Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the winter storm were devastating to the affected areas and their residents/organisms. Secondary responders played a vital role in these incidences, supporting the primary responders in preparing, managing, cleaning up sites, offering relief, and returning services during and after the events (Role of Secondary Responders).
Disaster Management (Role of Secondary Responders)
The disaster response to these incidences included federal government agencies like the FEMA, the United States Coast Guard, state-level agencies, charities, private individuals, non-governmental organizations, and state and local-level agencies. Tens of thousands of volunteers and military troops also engaged in rescue activities, especially in areas affected, setting shelters in other states and offering relief services.
These second responders served under the ICS to develop, direct, and maintain communication, implement command objectives, organize and direct essential resources to the affected sites, and support the command centers with personnel and equipment (The Incident Command System, n.d.). Non-profits and organized individuals also offered funds during the response and recovery period (Role of Secondary Responders).
National Guard deployed were responsible for patrolling previously affected areas, restoring order, and supporting evacuation activities during Hurricane Katrina. The Coast Guard response included moving as many helicopters as possible to the affected areas to rescue individuals. They also moved thousands of small boats to help with the evacuation. The Coast Guard rescued thousands during the hurricane.
The Navy was also involved in relief efforts during Hurricane Katrina and dispatched Amphibious assault ships. Consequently, aircraft carriers, amphibious transport docks, fast combat support ships, and dock landing ships. The big ships carried helicopters used in search operations. The Navy also engaged with civilians to form rescue teams. The Navy played a significant part in coordinating rescue efforts. The Air Force responds by sending search, rescue, and evacuation teams and supplying relief and medical care to affected localities (Role of Secondary Responders).
Government non-military agencies like FEMA also respond by arranging logistic supply deployments and deploying the Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. It also deploys Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams. FEMA also partners with the Department of Transportation to distribute trucks with water, ice, and meals. The trucks can act as mobile homes (Role of Secondary Responders).
Other federal departments also play a role as secondary responders within the structured command. The Department of Education coordinates the enrollment of displaced students in other schools. The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers insurance relief. The Environmental Protection Agency Responds by supplying gasoline and diesel fuel and checking contaminants in floodwater samples. The Department of Labor coordinates the employment of temporary workers to help in recovery and clean-up activities.
The AmeriCorps also responds by sending emergency response crews to perform relief duties and support FEMA in tarping damaged roofs and removing debris. Other secondary responders include amateur radio operators who disseminate essential information to warn people in affected areas to stay out of danger. Other organizations like America’s Second Harvest, Camp Hope, and the Salvation Army respond by collecting food for relief and offering temporary shelters (Role of Secondary Responders).
The objectives of secondary responders are to support the primary responders in minimizing and avoiding more losses from the hazards, assure quick assistance to the affected, and achieve rapid and effective crisis recovery (Sinha & Srivastava, 2015). Most primary responders like police, fire personnel, and Emergency Response teams are often overwhelmed during many emergencies (Role of Secondary Responders).
Other government and non-government agencies and individual groups have to step in and help. Appropriate command structure leads to a better response, better warning, and mitigation of people/organisms, property, and infrastructure. When disasters occur, humanitarian organizations are often involved in the immediate response and extended recovery. The first responders do not work in isolation.
Response objectives include minimizing interruptions to typical rescue and evacuation operations, limiting the extent of disruption and damage, training personnel with emergency operations and procedures, recommending alternative means of operations, and ensuring a smooth and rapid service restoration. Additional response objectives include ensuring that vital materials, equipment, and supplies are available to safeguard the people and property (Role of Secondary Responders).
Management of disasters is under the mandate of local government officials like police and fire departments. However, due to the numerous stakeholders involved in the response and recovery operations, a standardized decision-making system, communication, command, and control are required. The structured control aims at mobilizing and coordinating the activities of various players in event management (Role of Secondary Responders).
The decision strategies aim at minimizing destruction from the disaster. They include advocacy, knowledge management, capacity building, teamwork, better coordination, and advanced response operations. Leaders and event commanders face multiple challenges while working through events. Factors that impair command and control include promoting unity among federal, non-profit, state, and local authorities.
Lack of effective coordination between these agencies can lead to lapses in command and control (Burroughs, 2017). Inadequate communication and situational awareness also affect decision-making. Loss of communication capabilities renders it impossible to communicate situations and needs. Ineffective communication affects the unity of command, degrading relief efforts due to delays and inadequate assistance (Role of Secondary Responders).
Other challenges include delayed and duplicate plans to carry out rescue and evacuations, uncoordinated search and rescue operations, and separate commands from different agencies and departments. For instance, during Hurricane Katrina, the military had a separate command. Confusion over supplies and equipment delivery, lack of clarity, and collapse of departmental capability affect the ability to coordinate operations and maintain order (Role of Secondary Responders).
Burroughs, J. E. (2017). Three factors lead to the failure of communications in emergencies.
Sinha, A., & Srivastava, R. (2015). Gender Aspect of Disaster Management in India.
The incident command system. (n.d.). AmeriCorps. https://www.nationalservice.gov/sites/default/files/olc/moodle/ds_online_orien