Operational Lessons Learned in Disaster Response   [open pdf - 2MB]

"The final two decades of the 20th century foreshadowed the future of the fire service in America. Forces of natural disasters - earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes and acts of terrorism unleashed against densely populated centers highlighted the role of firefighters in first response. The tragedies that arose from the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina proved the value of firefighters in the emergency management equation. This occurred simultaneously with the self-examination by the fire service of its own record of occupational safety and an effort to learn from its mistakes. The fundamental doctrine of emergency management encompasses specific phases of human intervention (i.e., preparation, mitigation, response, recovery) intended as a means of focusing our effort to withstand, recover and restore from disaster. Significant disasters arise from extreme physical forces of nature, failures of technological systems, and acts of terrorism. Emergency managers use the term "all-hazards" to denote such events. Any of these events may require a response from first responders. However, first responder agencies may lack the capacity to mitigate the hazards posed by such disasters or may be rendered inoperable to some degree by the catastrophic impact of the event. From that assumption, the USFA [United States Fire Administration] conducted research to identify gaps and needs in first responder training and resources and to present solutions that serve to better prepare local-level fire services for all-hazard events and to interact with federal resources. Local fire departments routinely handle the majority of fires, rescues and medical emergencies without outside assistance. We generally categorize these as low-risk/high-frequency events. However, a given fire department will typically have less experience with large-scale natural disasters, technological accidents, and terrorist attacks. We categorize these events as high-risk/low-frequency, any of which may impact the operational capacity of a fire department."

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Federal Emergency Management Agency: http://www.fema.gov/
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Listed on October 28, 2015 [Critical Releases]