The Disaster Management Process
A disaster is any event, natural or man-caused, which creates an intense negative impact on people, goods and services, and/or the environment, and exceeds the affected community’s internal capability to respond, prompting the need to seek outside assistance. One such example is Hurricane Gilbert that affected Jamaica on September 12, 1988.
The Comprehensive Disaster Management Cycle
Jamaica, through the ODPEM, has embarked on a Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) programme that illustrates the cyclic process by which we plan for and reduce the impact of disasters, and take steps to recover after a disaster has occurred. Appropriate actions at all points in the CDM cycle will lead to greater preparedness, better warnings, reduced vulnerability or the prevention of disasters during the next repetition of the cycle.
Phases of the CDM Cycle
During the preparedness phase of the CDM cycle measures are taken to reduce the minimum level possible, of loss in human life and other damage, through the organization of prompt and efficient actions of response and rehabilitation such as practicing earthquake and fire drills.
Preparedness activities are geared towards minimizing disaster damage, enhancing disaster response operations and preparing organizations and individuals to respond. They also involve planning, organizing, training, interaction with other organizations and related agencies, resource inventory, allocation and placement, and plan testing.
Actions carried out in a disaster situation with the objective to save a life, alleviate suffering and reduce economic losses. The main tool in response is the implementation of plans which were prepared prior to the event.
Response activities are post activities geared towards:
- Providing emergency assistance
- Reducing the probability of additional injuries or damage
- Speeding recovery operations
- Returning systems to normal level
In the recovery phase, also referred to as the recovery and rehabilitation phase, activities are geared towards the restoration of basic services and the beginning of the repair of physical, social and economic damage e.g. lifelines, health and communication facilities, as well as utility systems.
The recovery phase also includes efforts to reduce disaster risk factors.
During the mitigation phase, structural and non-structural measures are undertaken to limit the adverse impact of natural hazards, environmental degradation, and technological hazards. According to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the adverse impacts of hazards often cannot be prevented fully, but their scale or severity can be substantially lessened by various strategies and actions.
Management activities in the mitigation phase encompass engineering techniques and hazard-resistant construction as well as improved environmental policies and public awareness, as well as hazard vulnerability and risk assessment.
Measures were taken during the mitigation phase also address preventing natural or man-caused events from giving rise to disasters or any emergency situations, e.g. not allowing your child to have access to matches, gasoline, or kerosene oil.