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ICG Risk Blog - [ Where trickledown preparedness does not work ]

Where trickledown preparedness does not work


Part 5

Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters (CARD) is an emergency preparedness and disaster response resource for nonprofits and community agencies serving special needs individuals and their dependents. Unlike FEMA and large federal disaster response operations, CARD deals with very personal, very specific preparedness at the personal, community-based and infrastructure level for special needs individuals. Almost all their clientele is a 'first victim' and many are overlooked and are left behind as part of the soft underbelly of large federal disaster recovery.

Very few of the CARD and their community-based organization (CBO) clients are included in large federal disaster simulations, yet Katrina and Rita show us how demanding are their needs and the level of resources required to remove, stabilize and provide intensive care. Failing to encompass them in planning and execution drains away many first responders, even placing them in physical danger.

The traditional FEMA disaster response model designed for the general public is short-term, employs "one-size-fits-all" mass-care, is externally supported and focuses on emergency, disaster-caused needs. In contrast, the CARD disaster response model is long-term, employs specialized care, is internally supported and focuses on ongoing needs.

CARD rose from the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake that preempted the World Series. When Federal, Red Cross and traditional response organizations were deficient in addressing the short-term and long-term needs of a diverse population, the Bay Area United Way mobilized community based organizations to serve a special needs clientele. CARD inherited and continues that vision.

It is worthwhile to scan the spectrum of CARD/CBO clients. As the Boomer generation continues to age, we can only expect their number to grow and thus the level of assets needed to protect them in an emergency will grow accordingly:

  • Physically Disabled (from minor disabilities causing restriction of some motions or activities, to totally disabled requiring full-time attendant care for feeding, toileting, and personal care)
  • Mentally Disabled (from minor disabilities where independence and ability to function in most circumstances is retained, to no ability to safely survive independently, attend to personal care, etc.)
  • Blind (range of visual challenges and impairments - low vision, night blindness, color blindness, depth perception challenges, situational loss of sight, etc.)
  • Deaf (late-deafened, hearing impaired, hard-of-hearing and the range of hearing challenges and impairments such as situational loss of hearing, limited-range hearing, etc.)
  • Medically Dependent / Fragile (dependent on life-sustaining medications such as with HIV/AIDS and diabetes, or are dependent on medications to control conditions and maintain quality of life such as pain medications, seizure control medications etc.)
  • Medically Compromised (multiple chemical sensitivities or weakened immune systems, and those who cannot be in (or use) public accommodations for a variety of reasons)
  • Seniors (frail elderly, aged, elder citizens, older persons and the range of people whose needs are often determined by their age and age-related considerations)
  • Clients of the Criminal Justice System (ex-convicts, parolees, people under house arrest, registered sex offenders, child molesters, etc.)
  • Limited English or non-English speaking (monolingual individuals as well as those with limited ability to speak, read, write or fully understand English)
  • Homeless or Shelter Dependent (those marginally or temporarily housed or in shelters for abused women and children)
    Culturally Isolated (people with little or no interaction or involvement outside of their immediate community. This is the broad meaning of the words ‘culture’ and ‘community’, including religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, etc.)
  • Chemically Dependent (substance abusers and others who would experience withdrawal or other symptoms due to lack of access, such as methadone users)
  • Children (babies, infants, unattended minors, runaways and latchkey kids -- anyone below the age of majority)
  • Geographically Isolated (no access to services or information, limited access to escape routes, geography overwhelmingly determines lifestyles, habits, behaviors or options)
  • Poor (extremely low income, without resources, without political voice, limited access to services and limited ability to address their own needs)
  • Single Parents (lone guardians, others with formal or informal childcare responsibilities – especially those with no other support systems)
  • Persons Distrusting of Authorities (those without documentation, political dissidents, and others who will not avail themselves of government, American Red Cross or other traditional service providers due to a variety of reasons)
  • Animal Owners (owners of pets, companion animals or livestock - includes those who will make life and death decisions based on their animals, such as refusing to evacuate or go to a shelter if it means separating from an animal)
  • Emergent Special Needs (developing special needs because of the disaster, such as spontaneous anxiety/stress disorders, or recurrence of a dormant health condition, etc.
  • Transient Special Needs (those temporarily classified as special needs due to a temporary condition, status or illness – such as tourists who will need care until they can leave, those who can’t see until glasses are replaced, etc.)

Given the short-term vs. long-term differentiation between federal and CARD assets, many needs will "not become apparent immediately but may instead surface months or years later – when "imported" support and other government programs have gone away or have been transitioned out."

Recovery phases bring increased demands as people with or without special needs will often turn to CBOs for support in the absence of federal care, thereby creating a surge in services demand when the more well-to-do believe that the risk is past. Stress-related issues such as domestic violence and child abuse, suicide prevention and substance abuse aggravate demand for services as do the basic survival issues of food and shelter, job training and placement, and rent, housing repair and replacement support.

It is also instructive to examine the event threat list that CARD and its CBOs recognize that they must prepare for a very wide scale of disasters:

  • Earthquakes
  • Floods, flash floods
  • Fires: wildland, urban, suburban, industrial, hazardous materials
  • Disease: Human/Animal/Vegetation epidemic; food-, water- or air-borne, vector spread, occupational, infectious, contagious, fatal, quarantine response, vaccination issues
  • Terrorism: Agri-, Bio-, Cyber-, attempted, assassination, threats, hoaxes, domestic vs. international, "weaponized" planes, trains, automobiles, trucks, boats, cargo containers, mail...
  • Crowd incidents: civil unrest, marches, riots, protests
  • Structure Collapse: bridges, buildings, dams, highways, tunnels, pipelines, underwater tubes
  • Highway/roadway/transit route incidents: multi-vehicle accidents, jack-knife tractor trailers, spills, lost loads
  • Maritime incidents: collision, explosion, fire, sinking, grounding
  • Mass Transit incidents: collisions, fires
  • Nuclear incidents: power plant, theft, waste transport, weapons accident
  • Hazardous Material: airborne release, spill, explosion, fire, nuclear, radiological, waste removal and transport, medical waste
  • Railroad incidents: collisions, derailments, fires, explosions
  • Mine incidents: explosions, fires, collapse
  • Hijacking: air, train, boat, bus, other conveyance
  • Aviation incidents: crash, collision, space flight accident
  • Critters: insect infestation, cicadas, crickets, ticks, vermin, etc.
  • Economic collapse, genuine and non-genuine destabilization of your currency
  • Landslides/mudslides
  • Mass Murder/Mass Suicide
  • Strike, sick outs, work stoppage
  • School Shootings
  • Seiches (underwater wave in enclosed body of water)
  • Smog, air pollution, air quality, ozone depletion
  • Drought
  • Heat waves
  • Utility Failure: water, electricity, gas, telecommunications, cable
  • Sniper incidents
  • Storm: rain, severe thunderstorm, hail, wind, snow
  • Tornado
  • Tsunami, tidal wave
  • Volcanic Eruption
  • Extra-terrestrial incidents: meteors, space debris, UFO’s
  • Other disasters as assigned…

Disaster planning and recovery is a long-term, personal issue for which those not in harms way find it difficult to maintain the mindshare, resources and money needed for recovery.

Part 7

Disasters and Traditional Emergency Response Organizations
Ana-Marie Jones
Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters
Center for Infectious Disease Preparedness
April 5, 2005

Disaster Preparedness for Special Populations
Ana-Marie Jones
Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters
Center for Infectious Disease Preparedness
March 29, 2005

Community Based Organizations: Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery
Ana-Marie Jones
Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disasters
Center for Infectious Disease Preparedness
April 19, 2005

Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Infrastructure Defense Public  Strategic Risk Public  


  • A colleague asked, "Cant we prove mathematically that evacuations of an ent...more
    - [Gordon]

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