Emergency management refers to the process, through which communities or organizations reduce their vulnerability to hazards and come up with the appropriate ways of coping with disasters. Nevertheless, emergency management does not entirely avert risks, but instead, it reduces the effect of disorder that, if not properly managed, may result in the significant loss of lives, property, and revenue. The events that are mostly covered by emergency management plans include acts of terrorism, natural disasters, fire, public disorders, and industrial accidents (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2014). For the effective management of disasters, teams must operate within the principles that guide the doctrine of emergency management. Among these principles is the aspect of comprehensiveness that states that the emergency management team should take into account all hazards, their phases, all stakeholders, and all possible impacts of various disasters. Further, the team should be highly integrated, demonstrating a significant degree of unity of effort among all levels of government and all elements of the community. In addition, flexibility and professionalism are important principles to be adopted by the team, whereby it should use creative and innovative approaches in solving disasters. This essay discusses the roles of emergency managers as well as the attributes required by an emergency manager to carry out the assigned roles efficiently.
Proper emergency disaster management cannot take place in the absence of a disaster manager who, in most cases, is employed by the government or works for private institutions. The roles of emergency managers are crucial; thus, an individual with such strong qualities as communication, critical thinking, decision making, interpersonal, and leadership skills, should take up this role (Murphy, 2009). More so, effective communication is required in the preparation of emergency plans and communication with the government and the public. Thus, critical thinking skills are applicable in the anticipation of problems and hazards that may arise as well as in situations when there is a need to come up with viable solutions to the problems rather quickly. Further, decision-making skills enable the emergency disaster manager to make timely decisions when the weaknesses and strengths of responses have already been identified and cost-benefit analysis done.
At the same time, the role of an emergency manager requires excellent interpersonal skills, putting into consideration that often, they are involved in stressful situations, yet they have to keep constant communication with the government agencies, law enforcement officials, and the public (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2014). Leadership skills are also critical to emergency managers, and they are most applicable in the coordination of responses to emergencies. For efficient delivery, managers must organize and train specific individuals for various roles in case of emergencies instead of waiting for the last-minute rush to assign duties and responsibilities.
In the majority of situations, the roles of emergency managers are often misunderstood by their partners, which results in massive confusion in the handling of disasters. For example, many people often confuse the roles of the government and those of emergency managers. Such activities as warning, evacuation, and sheltering are sometimes assumed to be the duties of emergency managers, while in reality, they are very broad to be performed by a single individual. The government has such broad functions, with the law enforcement officers carrying out the evacuation, while the human services department with the support from volunteer organizations facilitates sheltering. Furthermore, the emergency manager’s duty is to ensure that the activities of that nature are carried out efficiently and effectively to mitigate the effects of a disaster.
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The primary responsibility of the disaster management is to protect and preserve the jurisdictions citizenry, which is made possible by the development of relations with emergency response agencies to facilitate interagency operations during emergencies. (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2014). Thus, during an emergency response, inter-agency competition is dissolved into a seamless team, but the emergency manager must be aware of the limits of each department. To facilitate cohesion among various agencies, a disaster manager should come up with joint training exercises, whereby the weaknesses experienced in the previous emergency responses are highlighted and solutions found.
Further, it is the duty of the emergency manager to coordinate the emergency response efforts. Therefore, it is not the role of the emergency manager to direct the police or the firefighting officers since they are answerable to their immediate supervisors (Phelan, 2008). However, the emergency manager must ensure that all plans relating to the activities, such as firefighting or evacuation, are implemented as required.
In addition, it is the duty of disaster managers to raise community awareness of emergency preparedness and response, which is done by bringing in the community members into the emergency response team. Thus, community members can either be in the administrative function, or they can operate as volunteers. This strengthens the emergency response team and relieves the professional responders of some of the burdens encountered in the emergency response operations. Further, the community should be sensitized to develop the will to volunteer as they get to learn much, which in the end may result in the elimination of disasters, such as fires, that occur as the result of people’s carelessness and negligence. An example of an organization that offers effective emergency management training is the Red Cross; thus, a disaster manager should work closely with such an organization.
Lastly, it is the duty of emergency managers to develop a good relationship with the representatives of media since he/she requires the media to disseminate the emergency information in the fastest and the most efficient manner possible. The media, ranging from the bloggers to newspapers and television, are used in spreading the official word from the emergency manager as well informing the public on the ways of minimizing the effects of impending disasters (Murphy, 2009). An example of media use is the Emergency broadcast system that is actively involved in informing citizens on disaster issues through such channels of dissemination of information as television and radio.
The duties of emergency managers are often misunderstood by their partners, which leads to reduced cohesion among the parties involved in response to disasters. In the majority of cases, emergency managers find themselves carrying out the roles of the grant managers and administrative assistants as a result of the misunderstanding of the roles. This confusion eventually results in the emergency manager not being in a position to focus on the critical functions assigned to the area. For example, they cannot engage with the community fully through the creation of awareness and addressing the issues related to disaster preparedness and minimization of their effects.
At the same time, this misunderstanding can be reversed by the creation of acceptable norms and standards regarding the profession of emergency management (Singh, 2006). This would clearly separate the roles and obligations of emergency managers from those of other related positions such as the grant managers. Thus, emergency managers should also be well trained in tackling their roles so that their impact could be felt by the public and other parties. The neglect of their specific roles creates the work overlap since they find themselves performing duties that belong to other people, a factor that leads to increased job redundancy.
More so, the terminologies used in defining the duties of emergency managers also result in the misunderstanding. The terms ‘coordinator’ and ‘planner’ often take away the defined functions of an emergency manager; therefore, they should be replaced with more accurate words that clearly state the role of an emergency manager (Singh, 2006). Specific terms, such as ‘awareness creation’ and ‘creation of a relationship with the media’, should be used since they are less loaded and self-explanatory to everyone.
The public should also be enlightened on the duties and roles of emergency managers since their collaboration is key in response to a disaster. The public should understand the differences between the tying functions of emergency managers and grant managers. In this case, they will be aware of whom to report to if there are predisposing factors in the community that might expose them to hazards, for example, the existence of leaking oil pipes. More so, with emergency managers carrying out their roles effectively, the public would automatically understand their functions.
The emergency management position requires various attributes and characteristics so that the individual could perform their duties efficiently and meet the desired goals. Time management skill is one of the attributes a person should possess since emergency response missions are critical, and the aspect of time can make a great difference in the impact of the disorder. For example, a disaster manager should create awareness to the public in due course as well as send rescue teams at the appropriate time to reduce the adverse impacts of disasters, for example, losses of lives.
Furthermore, emergency managers should also have the ability to accept and adapt to changing work priorities, organizational, and political directions since disasters are unique in nature (Murphy, 2009). It is common for these managers to face a completely new disaster; consequently, these individuals should be very flexible. More so, they should also have the ability to manage concurrent projects and priorities since more than one disaster may require their attention. Therefore, they should be well prepared to work under stressful and dynamic environments.
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Further, the aspect of verbal and written communication is a key attribute that any emergency manager should possess since the majority of their duties involve a great deal of interaction with various people, ranging from government officials to ordinary citizens. Effective communication is highly required in the making of reports to the government as well as in the creation of awareness among the public. Thus, the existence of effective communication enables the emergence of new ideas and facilitates the proper decision-making process.
The ability of a disaster manager to work as a team member cannot be undervalued since for efficient management of a disorder to take place, the manager must have the knowledge of bringing up successful teams and working with them to accomplish the desired results. These managers should also be well conversant with the motivation theory principles that are most applicable in managing people in a team, resulting in increased morale and self-drive or initiatives.
More to say, disaster managers should also be self-aware, whereby they are in a position to identify self-strengths and weaknesses concerning the activities that they will be expected to carry out on a routine basis (Gupta & Indian National Science Academy, 2003). This may include the ability to conduct meetings, gather information efficiently, the skill of delegation, supervision, and decision-making among others.
As the primary roles of emergency managers are carried out, including management, strategy, policy, and coordination, the aspects of time, tactical, and operational actions have to considered as well. The efficiency of the major roles is only made possible when all activities are carried out at the right time. At the same time, close attention should be paid to the minor details that may affect the results of the overall plan, and this is made possible by carrying out operational actions.
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Concerning the management role, emergency managers should perform a timely inspection of the facilities and equipment used in response to emergencies. Examples of such facilities include management centers and the communication facilities whose operational and functional capabilities should always be at best (Phelan, 2008). Unfortunate situations are frequently experienced, whereby transmission lines are found to be faulty in the event of an unpredicted disaster. This becomes a clear indication that an emergency manager does not carry out the management role efficiently, which requires the manager and the associated team to be always prepared to react with all appropriate functional gadgets in the event of a disaster. At the same time, for efficient management, a disaster manager should conduct surveys to determine the emergency-related needs that require to be addressed in disaster planning. It becomes easy for the emergency management team to address a foreseen disaster since it is discussed in reference to the plan and not on a trial and error basis (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2014). This results in the efficiency of the management process since the impact of the previously identified disaster is less vital, which builds the public’s confidence in the emergency management team.
Another critical role of emergency managers is the strategic role since it is concerned with the functionality of the emergency system as a whole and its effectiveness. In this role, an emergency manager in collaboration with other stakeholders sets the long-term goals of the disaster management unit. In a very tactical manner, these managers pay close attention to the day-to-day activities that have to be correctly performed to facilitate the attainment of long-term goals. Examples of such activities may include giving exact instructions in training and the use of correct materials, tools, and other facilities in this training. Other operational actions that facilitate efficient implementation of the strategy role may include designing and administration of disaster preparedness courses (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2014). Such courses enlighten people on how they should respond to emergencies and disasters, which reduces the negative impacts of disasters. It is evident that in the occurrence of a disorder, many people could perish because of the lack of knowledge of appropriate response. For example, people could decide to jump off from tall buildings in the cases of fire instead of using alarms and fire extinguishers properly. The inappropriate response results in major injuries and death if compared to a similar situation, where people respond appropriately to panic.
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More so, the strategic role of disaster management can be accomplished more efficiently by the utilization of the SWOT analysis and the PEST analysis. Thus, using the former analysis, a manager is in a position to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a laid down plan as well as the opportunities that may facilitate the success of this program. Examples of such opportunities may include the use of universities in carrying out emergency drills since these institutions hold many people that would enable them to gauge whether the training made to the public on the response to emergencies is effective. Further, disaster managers could also utilize PEST analysis in their strategic role as it would enable them to scan the environment, under which they work. With this, managers would be in a position to identify the political, environmental, social, and technological factors that may work to their advantage or disadvantage. Thus, as an example of a situation, where political factors may work to a disadvantage of the emergency response team, it is an election and political violence that may occur after it. In this case, the emergency team finds itself overloaded with work. Consequently, it may not be able to meet the needs of all citizens who might require their support. Nevertheless, emergency managers should always ensure that tactical decisions and appropriate actions are taken so that the emergency team could achieve its objectives in an optimal way. Further, there are situations, whereby social factors could work to the advantage of the emergency team – for example, the public adopts a positive attitude towards the emergency training courses offered by the training department (Murphy, 2009). This would have a positive influence on peoples’ response to disorders and mitigate their impact. The number of evacuations would also reduce significantly as the result of the public adopting appropriate safety measures. Therefore, it is evident that the strategic role of emergency managers is critical; therefore, it should be approached with the seriousness it deserves.
In addition, the coordination function of emergency managers is as equally important as other roles since the absence of tactical functions would render proper management and strategic planning useless. In this role, crisis management activities are well laid down and implemented, resulting in visible results, for example, minimal deaths during disasters. Under the coordination role, disaster managers should order evacuations, the opening of public shelters, and the implementation of special plans and programs to those affected either directly or indirectly. Under this role, disaster managers should ensure that no operational activity is assumed as this would negatively influence the results of emergency response. For example, among minor details that should not be overlooked is the level of sanitation in the opened shelters since poor hygiene may lead to people contracting various infections, which would further delay the recovery process. Lastly, the policy role of emergency managers may be efficiently carried out in the situations, whereby they develop and maintains liaisons with municipalities and county departments to facilitate the proper development of plans, efficient response to disasters, and the exchanges of personnel and equipment in the response process.
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Such dependencies result in inefficient results, considering the fact that in the event of a disaster in a country, each person is either affected directly or indirectly irrespective of the department one is based at (Singh,2006). More so, emergency managers should ensure that emergency management plans are in agreement with the state and federal regulations as this facilitates coherence and interdependence among various government agencies.
The emergency management position is a critical role in the management of disasters. Therefore, the individual in this position should display great communication and decision-making skills. Further, an emergency manager should also possess critical thinking, interpersonal, and leadership skills since unique situations, requiring the proper application of such skills, are likely to occur. The major roles of emergency managers include the coordination of activities carried out in the management of disorders, for example, the evacuation of people. It is the responsibility of these managers to ensure that such activities are conducted efficiently and effectively. At the same time, it is the duty of emergency managers to maintain a healthy relationship with all the relevant bodies and authorities who may be of great benefit in the event of a disaster. More so, a disaster manager is also responsible for creating community awareness on the issues relating to the management of disasters. This makes it easier to coordinate a well-informed community during emergencies. At the same time, various measures have to be put in place to avoid the misunderstanding of the roles of disaster managers by their partners. These measures include the creation of acceptable norms and standards regarding the emergency management position and public awareness as well as training of the managers on their specific roles and duties. Further, disaster managers should possess such attributes as the ability to adapt to changing work priorities and being a team player as well as having excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Such skills will enable disaster managers to carry out the management, strategy, coordination, and policy roles efficiently and effectively.