Disaster and crisis are inevitable aspects in our day to day life. This is because they occur unexpectedly. The best thing is therefore to put on strategic plans that are aimed towards curbing any form of disasters and crisis once they occur so as to avoid occurrence of major losses that could take different forms for instance destruction, injuries or even death.
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There have been various disasters that have been witnessed in various parts of the world each of them being associated with different effects.
This piece of work gives an in depth discussion of the cultural considerations that are faced by disaster and crisis related workers with much emphasis being given to the Hurricane Katrina crisis workers and Sri Lankan tsunami community support officers.
There are various response efforts that have been taken by the responsible individuals and agencies in order to curb the Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Sri Lanka each of them having different levels of effectiveness in regard to the solutions they provide in the situations.
In the case of the tsunami in Sri Lanka, some of the responses taken include provision of medical treatment, accommodation as well as food and drinking water to the affected individuals. Psychological distress was also identified as a major problem and hence the appointment of community based mental health workers to deal with the situations.
The fact that the health workers were community based gave them a good opportunity to understand the people due to cultural similarities. Choosing the community support officers based on cultural background was however linked with some limitations as some skills and knowledge was lacking hence making their practices and activities ineffective to a certain degree.
A good example is where nine out of 14 communities affected by the tsunami lacked a psychiatrist, an element that is very crucial in dealing with the mentally affected victims and those with varying psychosocial needs (Mahoney et al, 2006).
The Hurricane Katrina victims also suffered from different problems for instance trauma and stress and therefore certain measures had to be put in place to deal with the situation. Some of the needs to be catered for included medical conditions, shelter as well as food.
In the evacuation process, cultural aspects led to inefficiency and ineffectiveness which exacerbated the losses incurred especially in terms of death of victims. A relevant example is in regard to the time taken in evacuating people of different cultural backgrounds. The black victims waited for approximately five days to be evacuated while the number of days taken to evacuate the whites was estimated to be three days.
Cultural difference is also seen in regard to the number of people employed in different positions to handle the hurricane Katrina crisis. The chances were accorded according to races and hence some of them were incompetent and had no required qualifications such as psychiatric history (Mills, Edmondson &Park, 2007).
From the above discussion, it is evident that disasters and crisis are associated with various forms of losses and they therefore necessitate effective measures to be taken to prevent them or else handle them once they occur.
The Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami are good examples and they provide us with the measures that are undertaken by the responsible people. Culture is an element that has been depicted to have a lot of influence on the response efforts undertaken where it has enhanced some efforts in some instances and dragged some in other instances.
Mahoney, J. et al. (2006).Responding to the mental health and psychosocial needs of the people of Sri Lanka in disasters. International Review of Psychiatry, December 2006; 18(6): 593–597
Mills, M.A, Edmondson, D. &Park, L.C. (2007). Trauma and Stress Response Among Hurricane Katrina Evacuees. American Journal of Public Health / Supplement 1, 2007, Vol 97, No. S1