Posts Tagged With: Emergency service

Command System in the Emergency Response

In the emergency situation, we often hear different information about number of casualties and damage, also uneven aid distribution, lack of cooperation between the various stakeholders and so on.  Situations like this are usually caused by a lack of coordination among stakeholders or related agencies.

Incident Commander

To deal with the above situation, we need a command system to coordinate, control, monitor and evaluate emergency response activities. The command system is also known as the Incident Command System (ICS).

In general, the command system of the emergency response is a disaster emergency management system that is used to synergize and integrate the use of all available resources, human resources, equipment and funds or budget.

Or other definitions from Wikipedia:

The Incident Command System (ICS) is “a systematic tool used for the command, control, and coordination of emergency response” according to the United States Federal Highway Administration. A more detailed definition of an ICS according to the United States Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance is “a set of personnel, policies, procedures, facilities, and equipment, integrated into a common organizational structure designed to improve emergency response operations of all types and complexities.

Establishment of command system in the emergency response is usually done at the time of emergencies include:

  1. Emergency standby (preparedness) phase. Establishment of command system at this stage is usually performed for the type of disaster that happens gradually, like a flood or volcanic eruption. At this stage, operations control center is usually located in the region concerned (provincial / district / city).
  2. Emergency response phase. Establishment of command system at this stage is usually performed for the type of disaster that occurs suddenly, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides.
  3. Transition phase from emergency response phase to recovery phase.

Establishment of command system for the disaster that occurs suddenly is usually done after going through the following four stages:

1. Information about the initial event of disaster. This information can be obtained from various sources, to create a simple formula:

  • What: type of disaster
  • When: day, date, month, year, hour, local time
  • Where: location/place/disaster area
  • Who: number of casualties and infrastructure damage
  • Why: the cause of the disaster
  • How: what efforts have been made and what urgent needs

2. Assignment of Rapid Response Team. Based on the information about the initial event of disaster, the government or relevant agencies send Rapid Response Team to immediately conduct a quickly and accurate assessment also to provide the necessary support services for emergency response. The results of assessment from Rapid Response Team will be an input and consideration to the Government or related agencies to determine the next steps or to determine the status or level of disaster.

3. Determination status or level of disaster. Based on the input from Rapid Response Team (point 2 above), the government will set a status or level of disaster. At this stage the Government will also sometimes assign an officer as a Commander for Disaster Emergency Response in accordance with state or disaster level (national or regional scale).

4. Establishment of Disaster Emergency Response Command. Government in this regard the President / Governor / Regent / Mayor will issue a decree forming Disaster Emergency Response Command and immediately activate it. Mobilization of all resources is also usually done at this stage.

Emergency Command System is typically a single command organization. The chain of command and responsibilities are clearly. Usually all stakeholders will be coordinated within the organization is based on a unity of command. This organization can be formed at all levels of the region, at the central / national, provincial and district / city.

In general, basic organization structure of the Command System in the Emergency Response:

1. Incident Commander.

2. Deputy Incident Commander.

3. Command Unit:

  • Secretariat
  • Public Relations
  • Safety and Security
  • Liaison Officers from all respective stakeholders

4. General Unit:

  • Planning Section
  • Operations Section
  • Logistics, Equipment Section
  • Finance and Administration

The organizational structure above can be narrowed or expanded based on the needs.

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Categories: Disaster Management | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Coordination is Essential for Emergency Response

Coordination

During the emergency/disaster response, we often hear the word coordination, coordinate, and the like. It is easy to say coordination and coordination, but in reality very difficult to run and achieve it. For example, during the emergency response of floods in Jakarta in early 2013, we noticed that a lot of turmoil distributions of basic necessities due to lack of coordination between the authorities, relief parties/donors and communities affected by the disaster. We saw from mass media, affected people at the evacuation centers complained that they have not received any aid, but on the other hand we also saw that a lot of aid has been given. The questions then where the given aid and why many affected people still complained not get it? Apparently at the time, a lot of aid have only been stored at posko and has not been given to the affected people due to lack of coordination!

Shortly after disaster struck, many people, individually, organizations and government agencies immediately plunged into the location and provide humanitarian assistance. All parties came with their own interests so often competing priorities occurred. It can be seen from the lack of services and support provided to the affected people/communities, one example as mentioned above. Another example is duplication of effort so it can create inappropriate assistance. I have experience the same situation when I was participating in the emergency response in one area sometime ago. At the time, almost all parties/donors sent food aid, until finally the affected people refused to accept any food aid. Actually what urgently required at the time is basic medicines and medical assistance, but due to lack of coordination in the management of information, therefore the aid as per requirement came very late.

Definition of coordination based on free dictionary artikata.com is regarding the set of an organization or activity to ensure that rules and actions to be implemented are not contradictory or confusing or we can say coordination is the regulation of diverse elements into an integrated and harmonious operation. Some synonyms for coordination are harmonization, alignment, organization, and synchronization.

From the above definitions and synonyms, we could see that coordination does not occur within the short time. Coordination should be done well long before the disaster. Coordination of emergency response must be made by all stakeholders from government, private sectors, other relevant organizations and communities itself.

In general, to be able to make a good coordination system, there are several things should be considered, namely:

  1. Participatory of all stakeholders involved in the emergency situation. The tasks of coordination within a structure and process agreed and supported by all of stakeholders. A person or an agency or organization designated as the coordinator should be able to build a good atmosphere and mutual respect among all stakeholders.
  2. Impartial. Coordination should aim to provide assistance in accordance with the requirements irrespective of ethnicity/race, religion, political choices/affiliate, gender or age. Attention should be given to the vulnerable groups, children, the elderly, the disabled and pregnant women. Coordination should not be made to favor one agency or organization over another.
  3. Coordination should be done in transparent way. Coordination requires trust from all of stakeholders. Every decision making process and the provision of information should be done in a transparent and honest, even in cases of failure remains to be informed and not be covered up to a certain interest.
  4. Should be beneficial to the affected communities and other stakeholders.

One of the first steps that could be done in order to have a good coordination in the emergency response is mapping the capacities of all stakeholders. This needs to be done in order to be able to identify and facilitate the process of involvement of each party at the time of emergency. In essence, this mapping noted:

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. When
  4. Where
  5. Why
  6. How

From the mapping, then we can see the capacity of the different stakeholders so that the division of tasks for emergency responses can be coordinated.

Categories: Disaster Management | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Response – Disaster / Emergency Response

Airlift to speed up assistance to the affected people

Airlift to speed up assistance to the affected people

Previously, we have seen that response is the provision of assistances and services during or immediately after a disaster with primary goals to save lives, reduce the impact of the diseases or health-related, providing health services and providing basic needs required by the affected people/communities.

We can use a reference from The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR, 2009):

The provision of emergency services and public assistance during or immediately after a disaster in order to save lives, reduce health impacts, ensure public safety and meet the basic subsistence needs of the people affected.

As above reference, we can see there are two stages of response, namely:

  1. Response given immediately after a disaster or as we know is the emergency response.  The main activities at this stage are save lives and evacuation, fulfillment of basic needs and health care delivery. Emergency response period is usually set by the government for a certain period of time based on the recommendation from the agency or a special team tasked to assess and consider the conditions and impacts that occurred shortly after the disaster.
  2. Responses given during the disaster, this stage we know as well as the transition period. At this stage the provision of basic needs and health services still on-going and began providing assistance to improve vital infrastructure in order to support socio-economic activities as soon as possible. However, activities at this stage are temporary. Sometimes this phase continues until the recovery period.

Preliminary information about disaster events can be obtained from various sources, from the public reports, local government, mass media, the internet or other reliable sources. This early information must include the required data, namely:

  1. What: type of disaster
  2. When: day, date, time
  3. Where: location
  4. Who: number of casualties and infrastructure damage
  5. Why: the cause of the disaster
  6. How: what efforts have been made

Based on the preliminary information, the government or other professional organizations typically directly send their assigned Rapid Response Team to immediately conduct a quickly  and accurately assessment as well as provide the necessary support services for emergency response. In general, the team will conduct an assessment by using references from the initial information received and other secondary data. The report of rapid assessment must contain the necessary data, namely:

  1. Describes the type of disaster.
  2. Describes the exact time when disaster occurred.
  3. Describes the exact location or disaster area.
  4. Describes number of casualties (death toll, severe injured, minor injured, sick, missing) and the number of refugees, destruction of buildings and vital infrastructure that are damaged.
  5. Make a brief analysis of the causes of the disaster.
  6. Make a brief analysis of the available resources in the closest area to the disaster site and urgent resources needs.

From the report of assessment from Rapid Response Team, then usually the government will determine the status or level of disaster and set the next steps that should be taken to respond.

Categories: Disaster Management | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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