Disaster Management Cycle

Mitigation: Measures that prevent or reduce the impact of disasters.
Preparedness: Planning, training, & educational activities for things that cant be mitigated.
Response: The immediate aftermath of a disaster, when business is not as usual.
Recovery: The long-term aftermath of a disaster, when restoration efforts are in addition to regular services.
Management (or disaster management) is the discipline dealing of with and avoiding risks. It is a discipline that involves preparing, supporting, and rebuilding society when natural or human-made disasters occur.
In general, any Emergency management is the continuous process by which all individuals, groups, and communities manage hazards in an effort to avoid or ameliorate the impact of disasters resulting from the hazards.
Actions taken depend in part on perceptions of risk of those exposed. Effective emergency management relies on thorough integration of emergency plans at all levels of government and non-government involvement. Activities at each level (individual, group, community) affect the other levels. It is common to place the responsibility for governmental emergency management with the institutions for civil defence or within the conventional structure of the emergency services. In the private sector, emergency management is sometimes referred to as business continuity management.
Mitigation efforts attempt to prevent hazards from developing into disasters altogether, or to reduce the effects of disasters when they occur. The mitigation phase differs from the other phases because it focuses on long-term measures for reducing or eliminating risk  Personal mitigation is mainly about knowing and avoiding unnecessary risks. This includes an assessment of possible risks to personal/family health and to personal property.
An example of personal non-structural mitigation would be to avoid buying property that is exposed to hazards, e.g. in a flood plain, in areas of subsidence or landslides. Homeowners may not be aware of their home being exposed to a hazard until it strikes. Real estate agents may not come forward with such information. However, specialists can be hired to conduct risk
assessment surveys. Insurance covering the most prominent identified risks are a common measure.
Personal structural mitigation in earthquake prone areas include installation of an Earthquake Valve to instantly shut off the natural gas supply to your property, seismic retrofits of property and the securing of items inside the building to enhance household seismic safety such as the mounting of furniture, refrigerators, water heaters and breakables to the walls, and the addition of cabinet latches. In flood prone areas houses can be built on poles, like in much of southern Asia. In areas prone to prolonged electricity black-outs a generator would be an example of an optimal structural mitigation measure. The construction of storm cellars and fallout shelters are further examples of personal mitigative actions.
In the preparedness phase, emergency managers develop plans of action for when the disaster strikes. Common preparedness measures include:
  • The Communication plans with easily understood terminology and chain of command
  • Development and practice of multi-agency coordination and incident command
  • Proper maintenance and training of emergency services
  • Development and exercise of emergency population warning methods combined with emergency shelters and evacuation plans
  • Stockpiling, inventory, and maintenance of supplies and equipment
An efficient preparedness measure is an emergency operations centre (EOC) combined with a practiced region-wide doctrine for managing emergencies. Another preparedness measure is to develop a volunteer response capability among civilian populations. Since, volunteer response is not always as predictable and plan-able as professional response; volunteers are often deployed on the periphery of an emergency unless they are a proven and established volunteer organization with standards and training.
On the contrary to mitigation activities which are aimed at preventing a disaster from occurring, personal preparedness are targeted on preparing activities to be taken when a disaster occurs, i.e. planning. Preparedness measures can take many forms. Examples include the construction of shelters, warning devices, back-up life-line services (e.g. power, water, sewage), and rehearsing an evacuation plan. Two simple measures prepare you for either sitting out the event or evacuating. For evacuation, a disaster supplies kit should be prepared and for sheltering purposes a stockpile of supplies.
The response phase includes the mobilization of the necessary emergency services and first responders in the disaster area. This is likely to include a first wave of core emergency services, such as fire-fighters, police and ambulance crews. They may be supported by a number of secondary emergency services, such as specialist rescue teams.
We work in all Phases of Disaster management and through our supported teams we respond in moments after a disaster hits as as well as the other phases to try to reduce the chance of it happening in the first place or to reduce the impact of a disaster.  We can respond worldwide to LEDCs (Less Economically Developed Countries) as well as MEDCs (More Economically Developed Countries.
SOURCE: Photo taken by Gary Foo during the Oct 2005 Earthquake in Pakistan.

In addition volunteers and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the local Red Cross branch or St. John Ambulance may provide immediate practical assistance, from first aid provision to providing tea and coffee. A well rehearsed emergency plan developed as part of the preparedness phase enables efficient coordination of rescue efforts. Emergency plan rehearsal is essential to achieve optimal output with limited resources. In the response phase, medical assets will be used in accordance with the appropriate triage of the affected victims.
Sometimes it is useful to remember the survival law of 3’s is significant if you consider the survival profile of the person and the situation and add that to the other important factors in a survival situation.  This works in a displaced wilderness scenario or a disaster, such as earthquakes in an urban or austere / mountainous environment.

The survival law of 3s is often quoted as:
  1. Air    3 Minutes without air
  2. Water  3 days without water
  3. Food  3 weeks without food
  • Shelter  Finding shelter is important to keep warm or cool and protected.(Some say 3 hours without shelter in harsh areas)
  • Health  Proper healthy living, nutrition, activity, medical, etc., is needed.
  • Company / Moral: Some add - 3 months without companny.
Where required, search and rescue efforts commence at a very early stage. Depending on injuries sustained by the victim, outside temperature, and victim access to air and water, their location, etc., the vast majority of those severely affected by a disaster may die within 72 hours after impact.  Within a week of a major incident SAR Teams often leave and the incident enters a ‘Recovery phase’.  Medical response obviously has obvious important applications in the ‘Direct Impact’ phase and the ‘Indirect Impact’ phase – as a secondary result of the incident.  (Llike disease, infection and post trauma treatment.)

Individuals often feel compelled to volunteer directly after a disaster. Volunteers can be both a help and a hindrance to emergency management and other relief agencies. A spontaneous, unaffiliated volunteer can actually harm the effectiveness of coordinated agencies – some earning the term ‘disaster tourists’ running into an event with preparation, coordination or even informing anyone – of their whereabouts and intentions.  However trained and prepared volunteers under the direction of an organizing agency, such as mobile SAR Disaster Teams, can provide many benefits to the troubling effects of a disaster.
The response phase of an emergency may commence with a search and rescue phase. However in all cases the focus will be on fulfilling the basic needs of the affected population on a humanitarian basis. This assistance may be provided by national and/or international agencies and organisations. Effective coordination of disaster assistance is often crucial particularly when many organisations respond and Local Emergency Management Agency (LEMA) capacity may be over-stretched and diminished by the disaster itself.
On an individual or personal level, your decision / response can take the shape either of a home confinement or an evacuation.  In a home confinement scenario a you and your family should be prepared to fend for yourselves in their home for several days without any form of outside support.

In an evacuation scenario, you and the family evacuates by a vehicle with the maximum amount of supplies, including a tent for shelter. The scenario could also include equipment for evacuation on foot with at least three days of supplies and rain-tight bedding a tarpaulin and a bedroll of blankets, would be the minimum.
The aim of the recovery phase is to restore the affected area to its previous state. It differs from the response phase in its focus; recovery efforts are concerned with issues and decisions that must be made after immediate needs are addressed. Recovery efforts are primarily concerned with actions that involve rebuilding destroyed property, re-employment, and the repair of other essential infrastructure.
An important aspect of effective recovery efforts is taking advantage of a 'window of opportunity' for the implementation of mitigative measures that might otherwise be unpopular. Citizens of the affected area are more likely to accept more mitigative changes when a recent disaster is in fresh memory.  The recovery phase starts when the immediate threat to human life has subsided. In the reconstruction it is recommended to reconsider the location or construction material of the property.
In long term disasters the most extreme home confinement scenarios like war, famine and severe epidemics last up to a year. In this situation the recovery will take place inside the home.
Planners for these events usually buy bulk foods and appropriate storage and preparation equipment, and eat the food as part of normal life. A simple balanced diet can be constructed from vitamin pills, whole-meal wheat, beans, dried milk, corn, and cooking oil. One should add vegetables, fruits, spices and meats, both prepared and fresh-gardened, when possible.
The standard time frame of rescue, relief and rehabilitation are usually defined as approximately 7 days, 3 months and 5 years respectively.   (This is an approximate rule.)
The rescue operation starts with the local residents, immediately after the earthquake / disaster. It is usually supported by the trained and skilled staffs from the (Urban) Search and Rescue (SAR) departments of the governments. These activities can be complemented by the non-government organizations (NGO).
International Relief Teams arrive in the later stage, usually after 24 hours, depending on the accessibility, and political relation with the country.
Rescue phase usually lasts for the first 48 to 72 hours after a disaster when the rate of survival of trapped victims is high. Rescue operations continue for much longer duration, however, after the first 2 to 3 day, the resources allocated for rescue are comparatively low since other priorities take over.  Initially Rescue may be 'self-rescue' or the rescue by bystanders or witnesses. 
Relief phase followed immediately after the Rescue phase. During the relief phase, the focus is to provide basic necessities to victims of the earthquake and to restore social equilibrium. Detailed assessment of human and other losses is also usually carried out during the relief phase, which helps in optimal allocation of resources.
Relief phase may last between 1 to 3 months depending on the severity of the earthquake and the resources of the government. Community, supported by government is usually the central point. Added resources of the NGOs and the international organization substantiate this effort.
Rehabilitation/reconstruction phase aims to restore the communities to the pre-earthquake status.  During this phase, the social and other infrastructure is restored and economy revitalised. The rehabilitation/reconstruction phase typically starts at the end of relief phase and may last for several years.

The short term plans of the recovery process are clearance of debris, building housing units, restoration of the lifelines and infrastructures, while the long-term objective is to build a safer and sustainable livelihood. Past experiences show that the efforts are sustainable only with community / government partnership, while NGOs and international organizations role is reduced after a certain period.
The Disaster Management Cycle:  Therefore, disaster management can be divided in several phases, (depending on the perspective and definition of each phase).