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Resiliency Helps Communities Recover after Mass Casualty Incidents

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By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Mass casualty incidents and the ensuing chaos are complicated to manage. There needs to be a definite correlation between what resources are available and the seriousness of the injuries.

Policies and management systems like the Incident Command System certainly help to facilitate the overall coordination of a mass casualty incident. After every incident, there is usually an investigation and an after-action report that details the lessons learned. Emergency managers use this vital information to strengthen their emergency plans. As a result, many plans have improved greatly over the years.

Mass Casualty Incidents Also Impact an Entire Community

Managing mass casualty situations, however, goes beyond initial emergency actions because these incidents also affect the community at large. That is one reason why we need to look at other issues within the community.

For example, emergency managers should look at what the community could have done differently to better prevent the incident. There is often much more to a mass casualty event than just the incident itself, such as determining the contributing factors that precipitated it.

Social scientists should look for those factors within the community to better understand how and why these tragic incidents occur. With their help and expert research, community resiliency can be strengthened considerably.

Lessons from Mass Casualty Incidents Should Be Incorporated into Future Emergency Management Plans

With mass casualty incidents – whether accidental or intentional – occurring so frequently these days, emergency personnel as well as local government officials need to incorporate into their emergency management plans the various lessons learned from previous incidents.

In addition, it is important to incorporate concepts like adaptability into training for and management of mass casualty incidents. No two events are identical, so  knowing how other first responders have dealt with similar situations will assist in tackling future incidents.

Tightening Community Resiliency

Community resiliency is a sociological concept that says a cohesive, well-connected community will bounce back quickly from a disaster. Churches, for example, are a source of community resilience because congregations come together after a disaster to provide emotional and material support to those affected.

Researching the Social Aspects of a Community

Where communities are concerned, numerous factors play a role in why an incident occurs. It is important to understand where community fault lines may be and how the community can recover.

Recognizing the factors that contribute to a major disaster and the lessons gleaned from after-action reports provide insights that ultimately help emergency management officials to determine better ways to handle future incidents and help the community rapidly recover.

Allison G. S. Knox Passionate about the issues affecting ambulances and disaster management, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior to teaching, she worked in a level-one trauma center emergency department and for a member of congress in Washington, D.C. She holds four Master’s degrees in Emergency Management, National Security Studies, International Relations, History, a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She is also trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue, is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard and a Lifeguard Instructor. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians and also serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia for the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.