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The federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a state agency that is operated under the department of Homeland Security.
It is tasked with the important responsibility of responding to cases of emergency, as well as disasters that may occur mainly within the United States; the agency mostly targets at finding solutions by responding to disasters that are beyond the scope of the local state authorities which are given the first priority to handle the disasters.
However, it is very important to note that the involvement of FEMA mostly occurs in very extreme circumstances, and in this case, the governor of the concerned state has to assess the situation that has occurred as a result of the disaster.
After an initial assessment has been carried out, the governor declares a state of emergency and seeks help from FEMA, though the federal government should enable them to help in handling the disaster.
In this paper, the emergency preparedness of FEMA will be determined by analyzing the procedures and provisions that have been put in place for handling the disasters that are likely to occur; of great importance are the information dissemination channels that have been developed by the agency to ensure that the local agencies are able to fully educate the residents on the steps that they can take to be able to handle all the disasters that are likely to take place (FEMA, 2000).
The plans for response to be evaluated also include the evacuation plans that have been put in place by the agency as these are very important in ensuring that there is no unnecessary loss of lives in case a disaster occurs.
The agency has developed various in-depth publications in order to enable the local state agencies to ensure that all the residents are well aware of the actions that they need to take in case there is the occurrence of a disaster. Of great importance is also the fact that most of the information is readily available and accessible on the agency website.
The information covers the various types of disasters, as well as the various categories of people who might be affected by the disasters; there are various aspects of managing disasters that are utilized by agencies to ensure that they are able to effectively manage the issues that are related to the disasters that they may face.
These aspects include measures to ensure that mitigation is done successfully, the level of preparedness in case a disaster occurs, response to the disaster and the recovery efforts that are applied after the disaster has taken place (May & Williams, 1986).
The management at FEMA has ensured that there are mitigation measures that have been put in place for all the states to ensure that the probability of the occurrence of disasters is reduced as much as possible. The measures that are taken to prevent any adverse situation in case of a disaster include the provision of the necessary information to all the concerned parties in relation to any expected occurrence of disasters.
The management uses the associated stakeholders in all the states to ensure that all the residents are well informed on any disasters that are likely to occur; there are various types of disasters that can occur and which may ultimately require the attention of FEMA and these include earthquakes, floods, explosions or even hurricanes (FEMA, 2000).
However, it is also important to note that most of the disasters including floods, earthquakes and even the hurricanes can be predicted, and thus the necessary mitigation measures can be put in place if the necessary information is provided to the concerned stakeholders.
One of the mandates of the state management agency is to ensure that there is enough preparedness on the part of the people who are likely to be affected by the disasters that are likely to occur. However, it is very important to note that the issue of preparedness is actually two told; it is important for the likely victims of the disasters to be well prepared in case the projected disasters occur.
In this regard, FEMA has a system that ensures that there is proper training and information dissemination to persons that live in the areas that are likely to be affected by the disasters. However, the agency also provides the information to all the citizens in all the states about the disasters that cannot be easily predicted.
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In this case, there will be enough preparedness on the part of the victims in case of the occurrence of any of these disasters (Rubin, 2004).
The agency also has put in place measures to ensure that their personnel receives the required training on how to not only orient the citizens on disaster preparedness measures, but also ensures that they are aware of the best techniques to use them so as to be able to effectively respond to the disasters in case they do occur.
As mentioned in the level of preparedness that is exercised by FEMA, the levels of response are also practiced on two levels by the management at FEMA. However in terms of response, there is more emphasis on the training for the members of staff at FEMA who are expected to respond to the declaration of the state of emergency in the concerned nations by the state governors.
The training on the expected response to the disasters is done according to the type of disaster that is likely to occur; this can be attributed to the fact that different types of disasters require different types of response, as well as equipment for an effective response (Havidan, Quarantelli & Dynes, 2006).
In order to be able to effectively help the victims of the disasters, it is also very important to ensure that the victims also have some prior knowledge on how to handle themselves and the steps that they are expected to take so as to reduce the levels of exposure to danger.
FEMA gives a lot of importance to the ability of the management to be able to swiftly respond to the disasters that are likely to adversely affect the citizens in any state.
The citizens should be prepared to respond to emergencies by ensuring that they have a stock of supplies to use in case of this emergency; such stocks can include food, clothes and other equipment such as flashlights, as all these come in handy in case of a disaster (Witt, 2004).
Unity of Command and NIMS principles
Unity of command refers to the ability by an agency to be able to organize all its resources and personnel so as to be able to work together to effectively manage any disaster in case they are called upon to do so. The management at FEMA has put in place a system that is under a central command, and all the personnel have been well briefed on how to respond to the disasters.
It is very important to ensure that all the members of the disaster response team are able to work together as a team to effectively respond to any disasters; it is also equally important to instill the sense of working as per the commands that are given to ensure that the response attained is swift and timely (Shroeder, Wamsley & Ward, 2001).
The National Incident Management System was developed in order to enable the management of any incidences that might lead to the occurrence of disasters.
This system is properly documented and it lays down the acceptable system that consists of the standard procedures that can be used as a response to the disasters. It gives a list of the stakeholders who are expected to respond to disasters and the channels that are available for the swift response to these disasters.
The NIMS that was developed by the Homeland Security and the Federal government provides funding to the states that are fully compliant with the requirements of NIMS in preparing them for disasters (FEMA, 1996).
The system has also been adopted by FEMA in the training of the state agencies on the steps that are required to be exercised by all the members of the response team which, in this case, includes firefighters, rescuers, the medical personnel, as well as the teams that are equipped to handle the hazardous substances.
The incident command system has been emphasized on by FEMA, and it enables the application of the systems that are laid down (FEMA, 1997).
Pros and Cons of the FEMA management system
From the above analysis, it is clear that the management system that is used by FEMA is well equipped to manage the disasters that are likely to occur. It is crucial to sensitize of the local agencies on the need to be well aware of the occurrence of any disasters to ensure that the agency is able to effectively manage the disasters with the assistance of the affected victims.
The agency has put in place all the necessary steps to mitigate, prepare for and respond to disasters and the concerned parties fully understand the role that they are supposed to play in managing the disasters. The agency can however improve the response by developing management plans that are specific to the various regions depending on the disasters that are expected to occur there.
The management has also outlined the steps that need to be taken in order to respond to the disasters that take place and, as outlined the plans, are very clear. The plans clearly show the sequence of the responses that will be followed. The Agency also has a very good cooperation with the other state agencies in responding to disasters.
FEMA is a state agency that helps a great deal in the process of responding to the various disasters that overwhelm the local state agencies and, in this regard, it has clearly formulated and outlined the steps that need to be followed in order to have an effective program for the mitigation, preparedness, as well as response to the disasters that are likely to occur.
However, with the incorporation of some of the recommendations outlined, the provision of services can become even more effective.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). (2000) Urban Search and Rescue Response System In Federal Disaster Operations: Operations Manual. January, Washington DC: Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA. (1996). Guide for All-Hazard Emergency Operations Planning, SLG-101. Washington DC: Author.
FEMA. (1997). Multi-hazard Identification and Risk Assessment: A Cornerstone of the National Mitigation Strategy. Washington DC: Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Havidan, R., Quarantelli, E.L. and Dynes, R. R. (eds). (2006). Handbook of Disaster Research. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
May, P. and Williams, W (1986). Disaster policy implementation: Managing programs under shared governance. New York: Plenum.
Rubin, C.B. (ed.) (2004). Emergency Management: The American Experience 1900- 2005. Fairfax, VA: Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI).
Schroeder, A., Wamsley, G. and Ward, R. (2001.) “The Evolution of Emergency Management in America: From a Painful Past to a Promising but Uncertain Future.” Pp. 357-418 in Ali Farzmand, editor, Handbook of Crisis and Emergency Management. New York: Marcel Dekker.
Witt, J. (2004). Pepco Holdings, Inc. Hurricane Isabel Response Assessment. Final Report. May. Maryland: Pepco Work Group.