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Disaster plans are an illusion of preparation unless
accompanied by training. (Courtesy of Vern Paule, Public Information
Officer, FEMA Region IX, San Francisco, California.)
|Written disaster plans are important, but they are not enough by themselves to assure preparedness. In fact, they can be an illusion of preparedness if they are not tied to training programs, not acceptable to the intended users, not tied to the necessary resources, or not based on valid assumptions. This illusion is called the "paper" plan syndrome. This chapter discusses the important steps in avoiding impotent written disaster plans.|
WHAT IS THE "PAPER" PLAN SYNDROME?
One of the greatest impediments to disaster preparedness is the tendency to believe that it can be accomplished merely by the completion of a written plan Quarantelli, 1982b:16; Quarantelli, 1985:21). Written plans indeed are very important, but they are only one of the requirements necessary for preparedness (Gratz, 1972:12; Quarantelli, 1981a: 12; Bush, 1981: 1). A written plan can be an illusion of preparedness if the other requirements are neglected Quarantelli, 1982b:16,17; Rosow,1977:104; Barton,1963:43; Barton,1969:96; Moore, 1958:10). This illusion will be referred to as the "paper" plan syndrome.
"PAPER" PLANS VERSUS DISASTER RESPONSE
The preponderance of "paper" plans is reflected in the frequency with which disaster responses differ from what is in the written plan (Neff, 1977:181; Golec, 1977:175; Worth, 1977:160,162; Rosow, 1977:104,105; Quarantelli, 1983:87,121; Moore, 1958:21; Tierney, 1985b:62; Arnett, 1983:31; Dynes, 1981:71).
EXAMPLE: Many hospital administrators concede that while disaster plans are necessary for hospital accreditation, they are relatively unworkable in practice (Worth, 1977:166). As stated by one administrator involved in a disaster: "I opened up our plan immediately after we were notified, and it said that wards 4A and B would be the shock and resuscitation areas for all victims. That's four floors up. I've got two old elevators that take forever to move up, and I said we're forgetting the disaster plan completely, this is the way we are going to run it, and we ran it from that point on our own ...... (Worth, 1977:166)
EXAMPLE: Mt. St. Helens Volcano Eruption, May 18,1980. A Washington State University study revealed that a majority of 26 communities did not use an emergency preparedness plan when the eruption occurred. In many cases, city officials discovered that the plan was not applicable to their needs (FEMA, 1983d:8).
A Disaster Research Center study of 29 mass casualty disasters found that in most cases the disaster plan was not followed to any great extent. One reason for this was that key personnel did not fully understand the plan or know their role in it. In addition, common disaster problems were not anticipated. In only 21 % of the disasters was a predesignated communications plan followed, and In less than 50% of the cases was transportation of disaster casualties carried out according to the written plan (Quarantelli, 1983:71,89,121).
PRINCIPLEDisaster planning is an illusion unless: it is based on valid assumptions about human behavior, incorporates an inter-organizational perspective, is tied to resources, and is known and accepted by the participants.
PLANNING BASED ON VALID ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT HUMAN BEHAVIOR
Disaster planning and response must be based on valid assumptions. Unfortunately, many of the assumptions people make about disasters are incorrect Quarantelli, 1982b:15; Quarantelli, 1985:3,19,21; Drabek, 1985b:i,9).
The Myth of Maladaptive Behavior
One of these assumptions is that citizens in a disaster-impacted area tend to respond in a maladaptive manner. One common belief is that panic is a common occurrence and that warnings and evacuation orders must be given most cautiously to prevent it. Another belief is that many persons are stunned by the impact and suffer from a condition of immobility and inability to act rationally (the so-called "disaster syndrome"). These persons are thought to be incapable of acting on their own and to need strong leadership and direction by authorities. Another belief is that the chaos and confusion following disasters provides the conditions for antisocial behavior such as crime, looting, and exploitation (Dynes, 1974:71; Quarantelli, 1960:68; Quarantelli, 1965:107; Quarantelli, 1972:67).
The prevalence of belief that disasters are typified by maladaptive behavior is suggested by the results of a study by Wenger and his associates (Wenger, 1975). They surveyed a random sample consisting of 354 residents of New Castle County, Delaware. Of those surveyed, 84% believed that panic is a major problem in disasters, 74% felt that disaster victims cannot care for themselves because they suffer from the "disaster syndrome"' 62% felt that looting was usually a significant problem in disasters, and 51% believed that crime rates usually increase immediately following disasters.
A later study by Wenger, James, and Faupel confirmed these results. This study included the previous data from New Castle County (a community with little actual disaster exposure) and added random sample surveys of the general population from three communities that had suffered from multiple major disasters (300 interviews from each community). A total of 51 additional interviews were carried out with informants from emergency response organizations in these communities (including the mayor's office, civil defense, police, fire, sheriff, Red Cross, Salvation Army, military, and hospital). This study revealed that most emergency responders also held these beliefs, though not as large a percentage as the general population (Wenger, 1985a:103,105).
Although seemingly less prevalent in more recent publications, the belief in maladaptive behavior is still expressed in articles and books on disaster management (FEMA, 1983a:5-16; Buerk, 1982:644; 1981f:40; Arnett, 1981:76,87).
Careful and systematic studies of disasters, however, have yielded an entirely different picture. Although an occasional episode of human behavior may conform to this stereotype, it does not represent the ways in which people typically respond to disasters (Mileti, 1975:57; Quarantelli, 1960:68; Quarantelli, 1965:107; Wenger, 1975:33; Quarantelli, 1972:67). The morals, loyalties, respect for laws, customs, and tenets of acceptable behavior, ingrained by years of upbringing, are not dissolved in an instant by disaster (Drabek, 1968:143). Courage, altruism, and selflessness are characteristics far more representative of disaster behavior (Drabek, 1986:143). (The prevalence of helping behavior in disasters is discussed in Chapter 6.) As stated by Professor E.L. Quarantelli of the University of Delaware's Disaster Research Center:
"Most human beings act in quite controlled and adaptive ways in the face of the new and extreme stresses which they face during large scale disasters." (Quarantelli, 1965:108)
Panic is not a typical response to disaster. On the contrary, it is often quite difficult to get persons in a disaster-threatened area to evacuate. (More discussion about panic is found in Chapter 9.) Furthermore, disasters generally do not render people stunned and unable to act. They will take what they perceive to be appropriate actions even without direction or leadership from the authorities. In fact, official directives that are not considered relevant or appropriate may be ignored altogether (Quarantelli, 1960:76; Dynes, 1974:30; Fritz, 1956:41; Fritz, 1961:672).
Except in civil disorders, it has been difficult to verify that significant looting or an increase in criminal activity occurs in peacetime disasters. The investigations that have been carried out conclude that looting is quite rare, and that criminal activity does not increase (Quarantelli, 1972:69; Drabek, 1986:145, 180; Dynes, 1968:10; Fritz, 1957:53). In a study of 100 disasters, researchers found many stories of looting, but extremely few verified cases (Dynes, 1981:26; Quarantelli, 1972:69).
EXAMPLE: PSA Air Crash, San Diego, California, September 25, 1978. After the airliner collided with a private plane and crashed into a residential area, a report of looting at the crash site was circulated. The San Diego police chief was so concerned by this unverifiable rumor, that he wrote a letter to a national news magazine, stating, "There is absolutely no evidence that any looting occurred at the crash site or in the immediate vicinity." (Drabek, 1986:146)
EXAMPLE: Tornado, White County, Arkansas, March 21, 1952. Of those questioned by a University of Chicago team of investigators, 58% stated that they had heard of others' property being stolen, but only 6% felt convinced that their own property had been taken. Furthermore, most of the missing items were of inconsequential value. The study team could actually verify the theft of only two items-a cash register and a piano Quarantelli, 1972:69; Dynes, 1968:10).
Unfortunately, police sometimes invest so much effort in preventing looting that traffic control suffers. Serious crowd and traffic problems interfere with access, and movement of ambulances and rescue equipment are not managed optimally (Kennedy, 1970:358). However, because the public expects looting and other anti-social behavior, they need to feel the presence of security forces in the area. It is not usually necessary in natural disasters to deploy massive forces for this purpose. Rather the need can often be met by placing a few armed guards at strategic and conspicuous locations, and by mass media announcements that all necessary precautions are being taken (Dynes, 1981:33). Furthermore, the deployment of security and law enforcement personnel for traffic and perimeter control also contributes to their visible presence to the public.
"Likely" Behavior Versus "'Correct" Behavior
Disaster plans are often written in the belief that people ought to behave according to the plan. The plans state what people "should do. " A more successful approach is to design the plan according to what people are "likely to do." Plans are much easier to change than human behavior (Drabek, 1985b:9; Quarantelli, 1985:21; Dynes, 1981:iv).
PRINCIPLEBase disaster plans on what people are "likely" to do, rather than what they "should" do.
Some planners believe that persons in the impact area are often stunned and rendered helpless by a disaster and that what they need and will respond to is a strong leader who can tell them what to do. For this reason, it is assumed that disaster behavior can be controlled to a high degree. Some disaster plans specify in quite some detail the manner in which people are to behave or respond.
However, even totalitarian governments; using coercive measures during wartime have not always found it possible to dictate behavior that was not considered legitimate by the public. When this has been tried, orders have sometimes had to be rescinded in the face of widespread and sometimes violent protests.
EXAMPLE: Germany, World War II. The government had to abandon attempts to prevent families from bringing their children back to the cities which were targets of allied bombing attacks (Quarantelli, 1960:76).
EXAMPLE: Britain, World Wars I & IL The British government in both world wars tried to ban the use of subway stations as overnight bomb shelters. Both times, however, people continued to sleep in the subway stations, and regulations against this activity had to be canceled (Quarantelli, 1960:76).
Some persons seem at times resistant to evidence that contradicts their presumption that control of disaster behavior can be achieved. The failure of citizens to follow their directives may be interpreted to reflect a weakness in the means of control used, rather than in the basic assumption that such control can be achieved. Occasionally, disaster officials gain a false sense of success when they misinterpret public actions as being a result of their directives (Quarantelli, 1960:77).
EXAMPLE: Warning was received in a California city that it might be the target of a tidal wave. City officials issued an order to evacuate the downtown area. The evacuation order was called a success because the area was cleared rather promptly. However, many of those who left then went to the beach to watch for the wave! (Quarantelli, 1960:76)
EXAMPLE: "The key to NASA's success in reaching the moon was that all the participants were impressed not only with their role in getting the rocket off the ground but more importantly with how their role interfaced or interacted with other roles. They were briefed not only on their duties but also informed about the total, overall project. The problem of getting to the moon was solved by many experts performing in their own separate fields of expertise but all with the same goal in mind. Although each participant had only a small role in the outcome, each was very much aware of his own part in achieving it." (Coleman, 1978:8)
This quote was taken, not from a book on space exploration, but from a fire management text. The author used it to describe the importance of an overall systems perspective in fire service operations. A systems perspective in disaster preparedness requires inter-organizational planning. Some of the most critical difficulties in disaster response are due to the lack of inter-organizational coordination. Yet, many organizations plan for disaster as if they were to function in isolation. Their disaster plans are conceived -with a focus on trees rather than forests.
For example, while nearly all hospitals have disaster plans, they may have ignored coordinating them with other hospitals, public safety agencies, and ambulance services (Quarantelli, 1983:103; Worth, 1977:166). The Disaster Research Center found that only 44% of the communities they studied had any inter-organizational disaster plan whatsoever for emergency medical services. Even then, some plans called for the coordination of only two or three emergency agencies. Plans called for police to coordinate with fire departments, or for ambulances to coordinate with hospitals, but other organizations were ignored.
Furthermore, most of the plans only took into consideration those emergency organizations that normally respond to medical emergencies within the political boundaries of the community. Even fewer plans existed for overall coordination of disaster emergency medical services at the county or state level Quarantelli, 1983:86,120; Neff, 1977:179; Tierney, 1985a). In only about 25% of the localities did the Disaster Research Center find any type of regional disaster planning (Quarantelli, 1983:106).
EXAMPLE: The Air Florida Crash, Potomac River and Subway Derailment, Washington, D.C., January 13, 1982. The National Transportation Safety Board investigation revealed that there was no area-wide disaster plan that provided for joint response by emergency units of the District of Columbia and adjoining suburban areas of Virginia and Maryland. The D.C. Fire Department and the Transit Authority had jointly conducted three disaster drills prior to the derailment. One of the drills was an evacuation of 292 passengers from the subway. However, the simulations did not include participation by suburban fire and rescue units, D.C. Police, or the metropolitan area hospitals (NTSB, 1982:46).
EXAMPLE: Earthquake, Coalinga, California, May 2, 1983. All agencies involved in the response to Coalinga did have disaster plans. However, most of the plans were not coordinated with those of other agencies and jurisdictions, and when the quake struck, the various organizations seemed to act independently. Poor coordination among the responders resulted in misunderstandings, delays, and duplication of effort (Seismic Safety Comm, 1983:74; Kallsen, 1983:29; Tierney, 1985b:33).
PRINCIPLEFor disaster planning to be effective, it must be inter-organizational.
There are two types of organizations in particular that are frequently overlooked in community disaster responses. The first of these is the military. The second is the private sector, especially private hospitals (Stallings, 1971:28,30; Hildebrand, 1980:12).
REALISTIC SUPPORT FOR DISASTER PLANNING
Resources Necessary to Carry Out the Plan
One of the reasons that disaster plans may not be put into effect when disaster strikes is because of the failure to provide the resources (personnel, time, money, equipment, supplies, or facilities) necessary to make the plan work (Barton, 1969:96).
EXAMPLE: Hyatt Hotel Skywalk Collapse, Kansas City, Missouri, July 17, 1981. Although the use of a medical emergency triage tag (METTAG) was designated by the Kansas City disaster plan, the necessary materials were not available the night of the disaster. Therefore, triage tags were not used. Similarly, identification arm bands prescribed in the disaster plan were not available (Orr, 1983:602,603).
Plans may be developed, but funding not made available for equipment and supplies. Time and money may not be budgeted for the development of disaster training programs. Many emergency organizations operate on a 24-hour-a-day basis. This means that ongoing training sessions must be repeated for each shift, or personnel must come in on their day off (but overtime pay for this may not be budgeted). Persons may be assigned disaster planning tasks, but not given the paid time to carry them out effectively and still meet their routine work obligations. Rather, they may have to donate their free time. Few rewards and little recognition are provided to induce knowledgeable and experienced persons to become involved in disaster preparedness activities. It is little wonder that communities that allow planning to occur in this context-get "what they pay for." If disaster planning is to result in more than "paper" plans, the planning process must be tied to the resources necessary to carry out the mandate (Drabek, 1986:386; Seismic Safety Comm, 1979:42; Kilijanek, 1981:41; Dynes, 1981:74; May, 1985:45; Mushkatel, 1985:51).
Status of the Disaster Planning Office
In order to gain the attention, respect, and cooperation of other governmental offices, disaster planning must be given a place in the governmental hierarchy that provides the necessary status, authority, and support (Stevenson, 1981:42). Unfortunately, disaster planning is often relegated to a position of low status in the administrative hierarchy of organizations-isolated from any existing sources of political power and from the priority-setting, budgeting, and decision-making processes (Drabek, 1986:53; Tierney, 1985b:74).
There is a theoretical advantage when the disaster preparedness office functions as a staff position to the governmental chief executive officer, independent of other governmental subdivisions. When community disaster planning is relegated: to a single agency such as the fire or sheriff s department, its priorities sometimes take second place to those of the agency. Also, cooperation with other agencies can be dampened because the disaster office is not seen as a neutral body.
However, such an "independent" position is not always the most advantageous. Sometimes an individual sheriff or fire chief can offer support, legitimacy, and authority to disaster planning which more than offsets the theoretical advantages of an "independent" disaster planning office. A wise preparedness director will seek a niche for his agency that provides the strongest base of support. The exact location of this niche will vary from one community to another (Tierney, 1985b:74; Drabek, 1987:194,233).
INVOLVEMENT OF DISASTER PLAN USERS
Knowledge of the Plan
Disaster preparedness cannot be accomplished unless the plan is known by the participants (Quarantelli, 1981a:17; Adams, 1981a:25). History has shown us the consequences of this fact.
EXAMPLE: The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, April 18-19, 1906. The third floor of the fire station on Bush Street was the official residence of Chief Dennis Sullivan. When the quake struck, it toppled a set of brick smokestacks which plummeted through the roof, critically injuring the Chief. He was taken unconscious to the Southern Pacific Hospital and died 3 days later. San Francisco will never know what might have happened if the Chief had not been injured. He, more than any man in the city, had been aware of the frightful fire potential presented by the miles of crowded wooden buildings. Apparently unbeknownst to anyone else, he had long before laid plans to stop the kind of conflagration that could result if the city's water supply were disrupted. There was water in the bay, and there were ways to pump it into the city (Bronson, 1959:29, 40).
EXAMPLE: The Evacuation of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, November 10, 1979. After the derailment of a Canadian Pacific Railway train in 1979, chlorine leaking from one of the tank cars made it necessary to evacuate 220,000 residents of Mississauga, including three hospitals and several nursing homes. The evacuation was successful because of the preplanning, training, and experience of the Peel Regional Police Force. The Peel Police plan was not only a good plan, but it was known to the members of the force. This was because of the requirement that all officers know the plan in order to pass promotional examinations (Drabek, 1986:120; Quarantelli, 1982a:H-36).
Disaster plans, in order to be functional, must be tied to training programs (Casper, 1983; Quarantelli, 1985a:21; Dynes, 1981:75). It is during training sessions and drills that various operational problems can be encountered and resolved (Adams, 1981a:25). Unfortunately, although 83% of local governments have disaster plans, only 52% actually test these plans (Mushkatel, 1985:51), and only 42.2% of counties and 27.7% of cities test them annually (Drabek, 1985a:86).
Agencies are often more easily motivated to participate in practical simulations and training programs than to expend valuable resources developing rigid and complex written plans whose value they question. Practical courses such as those put on by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Emergency Training Center or the California Specialized Training Institute are but a couple of examples (Seismic Safety Comm, 1979:26).
Designation of Positions Rather Than Persons
It is important that participants in the disaster response know how to carry out the plan even in the absence of certain key individuals. Therefore, plans should be written in terms of positions (for example, the on-call administrative supervisor, or the acting chief, rather than in terms of particular persons. Succession of authority should be covered by the plan (for example, who is in charge if the mayor is out of town) (Worth, 1977:166; Quarantelli, 1983:121).
EXAMPLE: Earthquake, Coalinga, California, May 2,1983. Bob Semple was Coalinga's public information director and a volunteer emergency medical technician. When he got back to his office, he had to dig through the rubble for his copy of the county disaster plan. The first thing it said to do was to find the incident commander, who was supposed to be the Coalinga Fire Chief. Unfortunately, the Fire Chief was out of town. Using his car CB radio, Semple did manage to contact the captain in charge of the fire department, and they began to try and get things organized. (It was a Fresno County Sheriff's lieutenant who subsequently assumed the position of incident commander.) (Arnett, 198361)
Acceptance of the Plan
According to a 1979 report, city managers and county executives feel that state and federal disaster agencies require the writing of very complicated and lengthy disaster plans. City managers said they had read the plan once, did not know where it was now, and wouldn't use it in a disaster anyway (Seisndc Safety Comm, 1979:19). As stated by one city official:
|"Once you get your plan approved by the Office of Emergency Services, go bury it and write a plan which meets your needs." (Seismic Safety Comm, 1979:19)|
And an emergency services coordinator put it this way:
|She pointed to a 3-inch volume on the shelf and said that it was the official city disaster plan. She called it a "compliance plan-a term that was used by emergency services directors around the state to describe the plan that had been submitted to the Office of Emergency Services. From the desk drawer she withdrew a thin handbook, stating that this was the city's real plan. This consisted of a list of agencies, contacts in the agencies, telephone numbers, a list of where to get various kinds of equipment and supplies, and a checklist of actions to take in various types of disasters (Seismic Safety Comm, 1979:19).|
The point to be made is that disaster plans must be acceptable to the elected officials, the departments that will implement them, and even to those the plan is intended to benefit [the public]. The consequence of ignoring this principle is that the resulting plans may also be ignored (Gratz, 1972:39,50).
Importance of the Planning Process
One aspect of disaster planning often overlooked is the importance of the process (Drabek, 1986:53; Wenger, 1986:72). Often it is more important than the written document that results. One reason for this is that those who participate in developing the plan are more likely to accept it. This is preferred over adopting a plan written by someone else who may not understand local circumstances. But, there is another aspect of equal importance-the personal contacts that develop. A number of researchers have observed that pre-disaster contacts among representatives of emergency organizations result in smoother operations in subsequent disasters. Organizations are more likely to interface if the contact is not with total strangers. Furthermore, in the process of planning, the participants become familiar with the roles of other individuals and organizations involved in the disaster response (Dynes, 1978; Drabek, 1986:125; Quarantelli, 1983:120,130). (See Chapter 5)
PRINCIPLEThe process of planning is more important than the written document that results.
Planning by the Users
One of the reasons disaster plans become "paper" plans is because they are often composed by civil defense officials or disaster planning offices rather than by the emergency agencies that have to carry out the response (Gratz, 1972:48). This pattern has its roots in the historical wartime focus of civil defense in the United States (Blanchard, 1985). Planning for wartime civil defense was based on the assumption that local emergency response agencies would not be acting as independent and autonomous bodies, but would act as part of a "military-like," line organizational structure under the direction of the federal government. With an emphasis on an enemy attack scenario, civil defense planning was based on military experience, and civil defense officials were often appointed who had a military background (Irwin, 1984).
Even after the "dual use" concept (preparedness applicable both to enemy attack and peacetime disasters) was introduced in the early 1970s, civil defense planning was seen as an effort to get local governments to comply with federal policy. In order to receive federal civil defense money, local government had to comply with complex paperwork requirements and create written disaster plans according to specific rules. Since the federal perspective was based on a military orientation, little of the required planning dealt with issues critical to the realities of emergency response in the civilian context.
It is within this historical context that planning is still often seen as something that is done by a civil defense office (or what is now often called an emergency management agency) for the community's emergency response organizations (e.g., fire, law enforcement, ambulances, hospitals, Red Cross). This type of planning effort is sometimes enhanced when a disaster advisory committee composed of representatives of local emergency response organizations is formed. Unfortunately, it is still often seen as a plan imposed from the outside. For this reason, its legitimacy and effectiveness may be questioned by those for whom it is intended (Wenger, 1986:13,60; Drabek, 1987:60,62,106,178; Dynes, 1978:52; Gratz, 1972:48).
Recently, a different organizational structure for disaster planning has gained in popularity. This model is represented by a congressionally funded project called FIRESCOPE (Firefighting Resources of Southern California Organized for Potential Emergencies) which was made up of federal, state, and local firefighting agencies in Southern California. FIRESCOPE was chartered in 1972 after a series of devastating wildland fires. Its purpose was to develop coordination processes for multi-agency fire operations. The important feature of the FIRESCOPE process is planning by the users (the responders). This process has been adopted by the National Interagency Incident Management System (NIIMS) for use by federal wildland firefighting agencies on a national basis (ICS, 1983b; ICS, 1986; FEMA, 1987:5).
Planning group membership in this model is open to representatives of all those organizations likely to be participating in local emergency operations. The planning process actually describes a four-tiered decision-making and planning body (see Table 3-1):
Table 3-1. The FIRESCOPE structure for emergency and disaster planning.
(Adapted from "Exemplary Practices in Emergency Management: The
California. FIRESCOPE Program," Monograph series No. 1, Federal Emergency Management
Agency, Washington, D.C., 1987, p. 5.)
Administrative management of the planning and implementation process is through a Coordinator who is responsible to the Board of Directors. The coordinator selected should be as free as possible from the influence of any single agency or jurisdiction. If he is unduly influenced by a particular agency, his credibility and effectiveness will be compromised (ICS, 1983b; Wenger, 1986:68).
The FIRESCOPE planning process is designed so that the jurisdictional authority and responsibilities of the participating agencies are not compromised. The planning group attempts to clarify each member agency's roles and how they will interact with other member agencies (Irwin, 1988). Among the other advantages of this approach, this "planning by the users" assures that the resulting plan will be known and accepted by those who are supposed to put it into action.
Because FIRESCOPE was mandated by Congress to address the response problems of fire agencies, this model was designed primarily for fire service planning. Although it was not specifically designed for the participation of representatives of multiple disciplines such as fire, law enforcement, hospitals, and military organizations, nor of elected chief executives such as mayors, city managers, county supervisors (Irwin, 1988), the model is easily adapted to include representation by these participants. One format for elected officials might be a joint powers body (FEMA, 1983d:159) made up of a chief elected executive or his representative, from each participating political jurisdiction (e.g., city mayors, county supervisors, special district supervisors, state, and federal representatives). The board of directors would then answer to that joint powers body. This body would set overall political policy and establish inter-governmental agreements regarding budgetary support.
Disaster plans are not effective unless several requirements are first met. They must be based on valid assumptions about what happens in disasters and how people tend to behave when faced with such crises. Disaster plans must also take a "systems" perspective. They must take into account all of the organizations and persons involved in the response, even the unexpected ones. Finally, disaster plans must be familiar to those that will use them, and accepted by them as legitimate and appropriate. Plans that do not fit these criteria may only succeed in creating a false sense of security in the community for which they are written. In contrast to the traditional approach to disaster planning, where the civil defense authorities establish planning requirements for the responders, there is a new and more effective model. This new approach is for the directors of the agencies themselves to determine their needs and to establish multi-agency coordination arrangements. The coordinator for this planning effort is selected by the agency directors and acts on their behalf. This approach tends to assure that planning corresponds to local needs and that the resulting plan is accepted and understood by those who will need to use it.
Public official attitudes toward disaster preparedness in California, Publication No. SSC 79-05, 1979. Available from: Seismic Safety Commission, 1900 K St, Suite 100, Sacramento, Calif 95814 (free).