Emergency planning and contingencies
We can't control everything that happens around us, and sometimes, emergencies take place. People don't always do all they can to prevent this, taking all safety measures, checking all machines and devices used for every task, and monitoring every single detail of their productions. And even if we do, accidents can happen anyway, for one reason or another. We can't control weather, or the spreading or unknown diseases, or attacks from armies or armed groups, just to cite a few examples. Whatever the case is, emergencies happen, things catch us off guard, lives are at stake, and professional and government forces need to act in order to protect the population.
The only way to face a big emergency and solve the problem successfully is to have an emergency plan. This goes far beyond placing signs on buildings pointing at the emergency exit and telling people not to use the elevator in case of fire. Of course, this is important, and it can save many lives, but real emergency planning, when well executed, needs to reach higher spheres.
When designing an emergency plan, it is fundamental to know the local risks and take them into account. In example, antisismic buildings are always safer than their alternative, but there are places in the world where antisismic construction is practically a must, because earthquakes are frequent and they cause losses every year, including human losses. It is much more important to build an antisismic bridge in Japan or Ecuador than in Brazil or India. The local risks will determine with which kind of emergency professionals will have to deal more often.
In a way, disasters aren't something you can really "handle". You can't simply stop a tsunami on its way to the shore, or put off a forest fire by snapping your fingers. However, there are ways to fight the menace that are more effective than others, as well as special measures governments can take to decrease the negative impact catastrophes have on the population.
An emergency communication plan is always fundamental in the case of large disasters, because in these cases communication is often affected. No big and organized response can take place if there are no communication channels available. Also, without a way to communicate, people can get isolated and left behind, with no chance of survival. This is frequent in the case of emergencies in natural disaters, like large earthquakes or tornados, where phone antennas are taken down and mobiles don't work anymore. Those who are friends or family with someone in the affected population may try to reach them, unsuccessfully, and those who need help might not be able to let anyone know. A contingency plan should cover these communication issues should they arise.
The aftermath of the catastrophe is also a matter of concern, not just because of all the problems it can cause if buildings have been destroyed or supplies like food or power are cut, but also because of the psychological impact this sort of experience has on people. Populations who have gone through a catastrophe are likely to be in need of professional aid in order to cope with what they have been through and make sure they don't develop a serious disorder or mental condition afterwards. A good intervention will boost resilience in the population, helping people use the experience to become stronger and more adaptable instead of being traumatized by it.
The Emergency Planning Society
The Emergency Planning Society is a government body that gathers thousands of experts in the area of emergency prevention and handling. Its purpose is to provide advice to decision makers of all kinds about prevention and planning. This is a place where emergency experts and professionals can exchange ideas and build strategies together. The Society works with both the private and public sector, and even if it is a British body, it aims to work in a global context.
If you are an emergency professional and want to join the Emergency Planning Society, or if you just want to learn more about their activities and services, you can call the number provided above and inquire about it. The Society has been founded in 1993 and since then it has been working with decision makers in order to ensure a safer organization of the public and private sector, for the benefit of all people in the United Kingdom. Please note that call charges may apply, when calling 0844 numbers please be advised that extra call charges apply more than normal local rates, of up to 7p per minute.