane Katrina coverage. Public perception during a crisis Public perception in crisis is largely influenced by information that the public receives.
This is because in most cases the public is far from firsthand information. If they receive erroneous information from the media or government, they will respond according to that. Sommers (2006, p. 8) found that in the case of hurricane Katrina crisis the emphasis on crime coverage may have greatly discouraged some individuals from rescue efforts and had potential to bias people outside that state. In the age of free media where overload of information seems like the norm, the role of responsible media coverage can not be over emphasized in the formation of healthy public perception.
While crisis are hard to deal with, the media can find itself pressured to create scapegoats when the public wants to allocate blame. In the case of 2004 tsunami many reports especially on the Internet tried to blame the victims, global warming, western countries and even God. It can sometimes feel easier to blame victims for what happens to reduce feelings of vulnerability in the general population as Sommers et al noted (2006. p. 9) Post crisis recovery and continuity strategies Post recovery and continuity plan are integral parts of managing a crisis.
The process of crisis management is not over until those affected are able to continue with their economic, social and productive life. According to research by Gartner (2001, p. 2) the economic aspect is especially imperative since it accelerates the recovery of businesses and thus peoples lives and their communities. Post crisis recovery strategies need to be in place before the disaster for best effect. It is necessary to set recovery objectives. Gartner cites one of the most important post recovery strategies as recovery of data and critical technology.
Loss of information is one of the hindrances to quick recovery. For example, businesses find it important to have human resource information so that it can facilitate services to its employees, for example, as they claim benefits. Another strategy is government funding and dispensation of emergency funds. Finances play a big part in the recovery process especially in rebuilding. Finances also facilitate businesses to begin their functions and rebuilding of communities can begin. Gartner (2001, p. ) states that in addition governments require financial institutions to continue their services in areas hit by crisis as a means of encouraging growth and to avoid disruption of economic endeavors. This was helpful after hurricane Katrina for example. Through policing peace and security are enforced to avoid lawlessness. Other human needs are addressed through various agencies offering humanitarian assistance that caters for social requirements. Doctors and counselors are especially helpful in dealing with the physical and psychological effects of a crisis.
Conclusion Crisis can come from human activities or through natural forces. It can be hard to anticipate them. Even when they are anticipated, it might not be easy to avoid their impact on communities. There is better preparedness today against crisis but at the same time, there are increasing threats to human wellbeing. While nature continues to threaten human wellbeing with better planning and execution of crisis management much of the effects can be reduced. Human threats like chemical warfare are best avoided and stringent measures put in place to reduce loss.
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