Depending on what part of the world you’re in, the task of responding to flooding can fall on Fire Services, Civil Defence, County Emergency Services, State Emergency Services, The Military, Volunteers or a combination of multiple emergency services.
Below are some tips to help improve the management of flood situations, regardless of what type of team or flooding scenario you are involved with.
I remember hearing stories of private fire services in New York during the 30’s. Where firefighters would be so keen to get the commission earned from extinguishing the fire that fights would break out between rival firehouses.
Without the proper authority figure operating incident command in a joint emergency services operation, the various teams are likely to get in each other's way and unnecessary tension created. A well run incident command eliminates the guesswork and time lost deciding who goes where and who performs what duty. In a situation of widespread flooding it is of critical importance, that there be a person or team with the authority to put response plans into action. The success or failure of a response plan rests heavily on effective communication and the ability to know what resources are available to you, click here for information on how [D4H] can help.
2. Place Human Safety First
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” an idiom that is never truer than in emergency response scenarios. How can we plan for prevention as emergency responders? Warn the public and help them prepare, by announcing flood watches and warnings. Evacuate early, assisting people who need help to depart safely and have them follow recommended exit routes. Flood prediction accounting for atmospheric pressure, tidal movements and the likelihood of tropical storms can give effective warnings. People may struggle to come to terms with events and the emotions of moving on as they stand to suffered huge losses.
It is good policy to educate business, families and authorities responsible for managing places people gather in large numbers (parks, town or shopping centers) to the importance of planning for:
- Building shutdown
- Safeguarding amenities
- Holding emergency supplies
- Turning off utilities
- Keeping in touch with civil authorities
3. Repair and recovery plan
At this point it’s also worth stressing the need for a response plan that outlines the procedures for the control and redirection of resources towards appropriate response activities. Procedures must be put in place that account for the shutdown and isolation of electricity and sewerage systems which may make relief efforts more hazardous and the movement or relocation of key equipment and resources. Our blog “5 Tips To Prepare Your Crew For Disasters” is a good starting place.
It is important to consider the procedure for getting activities back to normal as soon as possible. Considerations like:
- When buildings are safe to reenter
- When is is safe to turn on utilities
- When is it safe to return home
- Where to go for recovery help
It is all well and good planning for disaster but without consistent and continuous training even the best made plans will fall by the wayside. It’s worth noting researchers believe it takes doing something over 20 times before it becomes a learned habit. This is worth noting as this is the point you want your responders to reach, where they have become so well practised at a drill that they don’t have to think about procedures and what comes next they can just act. Regular planning and completion of the training needed to be an active and useful member of a response team is one of the reasons we built Decisions [D4H] to learn more about [D4H] click here to download our information pack.
Marc Healy - [D4H] Emergency Response Team Software Crew