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Using Lenses to Tighten Emergency Management Plans


The social sciences attempt to explain through research and discussion just how complex society is at any given time in documented history. Social scientists make recommendations for change, and also work to explain how individuals interact – among many other areas that social scientists touch in their overall research process.

These research studies are particularly important to emergency management, as it helps emergency managers to understand where to concentrate their efforts in a society in order to maintain preparedness and to also manage a crisis once it has occurred.

Community violence has seen an increase in recent years–both through riots and active shooter scenarios. Different areas of academic scholarship contemplate how this issue affects society through their discipline's lens. While community violence is a public health issue and, of course, a sociological phenomenon, it is becoming increasingly important for emergency managers to contemplate what is specifically happening in society to better prepare for these types of emergencies when they happen in a large-scale context.

Those in EDM must look at how different aspects of academic disciplines view an issue to tighten their disaster management plans. Emergency managers should also use the social sciences to figure out where they need to concentrate their efforts to effectively manage emergencies.

Community Violence as a Public Health Issue

Community violence affects healthcare, especially when there are multiple patients associated with community violence--for example, when riots arise. Darla Thompson recently wrote a briefing from a conference highlighting specifically how community violence traumatizes communities. She also discussed community resiliency concepts, which are issues that also directly affect emergency management efforts, too.

Community Violence as a Law Enforcement Issue

Community violence is, of course, a law enforcement issue, as well. Police departments must be vigilant in keeping outbreaks of community violence minimal, and also about getting those off the street who are committing these offenses.

The use of force has become a tremendous issue, and is one that the United States Department of Justice strongly recommends revisiting for each community – especially with the increase in violence. How these concerns are handled becomes an important piece to understanding specifically just how community violence may continue to erupt.

Using the Social Sciences and Other Lenses for Emergency Management

Much like how the public health and law enforcement communities contemplate how community violence will impact these areas within society, the emergency management community must also contemplate how community violence will impact it.

This goes beyond the disaster management plans that many emergency managers develop. Instead, emergency managers need to utilize the social sciences to contemplate how and why issues like this will affect the overall community. In doing so, emergency managers will be preparing for what might be coming down the pipe in terms of potential crises on the horizon. Additionally, they should review how other disciplines look at a given issue as it may help them to tighten their plans.

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, and History; a Graduate Certificate in Homeland Security; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Allison is an Emergency Medical Technician, Lifeguard, and Lifeguard Instructor, and is trained in Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. She serves on the Board of Trustees for Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society as Chancellor of the Southeast Region, Vice Chair of the Tactical Emergency Medical Support Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and serves as the Advocacy Coordinator of Virginia with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She is also a member of several committees including the Editorial Committee with APCO, the Rescue Task Force Committee with the International Public Safety Association, and the Advocacy Committee with the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. She also serves as Chair of the Leadership Development Program for the 2020 Pi Gamma Mu Triennial Convention. Allison has published several book reviews and continues to write about issues affecting ambulances, emergency management, and homeland security.