Survey Suggests Natural Disaster Teams are Better Prepared

Oct. 24, 2007
A new, multi-state survey indicates that natural disaster teams at public health facilities across the country are better prepared for a major national disaster like Hurricane Katrina, with respondents pointing to improvements in communications, collaboration, planning and coordination.

“We are significantly better prepared because of the redundant communication capabilities we now have in place,” said LaJean Volmer of the South Dakota Department of Health.

The survey, which was administered by Global Secure, a provider of emergency preparedness and response systems, found that 77 percent of surveyed state public health departments are “significantly” or “somewhat better” prepared to respond to major emergencies. These results suggest that the catastrophes of 2005 are not likely to be repeated if a similar natural disaster strikes again.

The survey also found that 67 percent of respondents acknowledged that a valuable lesson learned through experience, such as witnessing the Hurricane Katrina disaster, is the need for advance planning. The breakdown in communication and collaboration during Katrina, whether in providing medical support, allocating resources or helping evacuees, was largely to blame for the resulting catastrophe.

“What really is key is understanding that planning in isolation does not produce a quality product,” said Cindy Gleason of the Washington State Department of Health Office of Risk and Emergency Management. “Planning with other agencies puts you in a better readiness state, rather than just an awareness state.”

Survey respondents also indicated the need for strong leadership and regular drills. Approximately 60 percent of surveyed state health departments reported they have established new, regular exercises and drills for first responders.

“The site of a disaster is not the place for responders to be exchanging business cards,” said Craig Bandes, CEO of Global Secure. “These relationships must be established and tested long before the event. Our survey indicates that progress has been made, and that pre-crisis communication and preparation at the state and local levels has improved dramatically across the country.”

About the Author

Laura Walter

Laura Walter was formerly senior editor of EHS Today. She is a subject matter expert in EHS compliance and government issues and has covered a variety of topics relating to occupational safety and health. Her writing has earned awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the Trade Association Business Publications International (TABPI) and APEX Awards for Publication Excellence. Her debut novel, Body of Stars (Dutton) was published in 2021.

Sponsored Recommendations

Free Webinar: ISO 45001 – A Commitment to Occupational Health, Safety & Personal Wellness

May 30, 2024
Secure a safer and more productive workplace using proven Management Systems ISO 45001 and ISO 45003.

ISO 45003 – Psychological Health and Safety at Work

May 30, 2024
ISO 45003 offers a comprehensive framework to expand your existing occupational health and safety program, helping you mitigate psychosocial risks and promote overall employee...

DH Pace, national door and dock provider, reduces TRIR and claims with EHS solution

May 29, 2024
Find out how DH Pace moved from paper/email/excel to an EHS platform, changing their culture. They reduced TRIR from 4.8 to 1.46 and improved their ability to bid on and win contracts...

Case Study: Improve TRIR from 4+ to 1 with EHS Solution and Safety Training

May 29, 2024
Safety training and EHS solutions improve TRIR for Complete Mechanical Services, leading to increased business. Moving incidents, training, and other EHS procedures into the digital...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of EHS Today, create an account today!