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Coordination of responding resources is a major problem in disasters.
This photo shows emergency personnel and equipment outside the Kansas City Hyatt Hotel
after the skywalk collapse of July 17, 1981. (Courtesy of the Kansas
City Fire Department, Kansas City, Missouri.)
Disasters pose problems for resource management that are different from those in daily emergencies. Disaster tasks may require the use of resources (personnel, facilities, supplies, and equipment) from multiple organizations and jurisdictions and may also require the use of unusual resources. Much of the emphasis of disaster planning in many communities has traditionally been on the mobilization and reinforcement of resources. And, indeed, procedures for this purpose are important. More recently, however, it has been recognized that uncontrolled mobilization and over-response are common problems in disasters. When they occur, coordination of response can be significantly complicated. This chapter discusses several problems that disasters pose for resource management and some approaches for handling them.
THE PROBLEM OF OVER-RESPONSE
One of the assumptions that often guides disaster planning is that the primary problem is one of mobilizing enough resources Quarantelli, 1983:104). In fact, some persons have defined disasters as, "emergencies that exceed the available resources." (Orr, 1983:601; ACEP, 1976:901; ACEP:2-1, 5-15; Cohen, 1982b:24; Comm on EMS, 1971; Holloway, 1978:60) However, this is not always the case. The problem of too many resources is coming to be recognized as a pattern which is found, at some time or another, in many disasters. When resources are present in greater amounts than needed, they can greatly complicate the already difficult problems of coordination and communication (Wenger, 1986:v; Quarantelli, 1970a:384; Quarantelli, 1972:69; Quarantelli, 1983:78,80; Golec, 1977; Stout, 1981:42; Williams, 1956:660). In the more extreme cases, excessive influx of resources has even been observed to physically impede activity at the scene.
EXAMPLE: Nine minutes after a tornado hit, an ambulance was dispatched to the scene. The EMT on board was asked to make an assessment and report back. After asking a couple of questions of people at the scene, the EMT estimated there were 150 injuries and radioed back, saying, "Send everything avail-able; it's a big one." This assessment was made in 2 minutes, and ambulances arrived from all over the state. However, the estimate was totally wrong, and outside ambulances were not needed at all. Three times the ambulances necessary arrived, many of which got flat tires and blocked the roadways Quarantelli, 1983:68).
EXAMPLE: Coliseum explosion, Indianapolis, Indiana, October 31, 1963. "Literally hundreds of nurses, doctors, first aid volunteers, wreckers, cranes, station wagons ... outside the fairgrounds made it difficult to get inside the Coliseum. A mass of humanity and equipment had converged and filled almost all the space within and just outside the building ...... Finally, the Chief of Police gave the order to bar any further traffic, including ambulances and first aid personnel, from entering the fairgrounds." (Drabek, 1968:19)
There are five main reasons why resource excesses may occur in disasters:
After disaster impact, the basic resources still available in the community may be underestimated (Mileti, 1975:85; Faupel, 1985:58).
Manpower of Emergency Organizations
Police departments, fire departments, ambulance companies, and hospitals routinely operate 24 hours a day. By calling in off-duty personnel, these organizations may be able to actually double or triple their manpower. Furthermore, these organizations may be able to increase their capacity by shifting people from their regular tasks to more disaster-relevant duties. The police personnel assigned to records, crime prevention, and vice, for example, may be shifted to patrol or traffic control duties (Dynes, 1981:44,62; Quarantelli, 1972:69; Kennedy, 1970:354).
Food and Clothing
Historically, food shortages have not been a characteristic of disasters in the United States. Food supplies in households, retail groceries, and in wholesale warehouses has been sufficient to maintain a community for as long as several weeks. Paradoxically, disaster victims sometimes have eaten better than in normal times. Power failures thawed frozen food which then had to be eaten (Mileti, 1975:115).
EXAMPLE: Earthquake, Anchorage, Alaska, March 27, 1964. After the Alaska earthquake of 1964, food was not a serious problem for anyone. This was in spite of the fact that some households lost a considerable amount of food from broken containers and thawed freezers. Only one family had to obtain meals from a kitchen set up in the neighborhood by the Army. Many wives pooled foods with their friends or relatives and cooked for the group on whatever stove was available. People needing food could go to the supermarkets where guards were patrolling or the clerks were cleaning up and ask for an item that was needed. If it could be found undamaged, it was freely given to the asker. Sometimes food came from unexpected sources within the community. One farmer who did not have enough feed for his chickens, killed 40, dressed and froze them. He gave several to needy families in one hard-hit neighborhood. Another family had about 35 dozen eggs which they were going to prepare for an Easter celebration by a local men's service club. Many of the eggs survived the quake and were given to the Salvation Army to distribute (Lanfis,1984:24).
Medical Facilities, Supplies, and Personnel
Medical supplies are often available at nearby hospitals or wholesale warehouses (Quarantelli, 1972:69). Loss of hospital capability is not common in disasters. Historically, it is quite rare for American hospitals to be damaged or destroyed by the impact, or for them to be incapacitated by loss of water or power (Quarantelli, 1983:81). In a study of 29 major disasters, the Disaster Research Center found that supply shortages were experienced by only 6% of the hospitals, and personnel shortages occurred in only 2%. Many hospitals reported that they had more regular staff and volunteers than they could effectively use (Quarantelli, 1983:82,109). As stated by one researcher:
"Unlike less-developed countries, the United States, except perhaps in very poor, rural communities, has enough skilled personnel and adequate medical facilities to respond to most disasters-short of truly catastrophic events. The main barrier that impedes effective EMS delivery in disasters is, rather, the insufficient level of awareness, education, and organization." (Tierney, 1985a:83)
As long ago as 1956, Raker observed that most hospitals taking care of disaster victims did not have to carry out a large number of surgical procedures (Raker, 1956:35). This pattern can still be seen in recent domestic disasters of some magnitude.
EXAMPLE: Hyatt Hotel Skywalk Collapse, Kansas City, Missouri, July 17, 1981. When two elevated walkways crowded with people collapsed and fell on patrons dancing below, 113 died, and 200 were injured (90 of whom were admitted to the hospital). Yet only 29 surgical procedures were carried out in the following 3 days, and the busiest hospital carried out only 6 of these during the evening of the disaster (Patterson, 1981:414; KC Health Dept, 1981:13; Orr, 1983:601).
There are two main reasons why the hospital operating room load is often not heavier:
In the disasters studied by the Disaster Research Center an average of only 10-15% of the casualties were serious enough to require even overnight admission to the hospital (Quarantelli, 1983:81; Golec, 1977:176). In most disasters, casualties pose more problems in their numbers than in their severity.
OBSERVATIONIn a study of 29 major disasters, only 10-15% of the casualties were injured seriously enough to require overnight admission to the hospital; only 6% of the hospitals suffered supply shortages, and only 2% had personnel shortages.
Outside and Volunteered Assistance
When calamity strikes, people want to help. This desire to assist is manifested in a number of ways. Civilians in and near the disaster area become involved in search and rescue, giving first aid, providing food, shelter, and comfort. Sometimes the aid is given in spite of considerable risk to the provider. Those living farther away send food, clothing, medical supplies, and money. Surrounding governmental and public safety agencies send in personnel, ambulances, fire apparatus, helicopters, and other resources. These offers of assistance may come from distant locations in other parts of the country or even from foreign countries (Fritz, 1956:25; Bronson, 1959:102).
This flood of generosity may have some unforeseen consequences. Often this inundation of assistance is unsolicited and greatly exceeds the needs of the stricken community. When this happens, the inpouring of resources, however generously motivated, complicates the coordination of disaster response efforts.
In spite of the perception that disaster stricken communities are in need of resources, it may be very difficult for outsiders to get accurate information on actual needs. In part, this is due to the inherent uncertainty of the disaster situation. Additionally, it is because many communities have no generally accepted set of procedures for the multi-organizational collection and analysis of information about the disaster-so that resource needs can be accurately determined and resource requests coordinated. One factor that probably contributes to the quantity of "unsolicited" outside assistance is the difficulty the providers experience in determining who is in charge of the overall disaster response and who has accurate knowledge about resource needs.
OBSERVATIONThe lack of a mechanism for outsiders to find out whether or not their assistance is needed may contribute to over-response in disasters.
One of the ways that generosity is manifested in disasters is in the flood of donations that frequently pours into the impacted area (Fritz, 1956:22; Williams, 1956:660; Moore, 1958:169).
EXAMPLE: Earthquake and Fire, San Francisco, April 18-19, 1906. Outside aid began to enter the earthquake and fire-ravaged city before the ashes were cold. Food, medicines, cots, and blankets were the vanguard of hundreds of tons of relief supplies that would pour into the city. Within a few days, $8 million [$103,728,000 in 1983 dollars] had been raised to help San Francisco, and in the months to follow, another million would be added to that. Railroad cars arrived first from the coastal cities of Los Angeles, Seattle, Stockton, Vancouver, and San Diego. Within a week, trains arrived from all over. A steamer and a bargeload of provisions arrived from Sacramento along with the message:
"San Francisco can count on Sacramento for the last bit of bread and meat in the house, can draw on us for every dollar we have, and then you can have our blood if you need it."
Ogden, Utah, had no bread for days, because it all went to San Francisco. Boys of the Chemewa, Oregon, Indian School bought flour with their savings and baked 830 loaves of bread for San Francisco which was sent by Wells Fargo Express. The New York City Merchants Association ordered 14 freight cars of foodstuffs by phone to be sent from Omaha. In one month 1,800 freight-carloads of supplies came into the city. Even the entertainment world joined in to help. Barnum & Bailey contributed a day's receipts of $20,000 [approx. $260,000 in 1983 dollars]. Sarah Bernhardt held two benefit performances, and George M. Cohan sold papers on Wall Street, some of them going for as high as $1,000. In Los Angeles, men on the streets with megaphones begged for money for San Francisco. Within 3 days of the quake, Los Angeles had sent or was ready to send 75 freight cars of donations to the stricken city (Bronson, 1959:99).
In some cases, donations may pour into disaster-stricken communities far in excess of local needs, and the recipient communities may be unprepared to handle the deluge:
EXAMPLE: Tornado, White County, Arkansas, March 21, 1952. In 1952, a series of tornadoes struck six states. White County, Arkansas, was severely hit; forty-nine people were killed and 675 injured. The following day, large amounts of food and clothing donations began to flow into Searcy, the hardest hit area. A warehouse had to be found and opened to accommodate the donations that arrived in carloads, moving vans, railroad express trucks, planes and freight cars. A large American Legion auditorium was secured for storage, but it was filled to the ceiling within 2 hours. An auto parts building with a capacity of about 84,000 cubic feet was filled within the next 12 hours. Another building, covering half a city block, was filled by noon the next day. After that, tent warehouses were opened up, then a gymnasium and an additional warehouse. All of these storage areas were promptly and completely filled. The sorting and processing of this material took the efforts of over 500 volunteers working for 2 weeks (Fritz, 1956:23).
EXAMPLE: Tornado, Waco, Texas, May 11, 1953. The unexpected volume of clothing donations (an estimated 31/2 boxcars full) created a problem because no provision had been made to receive it. A warehouse was opened, but the amount of arriving material almost crowded the workers out of the building. Clothing continued to arrive for a month, over 3 tons of it remaining in the Salvation Army warehouse after the disaster period had passed (Fritz, 1956:25; Moore, 1958:169).
Sometimes persons in one organization assume another organization is in need and make resource requests for it without confirming that the need exists.
EXAMPLE: Tornado, Flint, Michigan, June 9, 1953. Hurley Hospital (where 750 [approx. 80%] of the casualties were treated) had an adequate supply of blood on hand for the disaster. Nevertheless, a Red Cross volunteer, and independently, Flint's mayor called all the local radio stations to have an appeal made for blood donors. As a result, the hospital was suddenly deluged with 2,000 people eager to donate blood. This proved to be extremely disruptive to the hospital's disaster operations. At about the same time, the Red Cross was disrupted by a flood of donors bringing unneeded cots and bedding as a result of public appeals made by Hurley Hospital, the Mayor, and the Salvation Army (Rosow, 1977:167,169).
Large Numbers of Responding Organization
Another factor contributing to resource-convergence is the large numbers of organizations that often respond (Mileti, 1975:121). There are several reasons why this may occur:
Unsolicited aid may come from organized ambulance, rescue, and other emergency services Quarantelli, 1983:71). Unsolicited aid is often offered to hospitals by off-duty medical and hospital personnel (Drabek, 1968:21). Physicians and nurses who are not members of the hospital staff also may show up and offer assistance (Quarantelli, 1970a:388).
In a number of disasters it has been observed that the response exceeded the manpower needs created by the disaster. In Quarantelli's study of 29 disasters, there was an average of only one patient transported per organization at the scene. (That is, one patient per organization, not per vehicle.) Furthermore, vehicles almost never made multiple runs Quarantelli, 1983:22,71).
EXAMPLE: Airliner Crash, Kenner, Louisiana, July 9, 1982. Unsolicited ambulance and rescue units came from as far as 70 miles away, but the disaster left only four seriously injured survivors. "More doctors and nurses than planned or expected arrived at the scene. Command personnel were unaware that they were even coming (and therefore could not cancel their response). While well intentioned, the flood of personnel and equipment overwhelmed site authorities . . . " making management and control difficult (Morris, 1982:65).
EXAMPLE: Earthquake, Coalinga, California, May 2, 1983. "The initial emergency response by area public safety agencies and volunteers was commendable; however, the response came close to bordering on over-reaction. Within hours, the city had 30 ambulances and five medivac helicopters at their disposal, none of which were requested." Ambulances came over 100 miles from the San Francisco Bay Area without having received an official request by the Coalinga authorities (Seismic Safety Comm, 1983:81,86).
"Whatever planning is undertaken, it can rarely prepare for the quantity and quality of volunteers that appear." (E. L. Quarantelli Disaster Research Center University of Delaware Quarantelli, 1965:111)
Another cause of resources convergence is the large numbers of volunteers who often respond (Bush, 1981:1; Fritz, 1956:40). The United States has a long and vigorous tradition of volunteerism. Almost half of this country's ambulance services are volunteer (Dick,1982:67). Volunteerism is a tradition in the fire service, support of the Olympic Games, and numerous social and philanthropic causes. This altruism does not vanish in the face of disaster. If anything, it becomes stronger Quarantelli, 1970b:625; Dynes, 1970a:436).
Not everyone anticipates the extent to which unofficial voluntary and unsolicited help is offered when a disaster strikes. In fact, within the stricken area, more potential volunteers become available, because schools and non-essential businesses close down (Quarantelli, 1972:69). In some disasters, more rescue and relief has been provided by unofficial civilian volunteers than by formal emergency or disaster agencies. In contrast to volunteers who participate in the response to routine emergencies, disaster volunteers are often unsolicited, and volunteer activity is unexpected (Raker, 1956:20; Williams, 1956:657; Barton, 1969:132,144,147,161; Dynes, 1974:30; Dynes, 1981:xviii; Quarantelli, 1983:36).
EXAMPLE: Tornado, White County, Arkansas, March 21, 1952. After impact, 1,000 residents of a nearby town (representing 26% of the adult population) volunteered their services in the four medical centers during the first night (Fritz, 1956:43).
EXAMPLE: Tornado, Cheyenne, Wyoming, July 16,1979. During the first 2 hours after impact, an estimated 29% of the total search and rescue effort was completed by individuals who were not affiliated with any emergency organization (Drabek, 1981:119).
EXAMPLE: Floods, Texas Hill Country, August 1-4, 1978. When three Texas counties suffered extensive flooding in 1978, two-thirds of those needing rescue or help received it from persons unaffiliated with any emergency organization (Drabek, 1981:68).
Figure 6-1. The Cheyenne, Wyoming tornado of July 16,1979 is a good
example of individuals not affiliated with any emergency organization helping out in an
emergency. (Courtesy of Peter Willing.)
Difficulties with the volunteer response.
Organizations frequently have difficulty coordinating the efforts of volunteer workers with their own efforts. This is especially true when these people have never worked together before. Volunteers may have varying skill levels and lack familiarity with organizational routines or operating procedures. Organizations making use of volunteers cannot always count on the required task being completed, or if completed, it is uncertain with what efficiency, speed, or quality the task will be carried out. Furthermore, volunteers are not always familiar with the standard terms or routes used in communications. They don't know who to ask for what, or under what conditions (and to whom) to report difficulties Quarantelli, 1970a-388; Quarantelli, 1983:21; Dynes, 1981:33; Killian, 1953:6,16; Faupel, 1985:52).
Benefits of the volunteer response.
In contrast to the picture painted above is the significant role volunteers play in decreasing the toll of death and destruction caused by disasters (Barton, 1969:132).
EXAMPLE: Tornado, Lake Pomona, Kansas, July 17,1978. On June 17, 1978, the showboat Whippoorwill, carrying 60 passengers and crew on Lake Pomona, Kansas, was struck by a tornado and capsized. At least a dozen nearby boaters rushed to the overturned vessel. One rescuer brought 15 to 18 people to shore who had been pulled from the water. He then returned to the Whippoorwill--and diving repeatedly into the water-located and helped to the surface several persons trapped below. Spontaneous action by civilian volunteers was responsible for all of the lives saved in this incident. Even if there had been an elaborate rescue system in the area, it is unlikely that it would have reached the victims sooner than did the volunteers (Drabek, 1981:53; Kilijanek, 1980:68).
EXAMPLE: Earthquake, Coalinga, California, May 2, 1983. A report stated: "Local untrained citizens did most of initial search and rescue work, including control of utilities on a block-by-block basis." "The immediate community response of untrained citizen volunteer disaster service workers was vital to the fire suppression, search and rescue function and utility control to alleviate fire hazards. Without this responsiveness a much larger disaster would have resulted " (Seismic Safety Comm, 1983:97,98)
Figure 6-2. After the showboat Whippoorwill was capsized by
a tornado, June 17, 1978, the spontaneous search and rescue effort of nearby recreational
boaters was responsible for all of the lives saved. (Courtesy Topeka
Capital-journal, Topeka, Kansas.)
INTER-ORGANIZATIONAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
It is important for response coordinators and planners to appreciate the tendency toward over-response in disasters. Although it is unlikely that ti pattern can be completely controlled, effective measures can be taken to reduce it and channel it. In part, this can be accomplished by the development of procedures for the multi-organizational management of resources, so that needs can be accurately determined and requests coordinated. This helps to decrease exaggerated estimates of damages. and injuries and the resultant appeals for mass assistance which may not be needed.
Overall Needs Assessment
A prerequisite to effective and efficient resource management is an accurate overall analysis of the disaster situation and the available resources. The data for this analysis must be collected from multiple organizations in order to get an idea of the "big picture. " The failure to carry out this task has been a frequently observed problem in disasters (Parr, 1970:425; Mileti, 1975:80; Dynes, 1978:58; Quarantelli, 1983:65,114; Scanlon, 1985:123; Kilijanek, 1979:5; Rosow, 1977:136; Yutzy, 1969:118,156; Stallings, 1971:30). Often this is because it is unclear whose responsibility this is (Drabek, 1986:54). It is important to anticipate the fact that initial information about the disaster situation is often inaccurate (Dynes, 1974:77; Quarantelli, 1983:68). For this reason, needs assessment has to be an ongoing procedure that continues throughout the duration of the incident.
PRINCIPLEProcedures for ongoing needs assessment are a prerequisite to efficient resource management in disasters.
Needs assessment involves two major processes: 1) situation analysis; and 2) resource analysis. Situation analysis is the collection of information about the extent and character of the disaster itself and the problems that have to be tackled. Resource analysis involves the collection of information about the resources needed to tackle the problems.
Overall Situation Analysis
Situation analysis difficulties in disasters. The responsibility for overall situation analysis in disasters often is not clearly delineated Even when situation analysis is carried out in disasters, it is usually done by individual organizations who seek out primarily that information of importance to their own organization's activities. Often, critical information possessed by one organization and needed by another is not shared (see Chapter 4).
EXAMPLE: Tornado, Flint-Beecher, Michigan, June 8, 1953. Initially, the local post of the Michigan State Police got a report that the center of impact was at a drive-in theater. They were also under the impression that the direct road to the drive-in was blocked by debris and, therefore, impassible. Shortly thereafter, a fire truck from a nearby town worked its way past the drive-in, found that the road was in fact open and that there had not been a severe impact there after all. But what the firefighters knew was not communicated to the State Police. The State Police, assuming heavy casualties at the drive-in and that the direct route was blocked, sent badly needed ambulances there on a 2-hour drive on a roundabout detour. Furthermore, when the State Police discovered the correct situation, they did not inform the Red Cross, which sent a field radio unit to the drive-in (Barton, 1963:102; Rosow, 1977:136).
The prompt receipt of information about a disaster situation allows hospitals to start mustering and organizing their resources (Raker, 1956:16,33). However, transmission of this information from the disaster site to community hospitals is a recurring problem. In 29 disasters, the Disaster Research Center found fewer than 12% of the cases where hospitals received useful information from the scene about the number of casualties to expect, or the type and severity of injuries (Quarantelli, 1983:67,91; Golec, 1977:174).
EXAMPLE: The Air Florida Crash, Washington, D.C., January 13, 1982. At Washington Hospital Center's Medstar adult trauma unit, confusion reigned. Park Police officials instructed Medstar personnel that 4 or 5 victims would be arriving in two helicopters. When the patients failed to arrive, Medstar officials manned both radios and telephones in their effort to find out what was going on. "When an Army helicopter landed with a female patient suffering from hypothermia, a collapsed lung, multiple compound fractures, and internal bums from inhalation of jet fuel, she was taken to the hospital's 4th floor operating room-in order to reserve Medstar's single surgical bed for more critically injured victims. None ever arrived." (Goodwin, 1982:14)
EXAMPLE: Earthquake, Coalinga, California, May 2, 1983. Hospitals in nearby Fresno received little information from the county emergency operations center. Apparently, the designated hospital radio notification (HEAR) system was not used (Seismic Safety Comm, 1983:86).
In a number of cases, the hospital's initial information was from the first arriving casualties or ambulances (Neff, 1977:186; Golec, 1977:173).
EXAMPLE: Metrorail Crash, Washington, D.C., January 13, 1982. None of the major hospitals in the city were notified of the accident. The first notification that George Washington University Hospital received was from a paramedic who arrived with a victim of the Air Florida crash (which occurred 30 minutes before the Metrorail crash). The hospital never received any information regarding the number of casualties, type of injuries, or estimated arrival time. Most of what D.C. area hospitals learned of the disaster came from incoming EMS personnel or the news media. Furthermore, the hospitals were not successful in reaching the appropriate officials to obtain additional information. This made it very difficult to determine the level of preparedness necessary for incoming victims (Edelstein, 1982:159).
Sources of information.
Disaster situation analysis may be accomplished by the use of multi-disciplinary damage assessment teams.
EXAMPLE: Earthquake, Anchorage, Alaska, March 27, 1964. Damage assessment teams were organized at the Safety Building and dispatched to make a block-by-block reconnaissance. These teams were composed of 6 to 10 persons (e.g., a mechanic, an electrician, a plumber, a medical person). They were asked to assess damage, shut off utilities, search for survivors, and return with a report of their findings (Yutzy, 1969:120).
Alternatively, radio reports of situation data from each agency can be collected at a central point where it is collated and analyzed. The overall situation analysis is then composed into a report, including appropriate maps, which is made available to all responders.
Additional sources of information may include:
Types of information needed for situation analysis.
Present conditions. Important information includes that related to
location and severity of damage; existing threats (fires, explosions, chemical spills, downed electrical wires, weakened structures in danger of collapse); numbers, locations, types, and severities of injuries; and numbers and locations of trapped victims.
Expected conditions. Examples of factors that might influence expected conditions include: rate of fire spread; rate of river rise; seismic aftershocks; tsunami (tidal wave) or seiche (earthquake-generated wave in a lake or other closed body of water); hazardous spills due to earthquake; duration of the incident; weather influences; and downed power lines after storms.
Impact of expected conditions. Examples of impacts of expected conditions include: evacuation areas; public shelter and feeding; need for sandbagging; possibility of further casualties; need for replacement personnel and reinforcements; need for feeding, sleeping, and sanitation facilities; need for fuel; and vehicle and equipment maintenance or replacement.
Overall Resource Analysis
Resource analysis difficulties in disasters. Ascertaining what resources are present at the disaster is often quite difficult. This is because:
Types of information needed for resource analysis.
Information needed for resource analysis includes data on what objectives need to be accomplished, what resources are needed to accomplish them, what resources are present and/or assigned, and what resources are available. When the situation analysis is complete, the results should identify those general problems that have to be tackled (incident objectives). These are broken down into specific tasks that are delegated to the various organizations present and their subdivisions. For each delegated task, the group responsible for accomplishing it must then indicate the resources it needs to do so. The indicated resource needs are then compared with resources present to assess the resources that need to be requested or reassigned.
Check-in areas. One technique for obtaining and providing information on what resources are present is the use of check-in areas (Drabek,1981:112).
EXAMPLE: Tornado, Waco, Texas, May 11, 1953. "As organization proceeded, three location points were set up at which personnel were to report.... These check points greatly facilitated the use of volunteers. When a particular type of skill was needed, it was often found that a person with that skiff was actually present at one of the points. Furthermore, this prevented a situation that had occurred several times: a person would volunteer for a particular type of work and be told he was not needed; later, when he was needed; those in charge of personnel were unable to locate him." (Moore, 1958:16)
A useful arrangement is to have law enforcement agencies set up a security perimeter around the disaster site. At roadblocks, they can then divert incoming responders to a nearby check-in area located outside the perimeter. Such an off-incident reporting area has also been called a staging area or mobilization center (Brunacini, 1978; ICS, 1983b; 1983). The person in charge of the check-in area has the responsibility for keeping track of those who arrive and conveying that information to the incident command post. As the responders are needed at the disaster site, they are requested from the check-in area by the command post. They are then assigned a communications frequency and told where and to whom to report as seen in Figure 6-3.
This type of arrangement has several advantages:
Figure 6-3. The disaster check-in area.
The technique, to be maximally effective, does require the prompt establishment of a security perimeter, and that those manning it know that the check-in area is functioning, where it is, and that incoming responders should be directed to it.
Figure 6-4. Search dogs are an example of "special"
resources needed in disasters. This photo shows Marcia Koenig and her dog, Bear, combing
the rubble from the Wichita Fall, Texas, tornado of April 10, 1979. (Courtesy
National Association for Search & Rescue. Photographer: Bob Koenig.)
Disaster resource-acquisition directory. Disaster tasks may require "special" resources--cranes, search dogs, satellite communications equipment, devices for listening for signs of life in the rubble, and equipment or skilled personnel for cleaning up hazardous chemical spills.
EXAMPLE: Volcano Eruption, Mt. St. Helens, Washington, May 18, 1980. A basic problem was establishing a communication network among multiple base camps, over 30 helicopters in the air, and the emergency operations centers in Vancouver and Olympia. The solution was accomplished by tapping a unique and recently developed resource. A C-130 aircraft carrying a specially designed communications jeep was requested through the State Department of Emergency Services via the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Illinois and dispatched from March Air Force Base in California. The jeep was equipped to provide communications on most radio frequencies as well as by a NASA ATS-3 communications satellite. The C-130, which was also equipped with sophisticated communications gear that allowed it to monitor up to 65 aircraft at one time, was used as an airborne command post (Kilijanek, 1981:67).
Figure 6-5. "'Special" disaster resources include heavy
earth-moving equipment such as that in this photo of search and rescue operations
following the San Fernando Valley earthquake of February 9, 1971. (Courtesy
Los Angeles County Fire Department, Los Angeles, California.)
Some of these "special" resources. may not be part of the routine emergency inventory, and their access may not be covered by routine procedures (Drabek, 1981:xx; Drabek, 1986:185; Lantis, 1984:7; Gray, 1981:70; Ross, 1982:64; Scholl, 1984:287).
Figure 6-6. Heavy mobile cranes are a "special"
resource that may be needed in disasters. This illustration shows the search and rescue
operations at the Hyatt Hotel skywalk collapse in Kansas City, Missouri on July 17, 1981. (Courtesy Kansas City Fire Department, Kansas City, Missouri.)
Locating "special" resources is facilitated by the existence of a current and complete inventory of available material and human disaster resources (Wenger, 1986:16). The resource-acquisition directory is a list of such resources, where they can be located, and the proper procedures for requesting them. The directory may take the form of a written resource manual, index cards, or a computer data base. The latter has the advantage that it can be easily updated, and it can be shared by telephone fine or radio interconnect. However, computers are also vulnerable to electrical surge or outage, and to earthquake shaking, and this should be taken into consideration. Examples of what might be included in a directory are illustrated in Appendix B.
Priorities and Sequential Interdependence
The allocation of disaster resources depends on the task priorities established for the incident. This may be affected by the fact that some tasks are "sequentially interdependent." That is, the ability of one organization to complete its assigned task is dependent on another organization's accomplishment of a prior task (Drabek, 1986:178; Dynes, 1981:42).
For example, surgery cannot be initiated on a disaster victim unless that victim first reaches the hospital alive, and this depends on the skills applied by private ambulance paramedics in the field. But the paramedics cannot gain access to the victim until he is located in the rubble of a neighborhood of collapsed buildings. This requires the services of search dogs from private, volunteer organizations contacted through the sheriff s department. A crane to remove the entrapping rubble is then required, which the fire department obtains from a private construction firm listed in the local civil defense agency's disaster resource inventory.
Another example of sequential interdependence is the effect of disaster site activities on patient flow to hospitals. Typically, the distribution of casualties among the area hospitals is the result of decisions made at the scene, and hospitals are at the mercy of these decisions. The destination of casualties is often the result of independent decisions made by the various persons who come into contact with the victims, including police, firefighters, relatives, and civilian bystanders participating in search and rescue activities. Not rarely, this results in the bulk of casualties ending up at the closest hospital, while other facilities remain under-utilized (see Chapter 8).
Monitoring Task Progress and Resource Re-allocation
Allocation of resources based on the situation analysis can be complicated when, as so often occurs, the initial information obtained is inaccurate (Dynes, 1974:77; Quarantelli, 1983:68). Furthermore, attempts to accomplish disaster tasks are often plagued by unforeseen problems. Therefore, one cannot be certain that the various important disaster tasks will be completed as expected. This is particularly significant if the task is one upon which the accomplishment of a series of other crucial tasks is dependent. The appropriate countermeasure for this problem is the establishment of procedures to monitor the progress of the various tasks and to reassign resources to meet the conditions as they change.
Management of disaster volunteers should take the following into consideration:
For these reasons, effective coordination of disaster response must recognize and integrate volunteers, and someone must be vested with the responsibility for managing them.
One approach is to assign the responsibility for a check-in area where volunteers can report and an inventory made of their skills, abilities, and the equipment to which they have access. This may be at the same location as the check-in area for professional emergency responders or at a separate location. It is important that security personnel manning the road blocks and disaster site perimeter be aware of the check-in areas for volunteers and direct volunteers to these locations.
The effectiveness of volunteers can be enhanced by placing groups of them under the supervision of a trained member of a formal emergency organization (deputy sheriff, police officer, firefighter, National Guardsman) and assigning the group to carry out a specific task. The coordination of volunteer search and rescue efforts following disasters have been improved by this means.
EXAMPLE: Tornado, Waco, Texas, May 11, 1953. Military personnel brought organization to the search and rescue efforts by incorporating civilian volunteers into their teams. These teams were composed of about 15 men under a leader and an assistant leader. In addition, there was one member with a walkie--talkie keeping track with the command post and with other teams (Moore, 1958:14).
EXAMPLE: Tornado, Wichita Falls, Texas, April 10, 1979. By the time both the city emergency operations center and major field command post were in operation, many people in the area went to the command post to offer their assistance. The police captain in charge assigned members of emergency response organizations to direct search parties, each composed of 5 to 12of these unofficial helpers (Adams, 1981b:24).
Members of emergency organizations who are assigned to lead teams of volunteers may find themselves acting as "instant teachers," explaining procedures as they go.
EXAMPLE: Earthquake, Coalinga, California, May 2, 1983. "It was often necessary for me to stop and explain basic fireman-ship activities to the civilian on the fireground. When I asked for lines to be moved, I had to explain how to hold them, how to move them and how to put them together and operate them." (Seismic Safety Comm, 1983:116)
The coordination of volunteering organizations can be enhanced if each task assigned to volunteers is assigned to a group made up of members of a single existing organization. This preserves the existing coordination and communication procedures of intact groups and the advantages of working with familiar persons. Even if the organizations (for example, church groups, fraternal and sororal groups, clubs, unions, professional associations, private commercial firms) do not have specific emergency or disaster skills, their contribution to coordinated disaster activity is improved if their organizational structures are kept intact (Dynes, 1974:160).
In certain cases, volunteer organizations have special expertise applicable to the disaster situation. For example, organizations that provide special services to the disabled are well-adapted to handle the needs of the disabled in a disaster (Stevenson, 1981:45). The same might be said of organizations representing certain ethnic and language groups.
It is beneficial to have a process for registering volunteers as civil defense workers, so they will be covered by workers' compensation (Seismic Safety Comm, 1983:98).
A command post is a facility located at the scene of an emergency or disaster where management of site activities is carried out. In multi-organizational operations, coordination and resource management is facilitated when the leaders of the various responding organizations are located together in the same command post (Esch, 1982:167; Adams, 1980:13; Rosow, 1977:197; Moore, 1958:11). Frequently, however, different agencies involved in a disaster will each set up their own independent command posts (Best, 1980:22,25; Adams, 1982:54; Seismic Safety Comm, 1983:117). This is a situation that tends to isolate rather than unify response efforts.
Another problem at command posts is the absence of those with decision-making authority. Some organizational commanders neglect their overall command responsibilities and attempt to become involved in operations. Command refers to taking charge and making general policy decisions for the organization's overall response effort. Operations refers to the activities directly related to attacking the fire, rescuing the victims, giving emergency medical care, or arresting protesters. The effective commander does not allow himself to get bogged down in operations to the exclusion of other responsibilities, such as logistics (support) or planning. Rather, he delegates responsibility for the detailed management of these areas, while he provides overall direction (Brunacini, 1985:730,33,40; Wenger, 1986:31; 1983:16,67).
Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs)
In addition to command posts, disasters with multiple impact sites and large,complex disasters (e.g., those with significant state and federal involvement)often call for an emergency operations center (EOC). The EOC is usually established away from the disaster scene, often near governmental offices (e. g., city hall). In contrast to the command post, which is concerned with activities at the scene, the EOC establishes priorities for the distribution of resources among the various sites, and handles off-incident concerns (e.g., interaction with off-site facilities such as shelters; ordering of resources from distant jurisdictions or through state or federal disaster agencies) (FENLA, 1984b:i,A-1; Quarantelli,1979a:23,35).
The idea of using an EOC to direct disaster response was initially a civil defense concept developed primarily with wartime use in mind. In more recent times, it has come to be used rather extensively in peacetime rises (Quarantelli, 1979a:9,11).
Based on the study of 180 local disasters, the Disaster Research Center concluded that in most cases when EOCs have been used, they have functioned fairly well (Quarantelli, 1979a:9; Wenger, 1986:iii). In fact, even when an EOC is not part of the disaster plan, one will often develop spontaneously anyway. The need for inter-organizational coordination and communication simply requires it (Drabek, 1986:186). Preplanning for an EOC, however, does seem to make it function a lot more smoothly, especially early in the disaster Quarantelli, 1979a:15,16,18). Although EOCs generally work well, the following discussion will identify the areas where problems are most likely to develop if they occur.
The Number of EOCs
In some disasters, a number of separate EOCs appear, each involving a limited number of the participants in the total disaster response, and each dealing with a limited range of disaster problems. In such cases, there may be delays or deficiencies in needed information exchange among key officials located at different EOCs. In addition, persons having business with the EOC may be confused as to which one to contact. It is probably best in most cases to encourage the development of a single EOC, if maximal inter-organizational coordination is to result (Quarantelli, 1979a:12; Wenger, 1986:24,25,30). An exception to this rule might be the case where - a disaster strikes in a number of counties within a state. Then it may be appropriate to have one EOC for each county interacting with a state-level EOC. A similar model might be used with several impacted states interacting with federal authorities.
Alternative EOC Sites
The Disaster Research Center found very few communities with plans for an alternative EOC location in case the original facility could not be used or had to be abandoned. Yet, the Center estimated that in as many as one fifth of the disasters, the necessity of moving the EOC became an issue. In three cases, this was due to flooding. The probability of this hazard could have been predicted by the examination of flood plain maps available from the Army Corps of Engineers or other sources Quarantelli, 1979a:15).
Knowledge about EOC Location
In a number of cases studied, key persons and organizations were not aware that an EOC existed in the community and that it was part of the planned disaster response. Even if they knew that the plan called for an EOC to be activated, they could not indicate where it was supposed to be located. In some cases, this was because the EOC location was not clearly stated in disaster plans. In other cases, because it was not activated during disaster drills, officials were not familiar with it (Quarantelli, 1979a:14).
EOC Management Responsibility
Planning for an EOC needs to specify who is responsible for managing the facility. When this is neglected, questions arise regarding what space or communications equipment is to be allocated to what officials or organizations. Difficulties may be experienced when additional equipment or supplies are needed, or when decisions need to be made regarding who is allowed access to the facility-VIPs, non-governmental organizations, or the press, for example (Quarantelli, 1979a:22,25).
Presence of Those with Decision-making Authority
Coordination is hampered when representatives at an EOC lack the full authority, knowledge, and experience to make command and coordination decisions (Wenger, 1986:v,15; ICS, 1985a:62). Unfortunately, those assigned to the EOC often represent middle management levels of their respective organizations. This creates problems when urgent, high-level policy decisions are called for. The tendency of these managers is to follow the rules and regulations of their organizations rather strictly. On the other hand, flexibility, imagination, and initiative are needed to make the decisions required. Under these circumstances, top management representation is needed at the EOC. They have the authority and experience necessary to facilitate the type of innovative decision-
making required (Quarantelli, 1979a:22).
Organizations Represented at an EOC
Even when most local key organizations are properly represented at an EOC, there are some that are often neglected. Private sector organizations like the Red Cross and private utility companies are among those that tend to be excluded. The hospital is also one organization that is frequently in this category. Non-local organizations are not always represented at EOCs. Sometimes this is because they do not get involved early in the response, and by the time they do, the local EOC is already manned with most of the available space already taken. In some cases, local planning neglects coordination with non-local groups, and they are not notified that an EOC was being activated. In others these groups prefer to operate within their own familiar and routine channels of communication and authority Quarantelli, 1979a:18,21; Wenger, 1986:30,31).
Attention needs to be given to anticipating the change in EOC representation during different phases of the disaster. For example, prior to disaster impact, organizations responsible for restoration and rehabilitation activities do not usually need to be present at the EOC. On the other hand, representatives of organizations involved in warning, protective, and preventive activities will be important. The scope of operations for many organizations will vary during the pre-impact, impact, and post-impact time periods. Accordingly, so will their need to be represented at the EOC Quarantelli, 1979a:18).
The FIRESCOPE Multi-Agency Coordination System (AMCS)
One system that holds promise as a model for multi-organizational emergency operation centers is the Multi-Agency Coordination System (MACS). FIRE-SCOPE (Firefighting Resources of Southern California Organized for Potential Emergencies) was funded by Congress after a series of devastating fires ravaged Southern California in 1970. Its mandate was to create a coordinated emergency response system for wildland fires. Two significant outcomes of this effort were the Incident Command System (see Chapter 7) and the Multi- Agency Coordination System. Whereas the Incident Command System was
designed primarily for on-scene coordination, MACS carries out a number of region-wide functions (Chase, 1980; FEMA, 1987a:17). These include:
MACS is administered primarily through an off-incident emergency operations center called the Operations Coordination Center (OCC), which is the central information and resource coordination point for the system. The OCC maintains communications ties with numerous fire agency dispatch centers, local fire coordination centers, the National Weather Service, and, at times, the incident command post itself (Scherr, 1988). It also houses a set of computer data bases and programs to store, process, and exchange information (FEMA,1987:27; ICS, 1987:1).
MACS includes arrangements for sharing inter-agency communications equipment and inter-agency coordination frequencies on a non-interfering basis during major, multi-agency incidents (Chase, 1980:11; ICS, 1980a; Scherr, 1988). Computer programs connected with local terminals provide for region-wide dissemination of up-to-date information (Chase, 1980:13; FEMA, 1987:17). Communications between the OCC, incident sites, and agency dispatch centers is carried out primarily via telephone fine. As the situation requires, this is supplemented by various radio communications linkages (Chase, 1980:12,13; Scherr, 1988).
Situation assessment. Several different types of information
necessary for situation assessment may be obtained by the OCC:
Local, state, and federal resources can be requested for an incident and coordinated via the OCC. In major, multi-agency incidents, top command personnel from the participating agencies congregate at the OCC to coordinate operations (FEMA, 1987:18). Based on analysis of conditions at various incident sites, and the availability and location of re-sources, priorities are established for the allocation of resources. In addition, future resource needs for the incident(s) are anticipated and provisions made for their acquisition.
MACS administration and decision-making.
MACS is designed so that it does not usurp the authority of any of the organizations using it. In fact, the participating (FIRESCOPE) agencies run the system. MACS does not impose decisions on the participants. Cooperation with MACS is voluntary, and policy decisions are by consensus. Decision-making is carried by a Board of Directors, Operations Team, Task Force, Specialist Groups, and an Executive Coordinator. See Chapter 3 for more detail. (ICS, 1986; FEMA, 1987:17).
In disasters, it is necessary to have established procedures for obtaining additional resources when they are needed. However, indiscriminate requests for resources can be detrimental. Many disasters are complicated by the over-response of resources, and this can greatly complicate the already difficult problems of coordination and communication. Procedures for pinpointing the specific types and numbers of resources needed are helpful in making the disaster response more manageable. Selected examples have been described in this chapter. The topic of the next chapter is the Incident Command System. One of the advantages of this system is the procedures it uses for inter-organizational resource management.
Drabek TE: The professional emergency manager: structures and strategies for success, 1987. Available from: Institute of Behavioral Science #6, Campus Box 482, University of Colorado, Boulder Colorado 80309.
Federal Emergency Management Agency: Emergency Operating Center (EOC). In: Job Aid Manual, SM-61.1, 1983. Available from: FEMA, PO Box 8181, Washington, DC 20024.
Federal Emergency Management Agency: Emergency Operating Centers Handbook, CPG1-20, 1984. Available from: FEMA, PO Box 8181, Washington, DC 20024
Federal Emergency Management Agency: Exemplary Practices in Emergency Management: The California FIRESCOPE Program, Monograph Series No. 1, 1987. Available from: National Emergency Training Center, Emergency Management Institute, PO Box 70742, Washington DC 20023. Further information on FIRESCOPE can be obtained from: FIRESCOPE, Operations Coordination Center, PO Box 55157, Riverside Calif 92517.
Federal Emergency Management Agency: Using the Emergency operations center. In: Emergency program manager: An orientation to the position, SS-1, 1983. Available from: FEMA, PO Box 8181, Washington, DC.
Quarantelli, EL: Studies in disaster response and planning, Final Project Report 24, 1979. Available from: Disaster Research Center, Newark, Delaware 19716, (302)451-6618
State of California, Governor's Office of Emergency Services, Telecommunications Division: California On-Scene Emergency Coordination Radio Plan (CALCORD), 1986. Available from:O.E.S., Telecommunications Div., 2800 Meadowview Rd, Sacramento, Calif 95832.
Wenger D, Quarantelli EL, Dynes RR: Disaster Analysis: Emergency Management Offices and Arrangements, Final Project Report 34, 1986. Available from: Disaster Research Center, Newark, Del 19716, (302) 451-6618.