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Why Emergency Managers Need to Educate Citizens about Emergency Situations

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By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Emergency management organizations throughout the United States have gone to great lengths to educate the public on a variety of public safety issues and how to effectively prepare for a major disaster. It is important, for example, to make sure that affected families have enough food to last a few days if their communities lose power.

Also, local residents must make sure they have a good plan in place before a major catastrophe occurs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), for instance, has a guide on its website to help citizens prepare for disasters.

For many civilians, however, it could be difficult to understand specifically what they should do if a major disaster suddenly struck. For example, what would residents do if they were out driving and saw a tornado touch down?

In some circumstances, disasters are difficult to predict, so it is hard for local residents to realize when a major catastrophe is occurring. Emergency managers must contemplate these types of disasters before they happen and develop educational materials so the public knows how to react during disaster events.

What Emergency Information Do Local Residents Need to Know?

While emergency managers can’t prevent all injuries, it is important for them to think about how people could be injured and what information is vital for local residents to have. For instance, guides to tornado shelters in town or in nearby areas are particularly helpful to citizens caught outdoors when a tornado strikes.

With that information, they can immediately head to a designated shelter. Surprisingly, not many people know about the existence of tornado shelters or think of taking shelter in one when necessary.

Should Critical Thinking and Risk Management Be Taught in Public Schools?

Many people argue that students are not learning critical thinking skills in public schools. Others argue that topics like risk management should be added to school programs.

Where emergency management is concerned, it is particularly important for individuals to know the specific steps of how to handle emergencies. With risk management training and a list of shelters in an area, this knowledge will prevent disaster-related casualties.

Emergency managers must look at the overall issues associated with emergency management and figure out what they need to do to prevent or mitigate the effects of catastrophic disasters that affect their communities. Providing a list of tornado-safe buildings is one way they can help to mitigate some of the issues associated with major storm systems.

Educating the public on what to do in disaster situations is both beneficial and cost-effective. It may also help local residents and first responders to avoid life-threatening injuries.

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.