The goal of community resilience is to foster a communities capacity to mitigate hazards and recurring tasks. The Flash flood early warning system reference guide discusses the necessary components of a community preparedness program pertaining to public awareness, deployment of stable warning systems and development of effective messaging (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, 2010, p. 7-3). Resilient communities are able to carry-out recovery activities in order to lessen social disruption in addition to mitigating the effects ad impacts of future events (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, 2010, p. 7-6).
An important component of disaster management is emergency communications with federal, state and local agencies as well as with the public. When dealing with a natural disaster or terrorist attack communication is key in collaboration to ensure appropriate allocation and utilization of human resources and supplies. It is also necessary to identify the individuals with vulnerabilities.
Effective communication with a community is necessary to ensure accuracy of information disseminated and received, compliance with government issued orders in addition to build trust and ability to persuade residents. The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research states that there are four stages in the continuum of persuasive communication including Awareness, Understanding, Acceptance and Behavior change (2010, p. 7-2).
There are several ways to communicate with residents such as community partnerships, education and outreach materials and the media. The media whether its broadcast, radio or print provide life saving information, share weather and preparedness research and practices and provides the public with current information. These partnership also provide quality materials and raise public awareness (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, 2010, p. 7-10). Outreach and communication with the public is central to understanding the nature of the hazard, the risks to personal safety and property, and the steps that can be taken to reduce those risks.
Local organizations are also important in community resilience as they are able to address additional related and non-hazard related community issues that will enable the community to function on a daily basis. These partnerships enable access to multiple segments of the community at once such as a local Emergency Response or Planning Committee being comprised of individuals from the local governments, private sector, media, state or federal agencies, schools, and private citizens (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, 2010, p. 7-11). For instance, partnering with state or local health department and other state or local agencies that have disaster planning or community mapping responsibilities as well as community organizations or businesses connected to the community (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015, p.5).
A Community Outreach Information Network (COIN) is a network of individuals and community leaders that can assist with dissemination pf information to at-risk groups as well as assist in emergency planning. It is important to identify what is currently being done to provide assistance to these individuals in addition to conducting research on community demographics (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015, p.8).
Social media refers to online tools permitting communication and networking while building trust and cohesiveness. Some types of social media are email, listservs, social networks, blogs and discussions in addition to video sharing, micromedia and document sharing. However there are some disadvantages such as the constant updating, feedback system needed for interaction in addition to needing to keep pace with technology and requiring the commitment of time and creativity (International Federation of Red Cross, 2011, p.56).
In order to ensure all residents have access to information it is important to identify those with vulnerabilities to disaster such as limited financial resources, non-english speaking, disabled/handicapp as well as children and the elderly. Social vulnerability is defined in terms of the characteristics of a person or group that affect “their capacity to anticipate, cope with, resist, and recover from the impact” of a discrete and identifiable disaster in nature or society (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015, p.1). The identification of vulnerable communities enables development and implementation of community-based efforts in addition to efficient allocation of resources.
Socioeconomic status includes employment, income, housing and education level. These populations are more likely lack resources needed to follow emergency preparedness instructions, unable to stockpile food, and no access to transportation. The elderly are at risk due to chronic health problems, limited mobility and financial resources. Children are susceptible to injury and disease in addition to being separated from their parents. Race and ethnicity are related to socioeconomic status due to social and economic marginalization. Individuals with limited English proficiency incur difficulty understanding public health directives therefore it is necessary to acknowledge cultural dialects and social norms in order to ensure accurate receipt and response. a disability refers to physical, cognitive and sensory impairments. Physical impairments refer to limited sight, hearing or mobility and cognitive impairments refers to the inability to understand or respond to warning (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015, p.3).
A registry is a voluntary database of individuals meeting eligibility requirements to receive additional services based on specific needs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015, p.6). Creating a registry of individuals requiring additional emergency response services enables identification the specific services needed. The most common are Access and functional needs, Medical needs, and Transportation needs.
The Access and functional needs registries are broad registries that includes anyone needing special assistance. The medical needs registry is for individuals with specific medical needs and the transportation registry is for individuals with impaired mobility or those requiring evacuation assistance during a disaster.
For example, I registered with the special needs registry in the state of New Jersey because I have limited mobility due to multiple sclerosis. The registry is called NJ Registry Ready for residents with access and functional needs. There is also a link for an emergency alert system called NJ Alert which sends email or text messages during an emergency (Office of Emergency Management, 2006).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identify several communication methods for sharing messages with vulnerable populations including conducting surveys, community assessments and focus groups. The surveys are on agencies and organizations offering direct services to at-risk individuals providing data on successful and failed communication strategies.
The community assessments enable identification of challenges such as barriers in receiving information, communication method preferences, accessibility to and usage of media in addition to primary languages spoken, use of assistive technology and developing culturally competent messages (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015, p.11).
Focus groups disclose attitudes, perceptions and behaviors of participants from responses to specific and open-ended questions. The groups are utilized as a common tool for obtaining feedback for existing public health interventions or information on designing new ones (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015, p.12).
Effective preparedness requires participation of vulnerable populations during the mitigation process. The operational planning of a system addressing the needs of these individuals requires participation in resource identification, capabilities, coping mechanisms and existing facilities (Newport & Jawahar, 2003).
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies provide four approaches to public awareness and education for disaster risk reduction including campaigns, participatory leaning, as well as informal education and formal school-based interventions. Campaigns provide standard messages with a uniform large-scale impact. Campaigns such as childhood immunization, wearing of seat belts, and smoking restrictions have led to social change. Campaigns pertain to publications, e-learning, audio and visual materials as well as social media and telecommunications (International Federation of Red Cross, 2011, p.26).
Participatory learning focuses on engaging people in discovery and problem solving for disaster risk reduction. The approach can be applied at the organizational, community and population levels. Evacuation planning, simulations and drills are areas in which participants can learn and acquire the skills needed in response to an emergency (International Federation of Red Cross, 2011, p.28).
Informal education utilizes brief moments and encounters to stimulate thinking and engaging people to increase safety and resilience. Messages are disseminated utilizing similar tools as campaigns however they are flexible to accommodate the specific needs on the audience. Facilitation tools include brainstorming, case studies, role playing as well as guided and small group discussions (International Federation of Red Cross, 2011, p.30).
Formal school-based interventions incorporate school disaster management and disaster risk reduction into school curriculum. An important element of these interventions is to develop positive relationships with nongovernmental organizations, intergovernmental organizations and school authorities in order to identify a focal point (International Federation of Red Cross, 2011, p.31). School disaster management is to ensure the safety of staff and pupils during a disaster and the progression of education. There are several response skills that require training such as fire suppression, psychosocial support, evacuation in addition to mass casualty triage, light search and rescue and child family reunification. School drills are important because they provide intensive learning experiences which are integrated into the school disaster management plan. Drills include building evacuation, site evacuations as well as sheltering in place and lockdowns.
In conclusion effective emergency communication is important for a resilient community. Disasters have an impact on the lives of people and their community therefore it is essential that residents are educated and trained on necessary preparedness and response activities. Establishing partnership between government agencies and local organizations expanding the quality of information provided to diverse populations.
The goal of community resilience is to foster a
communities capacity to mitigate hazards and
An important component of disaster management
is emergency communications federal, state and
local agencies as well as with the public.
Effective communication with a community is
necessary to ensure accuracy of information
disseminated and received, compliance with
government issued orders in addition to build trust
and ability to persuade residents.
Media (television, newspapers)
Community Outreach Information Network
Identification of vulnerable
Race and ethnicity
Limited English Proficiency
Utilization of registries
Access and functional needs
Disasters have an impact on the lives of people
and their community therefore it is essential that
residents are educated and trained on
necessary preparedness and response
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Strategies for Identifying and Engaging At-Risk Groups. A guidance
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International Federation of Red Cross. Public awareness and public
education for disaster risk reduction: a guide. International Federation of
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. 2011 Retrieved from:
Newport, J. K., & Jawahar, G. G. P. (2003). Community participation
and public awareness in disaster mitigation. Disaster Prevention and
Management,12(1), 33-36. Retrieved from
State of New Jersey Office of Emergency Management. (2006) NJ
Register Ready. Retrieved from:
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Flash Flood Early
Warning System Reference Guide. Community-Based Disaster Management
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2010 Retrieved from: