Disasters will never stop occuring. This is inevitable due to natural forces, technical failures, and human behavior. But experience has shown again and again, that lives can be saved and damage reduced …. by preparing for a catastrophic situation before it occurrs.

The United States and the rest of the world were and still are hit again and again by all kind of calamities, from volcanic eruptions, to tornadoes and floods, to terrorist bombings and shootings. Even if a disaster occurrence is often seen as "an act of god,"ist potential impact depends on human preparedness and actions.

Unfortunately every authority is used to prepare and respond to a disaster in its own way. Different organisations have their unique missions and responsibilities; they have varied resources and capabilities; sometimes they even operate under contrary procedures and agendas. In addition to that, disaster policies are almost re-active, focusing on response and recovery operations. Impact prevention through safety and mitigation strategies are in comparism often neglected.

There have been no national or international standards on disaster management in the past. This is not acceptable in times when even fast food restaurants use the same operating standards throughout the world.

A technical committee with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has, therefore, developed the national document "Emergency/Disaster Management and Business Continuity Programs."This NFPA standard 1600 has past all necessary votes and will become published and effective in the next weeks.

The purpose of the standard is to establish a common set of criteria for disaster/ emergency management and business continuity programs. Standardized policies will enable private and public entities to mitigate, to prepare for, to respond to, and to recover from any kind of emergency in a proper way. The goal is to build disaster-resistant communities, to establish public/private partnerships, and to emphasize pro-active approaches.

Definiton:

A disaster is a suddenly occurring or unstoppable event, that overwhelms the resources of impacted people and regions, has a long-term impact on social or natural life, and is always negative in the beginning.

Gunnar J. Kuepper

Detailed program objectives in dealing with any emergency/disaster situation are:

  • Saving lives,

  • Preventing escalation and further damage,

  • Relieving pain and suffering,

  • Protecting property, the environment, and the economy,

  • Maintaining essential services,

  • Informing the public,

  • Promoting self-help and recovery,

  • Facilitating investigation,

  • Identifying lessons learned,

  • Restoring normalcy.

To initiate an Emergency-Disaster Management/Business Continuity Program approval, support, and funding from executive management is a prerequisite. The next steps are raising awareness and gathering the input of other groups. Asmany individuals, departments, and organizations as possible should be involved in the planning process. Differententities will add distinct views and support with additional ideas, solutions, and resources.

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