The dilemma the Emergency Manager of Averyville faces is common when disasters occur, where the affected communities often have needs that exceed immediately available resources. When faced with such a challenge, the disaster manager is obligated to prudently utilize available resources to have the most desirable outcomes for the affected people. In line with this, the emergency manager should consider triaging, an effective disaster management practice that entails separating, classifying, and prioritizing the needs of injured or at-risk individuals for urgent attention. Triaging allows the first respondents to a disaster scene lacking resources to provide services to the neediest to ensure the greatest number of people are secured. The emergency manager has performed remarkably well in the pre-disaster phase by activating the Emergency Operations Center in anticipation of a major flooding disaster but faces challenges because of an acute shortage of resources, particularly the rescue boats. The demands placed by the Fire Chief and the Police Chief contrast; in line with the circumstances, the most viable option for the emergency manager is to provide the Fire Chief with the boats first because of the chances of rescuing as many people as possible.
The decision to provide the Fire Chief with the boats ahead of the Police Chief is justified because the department has been in the process of rescuing people and understands their immediate needs. On the contrary, the Police Chief is concerned with the fate of his officers and the inmates currently under threat in the local jail annex. Accordingly, the officers at the jail annex may not be prepared to respond effectively to the disaster because they do not understand the logistics of the disaster currently underway. In disaster management, preparation is paramount because it enhances resilience and boosts the capacity to respond effectively to the disaster (Torani et al., 2019). The Fire Chief is capable of rescuing individuals trapped in their homes before rescuing the jailer and offenders held at the local jail annex. Hence, the emergency manager should reach out to the Fire Chief, who is well-placed to assist individuals already trapped on rooftops and whose homes are close to a river, before proceeding to rescue individuals at the jail annex.
Appeasing the other chief who does not get the boat should happen much later after the situation is securely under control. In disaster response, concerned stakeholders should refrain from trading accusations because it interferes with the rescue mission and negates efforts to rescue people (Khan et al., 2018). However, the emergency manager could inform the Police Chief who fails to receive the boats that the decision was made based on the immediate needs and available resources in line with the principles of triage. In most cases, triaging in emergencies requires the classification and prioritization of people at risk, the speed of response, and the expected performance accuracy (Bazyar et al., 2020). In any case, officers at the jail annex are likely to have received emergency response training, implying they were likely to survive the flooding compared with members of the public whose houses are inundated. Thus, the Police Chief should be informed that the decision was reached after carefully analyzing the needs of the most affected but vulnerable people.
The fact that the boats from the State Office of Emergency Management are three away hours implies the emergency manager has to use available resources pragmatically while waiting for the arrival of backup. When faced with challenges, the most effective response is to utilize available resources while coordinating efforts to secure external assistance. The emergency manager should not wait for the additional boats to arrive; instead, the available boats should be deployed to assist rescue efforts. One of the core attributes of an emergency manager is the ability to use discernment in allocating scarce resources in the wake of a disaster and making the most out of the situation; the focus should not be on the delivery of resources but rather on the effective management of the available but limited resources (Kironji et al., 2018). Taking such an approach would make operational sense in the short term, given the prevailing circumstances.
The After Action Report should be as comprehensive and objective as possible in analyzing the response to a disaster to inform future measures. The essence of the After Action Report is to identify specific issues with the emergency management plan and areas of improvement, recommend measures to improve the plan and capture vital lessons learned from the experience (Gossip et al., 2017). Accordingly, the After Action Report will not focus on personal relations between the emergency manager, the Fire Chief, and Police Chief. On the contrary, it will be used for the benefit of all people living in Averyville to ensure the community is better prepared to handle similar incidences in the future.
Disasters can be overwhelming when the scarcity of resources hinders the response, but effective management should guide decision-making and ensure the recovery efforts produce the desired results. The case of the emergency manager of Averyville aptly captures the dilemmas likely to emerge when limited resources are available for a massive rescue mission. Ethical issues are bound to occur, especially in situations where the decision taken could determine whether certain groups of affected people survive the disaster or not. The emergency manager should demonstrate courage to make the most suitable decision guided by facts and driven by the will to do the things that are humanly possible. Importantly, stakeholders should support the emergency manager in executing measures that promise the most desirable outcomes for the largest number of affected people.
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Gossip, K. et al. (2017). Monitoring and evaluation of disaster response efforts undertaken by local health departments: a rapid realist review. BMC health services research, 17(450); 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-017-2396-8
Khan, Y. et al. (2018). . Public health emergency preparedness: a framework to promote resilience. BMC public health, 18(1344). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-6250-7
Kironji, A. et al. (2018). Identifying barriers for out of hospital emergency care in low and low-middle income countries: a systematic review. BMC health services research, 18(291). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-018-3091-0
Torani, S., Majd, P. M., Maroufi, S. S., Dowlati, M., & Sheikhi, R. A. (2019). The importance of education on disasters and emergencies: A review article. Journal of education and health promotion, 8, 85. https://doi.org/10.4103/jehp.jehp_262_18