The most common approach is to describe disaster preparedness and response as a series of stages in which the reaction to the disaster ends in a return to normalcy. The various stages are concomitant and overlapping, but are nonetheless useful to better understand the process. While the historical origin of these cycles is in natural disasters, they can be adapted to other types of disasters. The public health model for disasters highlights a cycle of preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery. This is used by the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in its instructional materials and courses.
Risk Assessment: Basic surveys of a given area are conducted to locate potential disaster hazards. Accurate knowledge of the threat comes from thorough hazard assessment and vulnerability analysis and is a sustained and ongoing process. This includes identification of the risk, an estimation of the probability of occurrence, and an estimation of the possible damage.
Mitigation: This includes contingency plans that are drawn up to "mitigate" or limit the effects of a disaster. This may include evacuation of patients away from an imminent threat or movement from a disaster site to unaffected areas.
Response: As a disaster strikes, response agencies are activated to help support coordinated relief efforts. This often involves EMS providers, police, firefighters, local and regional Emergency Departments, as well as governmental and public health officials and agencies. In large-scale disasters, the response may require regional, national, or international humanitarian aide agencies depending on the number of victims and the severity of injuries. Both initial and definitive medical care as well as psychological support and crisis counseling are provided. Temporary housing, financial contributions, and donations of goods and services help to support relief efforts.
Recovery: After the immediate response is completed, long-term recovery begins. Depending on the severity, this process may take months to years to complete. The goals are to promote the recovery of individuals as well as the restoration of the economic and civil life of the community. Victims remain at risk for depression, guilt, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Displaced populations are particularly vulnerable. The needs of affected individuals and families should be identified and met, including access to vital services and assistance from available disaster programs. The process of recovery is integrated with starting the disaster cycle with renewed risk assessment.
In large-scale mass casualty events, physicians and other healthcare workers must be knowledgeable of the need for efficient coordination among local, state, and federal response efforts; how to protect themselves and others from further harm; how to communicate effectively with other emergency personnel and the media; and how to address the unique psychological impacts and related social chaos that may ensue. The National Disaster Life Support (NDLS) training program serves to better prepare healthcare professionals and emergency response personnel and to help standardize emergency response nationwide and strengthen the nation's public health system.
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Preparing for Armageddon, Natural Disasters, Nuclear Strikes, the Zombie Apocalypse, and Every Other Threat to Human Life on Earth. Most of us have thought about how we would handle various types of scenarios that could signal the end of the world. There are plenty of movies on the subject, psychological papers, and even survivalists that are part of reality TV shows. Perhaps you have had dreams about being one of the few left and what you would do in order to survive.