In “Wither the Emergency Manager,” Niel R. Britton comments on Drabek's “Human Responses to disaster: An Inventory of Sociological Findings.” Britton describes six positive and negative issues in emergency management as it is today. In this paper, we will discuss the implications on emergency management as a field and on the individual manager.
In the first positive development, Britton describes New Zealand's efforts to move emergency management into a wider area (instead of simply preparedness and response). Here emergency managers are to be more involved in land management programs, which can help to prevent massive preventable damage in a disaster. Although this moves the career field into a more diffuse mission, mitigation is an important part of the emergency management response. Emergency managers will need to become more adept at identifying potential problem areas in advance, and academic inflation may result from this new mindset. However, I believe it is a positive step forward in our field.
The next point that he argues is for a stronger need for “Knowledge based training” as opposed to the skill oriented training that we currently are engaged in. Although since the time of his writing, I believe that we are moving further into the realm of knowledge based training. Education is already quickly becoming the number one priority in the hiring of new emergency managers. The emergency management field already requires an immense amount of knowledge to be an effective manager in larger incidents. Along the same lines, he argues for research to be applicable to practice. Research for the sake of research is a staple in “classic” academia. However, Emergency Management is a field driven by the practical. If a practice does not work, it should quickly be discarded. The sixth point that he makes is that emergency management should be a multi-disciplinary and multi-national (and by extension, cultural) field. My bachelor's degree is in psychology, and I have found many lessons learned from psychology to be applicable to emergency management, especially group behavior in disasters.
Emergency managers that I have met tend to be sponges, soaking up information. Britton argues that uncertainty is becoming a large part of the emergency managers mindset. Emergency managers must coordinate with others outside the field to gain insight into many situations. Britton argues that legitimacy is gained from the interface with other careers to reach a common objective. The student must be able to work outside of their comfort zones to develop this...