Shaping Comprehensive Emergency Response Networks

Shaping Comprehensive Emergency Response Networks

W. Treurniet (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6058-8.ch002

Abstract

Given its nature, a crisis has a significant community impact. This applies in particular to emergencies: crises that arise quickly. Because of the complex and multifaceted nature of large-scale incidents, the response requires coordinated effort by multiple organizations. This networked collaboration is not solely restricted to professional organizations. In responding to an incident, the affected community can itself be an important source of information and capabilities. This chapter discusses how one can shape a trustworthy and decisive response organization in which relevant and useful capacities available in the community are incorporated. This discussion has two focal points. The first focal point is the role of the affected community in the case of an emergency. On the one hand, an emergency affects the fabric of the community, such as the critical infrastructure. On the other, a community has inherent internal resources that give it resilience and capacity to respond in a crisis. This needs to be reflected in the choice of emergency response planning model. The second focal point is the structure of the emergency response network. An emergency response network is a mixed-sector network. This means that coordination is needed among organizations and collectives with differing strategic orientations.
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Introduction

Because of the complex and multifaceted nature of large-scale safety and security incidents such as floods and severe power outages, the response requires coordinated effort by multiple organizations. Some organizations are involved in the response because of their societal responsibilities. In the Dutch system for example, in principle, an emergency situation does not affect the regular allocation of responsibilities. Responsibilities in normal circumstances are still valid in an emergency situation (Brainich, 2012). Other organizations are involved because they can provide relevant information, knowledge or capabilities. In a densely populated and complex community, even a relatively small incident often requires the involvement of and collaboration among twenty or more organizations (Treurniet, van Buul-Besseling, & Wolbers, 2012). This collaboration is not solely restricted to professional organizations. Scholars (Dupont, 2004; Dynes, 1994; Helsloot & Ruitenberg, 2004; Lindell, Perry, Prater, & Nicholson, 2006; Nakagawa & Shaw, 2004; Quarantelli & Dynes, 1985), policy-makers and practitioners stress that, in responding to an incident, the affected community can itself be an important source of information and capabilities. On the one hand, this acknowledges the limitedness of the potential of professional emergency response (ER). On the other, this reflects and recognizes the resilience of communities. The key question in this chapter is: what does this mean from the perspective of the response organization? How can one shape a trustworthy and decisive response organization, in which relevant and useful capacities available in the community are incorporated?

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