Is your department prepared for natural disasters?
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Parts of Louisiana near Baton Rouge saw up to 31 inches of rain as a massive storm system sat on the area for two days beginning Aug. 12. Now, the state is reeling from disastrous flooding that has led to 11 deaths so far and the loss of more than 40,000 homes — damages that will run up to billions of dollars.
And Louisiana is not alone as the United States has been hit with 18 major flood events since March of 2015, including nearby states like Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Just this June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster across 31 counties.
Meanwhile, wildfires are spreading throughout Southern California, and more than 82,000 people have been forced to evacuate.
The common link in these weather-related events are law enforcement officials — the first responders during emergency and crisis. For them, it is all about safety and security of the community while combating the fierce odds of natural disasters.
Team effort and emergency management planning play a significant role in saving lives, and it requires plenty of planning, training and communication.
In Louisiana, law enforcement agencies have joined hands to launch massive search-and-rescue operations. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Craig Fugate told MSNBC that 66,000 people have already registered for federal help, a staggering number that shows the extent of the disaster and the lives it has touched.
As an intricate part of the emergency/disaster response team, FEMA works hand in hand with the police and first responders during crisis situations. As early as 2013, Fugate had outlined in detail how officers train and prepare for such conditions.
In some ways, it is no different from their everyday jobs where they have to prepare to face any danger to protect the community. The biggest difference is that they also have to deal with the force of nature adding to the danger as officers extend the first helping hand to survivors.
Departments that focus on training their officers and upgrading their resources ensure better response and recovery from disasters and emergencies. Focus on local knowledge is also stressed on because an officer's knowledge of his/her community can open up better communication channels and work hand in hand with locals as a team to during and after a crisis. It offers them with valuable situational awareness, whether they are going door to door to rescue citizens trapped inside or offering large-scale shelter for a crowd.
Local departments work in unison with the National Guard and the Coast Guard, reserve forces and even local security officials for search-and-rescue missions, for evacuations and for maintaining overall public and community safety. They collaborate with other first responders and local organizations to direct survivors to safer locations and to perform health and welfare checks on residents.
FEMA's Ready Responder toolkit is one go-to option that is aimed helping departments and officer families develop their own safety and emergency preparedness plans. There is also the Incident Command System (ICS), an invaluable all-hazards management tool that aids in coordinated response among various jurisdictions, which leads to a more cohesive team effort.
Natural disasters have negative impacts on basic infrastructural facilities like electricity and water. For the police, this means closing unsafe roadways, rerouting traffic and identifying new routes for emergency responders and other emergency management teams in addition to their direct rescue efforts.
In his blog last year, Baltimore City Police Department Director Vernon Herron highlighted how catastrophic disasters like Hurricane Katrina has acted as a wakeup call for the local police and ramped up their training efforts toward emergency preparedness and coordination efforts, even broadening their roles during a crisis.
Preparedness kits that include food and water, personal preparedness plans and kits for their families are essential for police departments throughout the country. Additional instances of looting, theft and destruction to property renders the need for their crime fighting training to kick in at the same time as they administer advanced life-saving techniques and rescue operations.
It is no secret that police departments across the country are stretched thin and struggling for funds and resources. They have to fall back on whatever resources they have in times of need, like they are facing now in Louisiana and California.
It is imperative administrations understand what odds our officers face and double efforts to improve their emergency training and preparedness, include emerging technologies and resources to help them in their heroic efforts.
- 7 trigger control errors and how to fix them
- The stress of 911 call-takers and emergency dispatchers
- Children of the badge: The impact of stress on law enforcement children
- Married to the badge: Stress in the law enforcement marriage
- Managing law enforcement stress through emotional intelligence
- Modern slavery and the hidden world of human trafficking
- Why stand and deliver simply doesn’t work
- The MPX is PCC perfection
- During pandemic, US hospitals are firing, furloughing and cutting pay
- Repurpose the foundation
- Virtual events are essential marketing tools for the short and long term
- How to get free PR for your telehealth services
- What to know about Texas’ turkey hunting season
See your work in future editions
Your content, Your Expertise,
Your Industry Needs YOUR Expert Voice & We've got the platform you needFind Out How