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Does Effective Emergency Preparedness Need to Start with Local Businesses?

Start an Emergency & Disaster Management degree at American Military University.

By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

When a major storm rolls into an area, there are often numerous citizens who believe the storm will be dangerous. Then there's the second camp -- the more dangerous camp -- who may not believe the storm will be all that intense and do not effectively prepare themselves for the storm.

For emergency managers, people who are unprepared for emergencies creates a number of problems. For instance, lack of citizen preparation creates dangerous situations for public safety employees.

These local residents may not believe they need to prepare, because they think that they will still have access to numerous resources during a disaster. Social scientists often pinpoint this type of behavior to determine whether there is a behavior pattern that can be altered.

Emergency managers have long posited that more education helps individuals to know how they can effectively prepare for a disaster. But education often only goes so far -- it does not take away the need for disaster preparation.

Community Residents Over-Depend on Supermarkets for Disaster Preparedness

For the convenience of locals, supermarkets typically stay open for long hours, sometimes staying open 24 hours a day. Local residents know that they can buy necessary supplies at almost any time of day or night. But during storms, some residents skip preparation because they know they can easily drive to a store in town if necessary.

However, this over-dependence on supermarkets is hazardous. What if local stores suffered damage during a major storm and supplies were cut off? Would that motivate local residents to prepare for a natural disaster the next time one happened?

This concept would be difficult to measure without actually cutting off supplies to residents. But the concept certainly poses an intriguing question about human behavior and preparedness.

Creating a More Self-Reliant Culture in Communities

The root of the problem lies in trying to create self-reliant communities. This is a difficult concept, because self-reliance is almost against the core of some people. Some services tend to bloom because people don't want to perform certain chores.

Ultimately, emergency preparedness may need to start with small businesses, so that residents will actually purchase the materials they need prior to a disaster. While creating this type of social change is hard, it would be essential in altering social behavior and improving preparedness when it comes to disasters.

Start an Emergency & Disaster Management degree at American Military University.

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.