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Reacting to Emergencies Requires a Multi-Faceted Approach

Reacting to Emergencies Requires a Multi-Faceted Approach

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By Allison G. S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

In March, a Category 2 cyclone struck Mozambique, causing tremendous flooding and damages.

As a result, hundreds of people have died or been injured, and millions of dollars’ worth of farms, homes and other buildings have been destroyed. Additionally, relief and medical workers are now battling a cholera outbreak that has already infected more than 500 people.

Logistics Involved with American Emergency Management

It's easy to think about emergency management as being an exercise among police, fire and emergency medical services. But emergency management is far more complicated than that; it requires different resources, manpower and expertise in a specialized fashion to effectively mitigate any given situation. Rarely are emergencies handled in a one-size-fits-all approach because no two emergencies ever really unfold in a similar fashion.

The United States handles this specialized approach through the use of Emergency Support Functions as outlined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other specialized organizations. These agencies come together to manage the situation based on the specific needs of the event. It is a challenge, but one that is handled quite efficiently when you consider all of the logistics and manpower involved.

No Specialized System of Services in Mozambique

In Mozambique's case, the country does not have a specialized emergency management system similar to ours. That alone greatly complicates Mozambique's emergency response efforts, as we have seen in recent weeks. As a result, managing the effects of Cyclone Idai will be far more complicated.

Because of the numerous problems resulting from the Mozambique disaster, the international community will ultimately need to assist in the recovery effort. This international assistance becomes particularly important because the cholera outbreak, for example, must be contained so it doesn’t spread further.

Multi-Faceted Approach Needed to Prevent Disasters from Spiraling Out of Control

In short, because of the various resources needed to handle different disasters, emergency management must always take a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach. Without the resources similar to the U.S. government emergency management system, disasters can quickly spiral out of control.

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.