Disaster Management plan
Disaster Management plan forNajran University Students.
Master of Science in Disaster Medicine and Management
(University + University )
Fall2019Incidents of natural disaster are often unpredictable and lead to serious catastrophe. This is especially true if there is no disaster management plan in place to help those affected to cope with the situation. Natural disaster incidents have increased in severity, and have also been occurring more frequently (Dahl &Millora, 2016). This increase in frequency and severity has been attributed to climate change. Changing climate patterns have also been associated with both the occurrence and severity of extreme events. University students are some of the numerous victims of such disasters. The most common forms of natural disaster that affect university students comprise of floods, hurricanes, wild-land fires, tornadoes, and earthquakes (Alexander, 2017).
Natural disasters have a profound impact on university students because they result in interruption of the learning process, damage of property, as well as the loss of life. Besides, natural disasters alienate students from known resources such as family and friends. Such resources form an individual’s support system which is essential to speedy recovery in the event of an emergency. Therefore, there is a need to educate university students on the topic of natural disaster management. This way, students are well prepared in case of the occurrence of a natural disaster incident and respond effectively to save lives and prevent further loss of property. The aim of this project is to discuss how disasters affect students, as well as various techniques students can rely upon to mitigate the effects of natural disasters to implement an educational program/process for Najran University to actually use.
Statement of Need
Many university students study away from home, and, thus, they have no idea which of the numerous natural disasters is likely to occur to them. Moreover, disaster management is not actively taught at the university as part of the overall curriculum (Alexander 2017). For this reason, students lack the general knowledge and skills to respond to the specific forms of natural disasters that may occur within their immediate environment. Furthermore, some universities are located in areas prone to recurrent natural disasters putting students from such universities at high risk. Students in such areas have to be made conversant with necessary emergency responses as well as the humanitarian supply chain. This is a reference to all the activities, resources and people involved in the response to natural disasters including but not limited to logistics of basic needs such as food, water, medical supplies and emergency personnel. The humanitarian supply chain includes the four mission areas of disaster management, that is, preparation, response and mitigation as well as recovery. How well managed the humanitarian supply chain is plays a significant role in determining the success of an emergency operation after a natural disaster. Disaster management information in high-risk disaster areas should be considered a life skill and included as part of their education (Dahl &Millora, 2016).
Lastly, with the recent changes in climate, natural disaster patterns have become unpredictable placing university students at significant risk. Therefore, this project is necessary because it will provide guidelines on effective response to natural disasters among university students. Consequently, the impact of the disasters will be successfully mitigated because students will be well prepared and conversant with emergency response strategies or techniques. Emergency response is not always able to reach victims as fast as it is needed. This is especially true if the disaster spans across several days. Poor weather and geographical inaccessibility can also hamper rescue efforts in the event of the natural disaster (Alexander 2017). However, educating students and training them sharpens their first aid skills as well as their responsiveness. The implication of this is that fewer lives will be lost because the emergency response will be well coordinated to provide relief to victims.
The purpose of this project will be to create awareness among university students about various forms of natural disasters as well as their causes. Additionally, the project will seek to develop an all-natural disaster management plan for Najran University students during natural disasters. This will be useful in the management of natural disasters among university students in order to minimize their adverse effects. Better preparation means that there is less likelihood of being caught off-guard by a natural disaster. Moreover, having the necessary education and skill is likely to empower students to be more proactive in their responses in case a natural disaster occurs (Dahl &Millora, 2016).
Some natural disasters are predictable; this gives schools adequate warning to undertake evacuation as well as other safety precautions. Other disasters, however, occur without warning or their occurrence changes in ways that put the school occupants in severe danger. Preparation for such events requires a learning institution to first assess potential natural disaster risks in the immediate area. This information forms the basis of an emergency management plan. The disaster management plan refers to the systematic preparation for future extreme events and disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and fires just to cite a few (Alexander 2017).
This plan takes the form of a document that is shared among the various stakeholders such as students and lecturers. The documents detail the specific responsibilities and roles of each stakeholder in responding to the emergency. The disaster management plan forms the basis or blueprint for emergency response. The goals of a disaster management plan include but are not limited to ensuring that emergency resources are efficiently utilized, protecting the vulnerable, maintaining public safety as well as limiting the damage of the disaster (Dahl &Millora, 2016).
Accordingly, at the University level, an effective disaster management plan should be designed to produce an educational program as its outcome (Alexander 2017). The program should prepare university students to be more resilient in the event of a natural disaster. It is prepared in recognition of the needs for disaster management and knowledge at the collegiate level(Alexander 2017). Disaster management education should be considered essential-especially in disaster-prone areas. Greater effectiveness can be promoted by incorporating disaster education into the regular educational curriculum (Alexander 2017). Greater levels of awareness can be raised in colleges by leveraging the power of technological, social tools such as social media for maximum reach. An educational program also needs to be updated regularly to reflect changing circumstances as well as making sure that students are updated on contemporary issues.
Disaster planning and management is a relatively new field that was developed in the 70s mainly as a response to technological or manmade disasters such as oil spills. Over time, the field began to emphasize on the management of natural disasters. Initially, the focus of disaster management was hazards as opposed to vulnerability. Numerous disasters that occur often have insignificant impact and mitigation can be achieved without material changes in the day to day procedures (Wisner &Gallard 2015). However, disasters of greater magnitude require a complete departure from the daily routine and the adoption of emergency procedures. Responding to disasters involves planning, response procedures as well as improvisation. Every emergency has its own unique characteristics that usually necessitates improvisation.
Nonetheless, unwanted or poor improvisation can result in an inefficient disaster management process. For this reason, adequate preparation and foresight are recommended so that the need for improvisation is minimal (Sturgis 2013). Additionally, disasters and emergency situations provide opportunities for learning from past mistakes or inefficiencies, both at the individual and organizational level. Case in point, if a university is affected by an earthquake that leads to structural collapse entrapping individuals, shortcomings such as the absence of equipment for search and rescue may be acutely felt. To remedy this, the institution may undertake necessary basic education as well as training of university employees on the use of personal safety equipment, probes, and props to improve their responses. This training can also be extended to student leaders as well so that they are able to provide direction in the event of an emergency. With the necessary knowledge and skills on emergency responsiveness, these student leaders can guide the rest of the students and provide assistance to university staff in responding more effectively.
A disaster management plan should provide information and educate stakeholders on the procedures for emergency responsiveness by the assignment of definite roles to all personnel involved. Additionally, it should also ensure all the stakeholders involved in the rescue operations are well-aware of their roles and responsibilities as well as those of others to guarantee that the response is harmonious and well-coordinated. As previously mentioned, disaster management is a process as opposed to a product or an outcome. For greater effectiveness, such a plan should match the available resources with the urgent requirements in an emergency. Moreover, a disaster management plan should be done pragmatically and its goals should be realistic.
Designing a disaster management plan should thus take into consideration both the capabilities and limitations of the available emergency response resources. Emergency planning is often a process of approximation involving collective effort (Wisner &Gallard 2015). This means that it is participatory in nature and its effectiveness is heavily reliant on the collaboration among the various stakeholders. In addition, training and experience are also important in responding to emergencies. Nonetheless, some disaster managers have argued that having a definite emergency management plan is unnecessarily restrictive and might stifle improvisation which is necessary because disasters are often unique (Sturgis 2013). This means that emergency response plans are rigid and require strict adherence, which may be a problem in case of unforeseen complications. Effective emergency response should be adaptable to every situation for optimal impact. After all, every disaster comes with its own subjective set of challenges and responders should be able to easily adjust their plans to reflect the prevailing conditions (Dahl &Millora, 2016).
Due to the uniqueness of each emergency, there does not exist an ideal disaster management plan for university emergency responses. Nonetheless, the stages involved in disaster management planning for each crisis are similar and are discussed below.
Prevention and Mitigation
The goal of prevention in disaster management is usually to reduce the chance of occurrence of an adverse event. For prevention to work seamlessly, such an event has to be predictable and possibly caused by human activity (Wisner &Gallard 2015). Mitigation, on the other hand, is aimed at decreasing the overall negative effects of a disaster as well as reduce the necessity of emergency response. There are various steps a university can take to reduce the risks posed by a range of natural events from earthquakes to floods to disease epidemics. The most important step in mitigation and prevention is environmental scanning in order to identify the various risks that arise from the immediate environment (Dahl &Millora, 2016). University incident data and trends in the community are some of the important sources of such data. University students face a variety of natural disasters including earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and toxic spills.
In order to address the potential natural disasters the university faces, it is important to involve the local emergency planning committees. Such local community-planning infrastructure not only records and catalogues potential disasters in the immediate area but also possesses the resources necessary to mitigate these disasters. Historical information can form the basis for preparation and response to the occurrence of disaster as it provides insight into what to expect, hence reducing the potential impact. Integrating the University’s response with that of the community would also result in improved capacity to respond and recover. Moreover, local emergency planning committees also have disaster response plans in place that can be used by the university as the basis for writing an institutional emergency plan. Local emergency planning committees are groups composed of local stakeholders in emergency preparedness. LEPCs also provide support for emergency planning in preparation of emergencies especially those that may result in discharge of hazardous chemical material. (Paton & McClure 2013) These local groups can work with learning institutions to not only identify local environmental vulnerabilities but also provide the necessary resources for the examination of the university’s risk potential. The mitigation of communicable disease should involve education as well as surveillance.
Illness patterns and unusual symptoms can be detected by surveillance of absenteeism logs in learning institutions that keep attendance records. Universities should keep a disciplined student records including a class attendance log to track the whereabouts of all students. This is especially true for those that are situated in areas prone to natural disasters. For convenience, the University can rely on smart access cards that can be used to determine those who have accessed the University buildings. Communicable diseases are an important topic in the mitigation of disasters because most natural disasters such as flooding, hurricanes, and even earthquake often result in their occurrence (Alexander 2017). Stakeholders should be made aware of infection control measures, appropriate sanitation, cough and sneeze etiquette as well as hand hygiene. Stakeholders in this case are a reference to all affected parties including but not limited to University students and staff as well as members of the immediate community. Effective communication of such important information ensure that other epidemics do not arise and exacerbate the emergency situation. These techniques have a considerable impact on the reduction of severity of the infection and they can be easily integrated into the learning process.
Preparation is often done in anticipation of the occurrence of a disaster. It involves the identification of university crisis teams and the delineation of the roles of all individuals participating. The crisis teams and the local community emergency committee work hand in hand to establish a link between institution-specific crisis planning to the community crisis plans. The university crisis teams should asses the various resources available to the school such as medical equipment. It is also important for students with special needs such as the disabled or impaired to be identified and valid emergency care plans put in place. Individual and emergency care plans for students with special needs can be developed based on the guidelines by the American College of Emergency Physicians. Training is a big part of learning as it prepares the university staff and student leaders for the diverse scenarios they may have to confront in the event of disaster. Training also puts the theoretical education on emergency in perspective and ensures responders are prepared well psychologically. Such training may involve simulation of emergency scenarios or conducting drills to gauge the level of readiness.
Additionally, students with physical limitations may require additional preparedness plans. For instance, students with wheelchairs require special consideration such as evacuation chairs that can easily use the staircases in the event that the elevator is out of service. There is also the need to plan for alternative routes for evacuation and to assign qualified staff members to provide the necessary care. Students with chronic ailments such as diabetes face additional risks in case there is a need to take shelter in designated areas or case of a prolonged lockdown. The university should ensure that essential medical equipment and resources are available for emergency situations. Guidelines for such resources are provided by organizations such as the National Association of College Nurses.
According to the American Association of College Nurses, natural disasters always carry the risk of precipitating an epidemic (Paton & McClure 2013). Most natural disasters, such as floods, famine, hurricanes, and wildfires to cite a few, are often followed closely by disease outbreaks (Paton & McClure 2013). Outbreaks of communicable diseases in disaster areas can result in more deaths than the actual disaster if active medical steps are not taken in response. The National Association of College Nurses provides a national voice nursing in academia. It works towards the establishment of quality standards for the profession, providing information to institutions at the college level on how to manage disaster situations, as well as necessary medical supplies to ensure the emergency does not exacerbate. This is part of its public support system as far as it relates to research, practice, and education.
Emergency responders such as law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medics provide the necessary infrastructural support to various institutions in the event of a natural disaster. These responders rely on the incident command system which is designed to create greater efficiency and effectiveness through the integration of the efforts of various responders under a single organizational structure. This system is supported by the federal government and seeks to ensure that equipment, personnel, and communications are well coordinated to avoid confusion as well as bureaucratic bottlenecks between agencies (Schafer et al., 2014). At this stage, there is a need to integrate the school response with that of the community-wide system. This can be achieved by the use of common vocabulary as far as the incident command is concerned as well as the alignment of communication frequency with that of emergency responders. Additionally, there is also a need for practice through community-wide drills and exercises to enable the identification of gaps as well as weaknesses so they can be addressed.
One of the most important challenges as far as the emergency response is concerned involves evacuation, relocation, and lockdowns in the event of a natural disaster (Rubin 2015). A disaster management plan should address these issues by providing guidelines on response to diverse scenarios, planning for transporting the students to safer locations, putting mechanisms to track the whereabouts of students during disasters, and ensuring their adequate shelters for a safe relocation. Parents should also have an understanding of the emergency plan. Parents should regularly be updated in advance upon the onset of high-risk seasons. They should also be made to understand that rushing into disaster areas in panic may put them at risk, redirect vital resources from their children, and consequently undermine the humanitarian efforts (Alexander 2017). This necessitates effective communication of information to parents or guardians either through mass media or personal contacts. Before the occurrence of a crisis, parents should also be provided with a detailed plan on the proposed reunification of college students with their parents once the situation has been successfully resolved.
While prevention and preparedness strategies are effective before the occurrence of a disaster, the response once the disaster occurs is highly important. The response phase puts all the planning and preparation to test against a real-life situation. Depending on the nature of the situation, activation of university crisis teams is undertaken and the various procedures that have been put in place implementation. An ideal response to the occurrence of a natural disaster involves the effective collaboration of the various stakeholders as well as adherence to the incident command system (Ryan 2015).
Members of the university administration such as lecturers and nurses are also part of the response to the emergency as they are more conversant with the immediate surroundings. The response also involves the identification of any arising health concerns as well as any individuals who are having trouble coping. In emergency situations, facilities in learning institutions often become evacuation shelters not just for students, but also for other members of the society who may have lost their homes. Moreover, these shelters also provide emergency personnel with the opportunity to evaluate the needs of the various victims. It is advisable that officials of the university be on hand in recovery centers to provide information and guidance to the college students as well as their parents. The media has an important part in the dissemination of pertinent information which ensures parents and relatives of students affected by the disaster are well-informed on the progress of response and recovery operations (Alexander 2017).
In the context of Saudi Arabia where the incident command system is not as well defined as in the United States, the local religious leadership may come in handy to provide the necessary direction during the management of a natural disaster. The University can also coordinate with the local branch of the Civil Defense Ministry of Interior to ensure better communication and response.
The goal of this stage for learning institutions such as Najran University is to enable the restoration of infrastructure and to commence the learning process as fast as possible. Research shows that educational routine is very effective in providing guidance in the event of an emotional crisis (Perry & Lindell 2015). The University also has the responsibility to provide necessary support in the form of mental health resources. Additionally, those affected by the disaster should be constantly monitored for progress on their recovery. As part of the long-term recovery, the university should plan for commemoration of the anniversary.
This project relied on existing literature on the subject as a basis to take the plan of action. In the integrated literature review, studies related to emergency preparedness, prevention, mitigation, and recovery were targeted. To ensure the research included was extensive enough, the project included an online search of emergency and humanitarian databases on the topic of disaster management.
Moreover, the project also searched relevant webpages using the Google search engine. Citations were selected on the following basis: they had to discuss the management of disaster at the university level or any other topics closely related to emergency response and the management of humanitarian crisis. The keywords for the study were Disaster Management Plan, Emergency, Preparedness, Prevention, Mitigation, Response, Recovery, Educational Program, and University.
The initial search resulted in eighty-two citations on the relevant topic. However, fifty-one of the sources were eliminated upon further examination because they were outdated. The remaining thirty-one sources were in seven languages and spanned over ten countries. The fifteen citations relied upon for the literature review were selected on the basis of their relevance for University context as well as based on how current they were. To educate students on preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery during disasters, this project develops an educational program.
The topics for the presentation were chosen based on the pre-existing educational disaster educational and training programs. I searched the internet for existing for disaster management plans by other collegiate institutions and used them as the basis for designing the program for Najran University disaster management. Disaster management plans are available on various online sites including Survey monkey and those of organizations such as IFRC and Red Cross.
In the event of a natural disaster, university students were educated on the following topics: first and foremost, the importance of immediate response when emergency alarm is activated or voice notification about an emergency is made as well as how to solve immediate challenges. This is to ensure students are made aware of the early warning systems in place designed to warn them about an imminent disaster. Education also ensures that such warnings are taken seriously and necessary steps are executed (Paton & McClure 2013).
The educational program seeks to use technology to spread intended information on emergency response procedures to the students. This can be done with the help of internet and social media in particular, where students can be reached directly and provided with relevant educational material. The results of the study indicated that the students spend majority of their time on social media, thus making it an appropriate medium for dissemination of educational material. Additionally, a study by Paton & McClure (2013) found that students did not find the topic of disaster stimulating.
The study suggested incorporation of disaster management education into the curriculum to promote learning as students are more likely to be motivated by an examinable topic. There will be lessons on campus given by safety experts on the subject. There is also need for simulations of disaster in order to have students practice how to act in case of an emergency. Additionally, the university should perform safety drills to acquaint various stakeholders with their roles or what is expected during the occurrence of a disaster.
The project is to have this learning program incorporated into active learning so that it is given the necessary attention. If conducted outside of the normal learning situation, students are less likely to pay attention. Therefore, it is proposed that disaster management become part of the school curriculum. Additionally, the project will be community-based, and will thus involve the immediate community of the school. This recognizes that Najran University does not exist in isolation and the larger community plays an important role in the mitigation and preparedness of the institution. Towards this end, the university should seek participation and input from various community stakeholders. These include emergency response personnel such as law enforcement, firefighters, medical personnel as well as civilian responders. Involving these stakeholders ensures that the preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery efforts are well-coordinated (Dadson 2015). For instance, the university should seek to have a unified channel of communication with emergency responders. This way, all information on a natural disaster is accessible to all stakeholders in the community. Additionally, the university should also ensure that emergency contact numbers for the police, the fire department, and hospitals are available to students on campus for easy reporting.
The unpredictable nature of natural disasters poses several challenges in how institutions such as Najran University mitigate the effects and respond to their occurrence. Institutions in disaster-prone areas need to have a disaster management plan to form the basis of preparation and mitigation of emergencies. There are various strategies for prevention and mitigation as well as preparedness for the occurrence of a disaster. Prevention strategies are often concerned with avoiding the occurrence of the disaster and are thus appropriate for predictable and manmade disasters. However, some disasters are unforeseen and are thus impossible to prevent. This necessitates the adoption of mitigation strategies designed to alleviate the suffering, loss of life, and damage to property (Crichton 2014).
Mitigation is necessary once a disaster has occurred, and goes hand-in-hand with the response. Response from various emergency personnel also plays an important role in mitigating effects of the disaster if it is well-coordinated. This necessitates the adoption of an incident command system where all emergency response personnel are coordinated via the same chain of command.
Furthermore, students should also be trained on the usage of basic emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers, fire hoses, and emergency exits. Such equipment may come in handy as it help in mitigating localized effects of a disaster such as fires in lecture halls and exit from buildings that have suffered structural damage. Additionally, students should also receive training on how to use route maps of various buildings to evacuate from disasters and assemble the emergency assembly points within the university. Drills and exercises are important in ensuring that students internalize evacuation routes, fire escapes, fire assembly points. Also, it allows them to familiarize themselves with emergency shelter location where they can hide until rescue personnel arrive. Evacuation is often the most recommended response to a natural disaster. However, if done inappropriately it may expose students to further dangers (Fyfe 2013).
This educational program also included training on the critical nature of shutting down operation of services such as gas and electric depending on the type of disaster. Disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes may increase the risk of leakage of gas or exposure of live electric wires. The explosion of gas lines and electrocution may occur leading to further loss of lives or the property destruction. It is thus important to ensure that such services are shut down to avoid further casualties. Finally, students will also be educated on accountability procedures for emergency evacuations. Such procedures ensure that everyone knows their roles as well as those of their counterparts for better coordination.
CONTENTS OF TRAINING PROGRAM
The disaster management plan for students in Najran University included the following elements. First and foremost, students were provided with theoretical information on disasters likely to affect the institution, what to do when disasters strike, and risky behaviors during an emergency situation. They were also trained on how to use basic emergency equipment in case of the occurrence of a natural disaster. Such basics include the use of emergency exits to evacuate, activation as well as response fire alarms, and the importance of fire assembly points in the event of an emergency. In addition, the program also oversaw training of students on the use of route maps to vacate dangerous areas and find their way to designated points of assembly. Drills and mock exercises were also conducted on a regular basis to familiarize students with procedures of emergency mitigation and evacuation. Drills on how to behave in case of fire, storm, floods, and a host of other emergency scenarios were an important fixture in this program as they gave students a sense of practicality.
The training also involved familiarization with locations of emergency shelters. The process defined the location of the buildings designated as shelters in case evacuation is not an option. Students were also trained on how to behave or coordinate themselves while taking shelter during emergency situation. Also in recognition of the fact that injuries may occur necessitating first aid, students were also provided with training on basic first aid techniques such as stopping bleeding with available shelter supplies (nose, minor wounds, etc.), giving CPR, disinfecting open wounds, and applying bandages, to cite a few.
For successful completion of program objectives, the program was implemented in stages. First it was implemented among the university staff who are likely to be more receptive than students, and then broadened to include student leaders in various capacities. The educational and training program was first tested in a limited pilot program restricted to university faculty and student leaders to establish its effectiveness in case of a natural disaster. Participants were also assessed regularly to establish the effectiveness of educational and training programs. The evaluation was also based on the outcome of real-life emergency situations that affect NajranUniversiy. The first round offerings showed positive educational outcomes of the university. Nonetheless, students were inclined to learn the education material since it was examined as part of the curriculum. Social media was utilized extensively to facilitate student interaction. Based on the results, the program was adjusted to make it more effective. Finally, the education program was implemented all over the institution with the help of the first two groups as well as community stakeholders.
In conclusion, Najran University should implement an educational program to provide its students as well as other stakeholders with relevant knowledge and training for responding effectively to the occurrence of a natural disaster. Such a program should entail identification and response to early warning systems, the use of emergency response equipment, how to safely evacuate and relocate as well as accountability procedures for emergency situations. Additionally, such a program should be included in the academic curriculum of the university to ensure that students take it seriously. If it becomes part of the general learning process, it is likely to result in better outcomes.
Moreover, it is important to ensure that the disaster management plan is a community-based undertaking involving both the school as well as other community stakeholders. Other community stakeholders such as law enforcement, the fire department, medical, and civilian responders play an important role in emergency response. They should not only be consulted when developing the disaster management plan for the university but also provided with a direct line of communication to facilitate a fast response when disaster strikes. Last but not least, the university should institute community-wide exercises and drills for practical training. Such exercise not only identifies gaps and weaknesses in the plan, but they also prepare students as well as other stakeholders mentally.
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