The Need to Revisit Disaster Management Plans
On August 31, 2016, The Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS) reported that the Johnston Ambulance Service in Goldsboro, NC abruptly closed its doors, leaving hundreds of people without employment.
JEMS reported that the ambulance service was the largest private ambulance service in the area and thousands of patients who used this service would need to find another ambulance company for their non-emergency transportation needs.
It is devastating any time an organization closes its doors for the hundreds of people suddenly without employment. Despite the fact that Johnston Ambulance Service was not running emergency 911 calls, the idea that they would no longer be serving the public is a matter of emergency management concern.
Ambulance companies having financial trouble is not news, though, and is an issue that affects ambulance agencies throughout the country. An ambulance company closing its doors may not have a big influence on local level emergency response if they do not answer 911 calls. It can, however, affect large scale emergencies if the federal government needs to step in to assist in the emergency.
Emergency Support Functions
The federal government has included “emergency support functions,” which are essentially, packages of resources based on needs and based on the scope of the emergency. FEMA lists these emergency support functions in detail on their website.
Ambulances are part of this function and serve as a vital component of federal level response to a major disaster. Without this assistance, and without the resources in a region, the management of an emergency can become complicated as this important resource isn’t available.
Disaster Management Plans, Revisited
Emergency managers are tasked with the important job of making sure their emergency plans are functional, updated and have the appropriate resources to effectively manage a disaster. When ambulance companies close down because of financial reasons, it can be devastating to an area for the loss of employment for hundreds of people.
Because ambulance companies like Johnston do not respond to 911 calls, it can be easy for lawmakers to forget about their direct impact to emergency management. Emergency managers, though, need to carefully revisit their emergency management plans when ambulance companies are dismantled for how they may affect their emergency responses--even when those companies are not responsible for managing 911 emergencies.
Whenever an organization is no longer in business, it can be hard for a community to recover from the loss. Where ambulances are concerned, emergency managers need to take how their loss affects their community and the resources they plan to use in an emergency. At the federal level, emergency management officials will need to figure out how to make up for this type of loss in regions throughout the country.