Your opinion

I need your opinion if you agree or disagree with each paragraph

1.

The State Emergency Operations Center’s job during an emergency is to facilitate plans and coordinations already established in preparation. The comparison and difference between two separate EOP centers would depend on area and sum total of each emergency incident. Some comparisons include activation levels and response operations. The activation chart by Maryland.gov (2018) includes response measures for disaster events and degrees of response measures. The chart by Wisconsin.gov (2018) includes response and operation procedures for state emergencies that require military assistance.

All procedures by both examples require responsibilities coordinated by state agencies and State Emergencies Operations Centers (Wisconsin, 2018). Marylands procedures are based on the required responses based on the magnitude of the disaster. The chart by Wisconsin is based on a level number system and specifically states what agencies are to be contacted in that event in disasters ranging in natural to terrorist threats. The difference is that Wisconsin’s chart is more descriptive and specific on what types of disasters corresponds to the necessary response agencies.

For examples in differences by both Emergency Operation Center activation levels, they both distinguish what level the emergency is based on their levels of threat. This could vary from areas with higher populations and building density. Each response team determines the severity of the emergency and assigns the necessary agencies that are assigned to respond. Both states include a level system with each advanced level requiring a larger number of response teams, including military support (Wisconsin, 2018).

2.

Compare two separate state EOCs by describing the responsibilities of EMs when interacting with the EOCs.

In my region, the Pennsylvania the Governor has general direction and control over statewide responses and delegates these power as see fit. An emergency management coordinator (EMC) is appointed by the governor for each county. According PA Emergency Handbook every county, city has to have a trained EMC (PA ,2010, p4). The EMC for each county are in charge for developing and making sure their respective EOC is proper equipped and staffed for a disaster. In lager cities of the state like Philadelphia the director for emergency management is the person who would activate the EOC.

I chose Texas as the EOC to compare, in Texas it’s not mandatory for the local jurisdictions to appoint an EMC. The EMC is the lead in assisting in all coordinated response efforts while the Mayor or Country Judge serve as the Emergency Management Director. The EMD is in charge with activating the EOC while EMC just coordinates the communication with the other agency heads (law enforcement and EMS).

In comparison of the regions the EOC structure is uniform with the entire country but the EMC has a little more authority in Pennsylvania than in Texas. While larger Texas counties like Houston the EMD has sole command of the EOC.

Explain how each EOC responds to a critical incident.

Pennsylvania EOC like many other across the country follows the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and supports the on-scene Incident command during a critical event. The Philadelphia EOC for example employ’s a hybrid Incident Command Structure. Which add more staffing within the EOC from different entities private and public. During an event depending of the Level in this case critical, the EOC will be fully staffed. Also, the EOC will dispatch the appropriate liaison to the affected area to gather accurate information about the incident.

Harris County (Houston, TX) is one of the largest counties in the United States they have one of the most largest EOC’s in the country also. Due to the size of the facility an activation allows the EOC to county to coordinate with statewide officials in the event of a critical incident. In an activation, the EMD will be in direct contact with all the other agencies Incidents commands.

Describe differences between two EOCs in terms of how EM coordinate efforts of responding organizations.

In PA many of the EOC’s have expanded the area to fit more staff from the Department of Transportation. Due to the region being hit with road closures during the winter storm season. So that everyone is under one roof to collaborate. Many counties are also pushing local officials for expansion.

The Harris county EOC upgraded the facility after lesson learned during Hurricane’s Rita and Ike. According to an Texas OEM article on the issue (2014, par 6) , when the EOC was activated for well over 9 days during those storms it had to be fully staffed with more people than the facility could accommodate. Which made coordination efforts difficult. The new expansion to the facility has 98 workstations and responders can gather in one place without being on top of one another.

From my perspective being able to collaborate with efficiency goes along way on how well an EM can utilize its EOC with responding organizations. I found in researching , that size of the facility matters on how the EOC can efficiently coordinate to the responding organization. When agencies can share space, and view the same information at the same time provides a huge strength for the first responders in a major event. I found that many EOC’s across the country are expanding the prospective facilities due to technology advancing and the role of the EOC’S expanding to more than just natural disasters. I will use the Harris county EOC for example, it is activated in major and minor incidents this is beneficial for effective response time.

3.

Describe the advantages and disadvantages to reverse, or contraflow, traffic patterns during an evacuation.

The use of reverse, contraflow and traffic patterns during an evacuation does have its pros and cons. I for one believe that the use of modifiable evac plans with the implementation of the contra flow strategy is most useful for most counties. Most costal states include this strategy along with roadway closures, Montz , Wolshon (2013) advocate that an advantage being it is that it leads the compacity of the most important routes away from evac zones (p200). In my opinion, the disadvantage to this is that it creates confusion for evacuees. During Hurricane Irma Florida officials explained why “Contraflow” wouldn’t be effective there due to curtain lanes still being needed for supplies. As the Gov Rick Scott stated, “Contraflow also inhibits our ability to get emergency vehicles to people that need them (Clark 2017)”. My perspective this an advantage of a modified strategy that works because the DOT monitors and communicates it real-time. California currently utilizes a modified or adaptive pattern. A disadvantage to this approach is that the state doesn’t have “specific plans” (2013); authority is given to local officials and the law does not mention who has the authority to extend or lift evac orders. But as we all know you can’t predict a natural disaster. The recent mudslides are a prime example of that, many areas evacuations were voluntary or not ordered at all.

Explain how an emergency manager would implement this process.

An emergency manager would have to lean heavily on the Transportation Dept and its experts. Learning from of the past issues of evacuations would be key. Attention to detail on all area’s is vital to make sure the correct communication is sent out. The Thomas Fire in California last year for example a computer error communicated alerts going out to broadly scaring those who were not in the evacuation zones.

Create safety guidelines that should be issued through the media for guidance to first responders and citizens who are affected by the evacuation.

An evacuation for anyone would be a trying time especially those having to evacuate at the spur of the moment. To make things much easier I believe having guidelines in place where vehicle types are directed to lanes opposite the initiated contraflow lanes. Those vehicles would consist of any type of truck (trailer, tow, etc.) . For the guidelines to be understood Awareness of the local community should be a priority to the EM. So, when disaster strikes in the region there is less confusion.

4.

When an incident reaches the point that it’s unsafe for people to remain in the immediate area, getting everyone evacuated as safely and quickly as possible becomes crucial. There are several advantages to contraflow during an evacuation. This traffic pattern increases traffic flow in the opposing direction by utilizing most if not all lanes of a highway. It can both immediately and significantly increase the directional capacity of a roadway without the time or cost required to plan, design, and construct additional lanes. Freeways like, I-95 along the east coast are the most logical routes because they are the highest volume roads and are designed to facilitate high speed operation. Highways with intersections are impractical because they incorporate intersections that interrupt traffic flow. Additionally, contraflow improves travel safety. Evacuation traffic tends to be slower resulting in less accidents (Wolshon, 2017).

There are numerous disadvantages to contraflow patterns as well. One being that there is usually only one way out during an evacuation. It is important to ensure these routes are clear of opposing traffic before implementing contraflow operations so that large numbers of people can evacuate in safe and efficient manner. This type of evacuation may be confusing for some drivers who are unsure what to do or where to go. This confusion along with the lack of consistent roadway lighting, and a lack of typical highway signage (i.e., warning, and motorist information/guide signs) is why emergency officials believe evacuations during daylight hours would be most efficient. Additionally, evacuees may be stuck on these roads for long periods of time. If evacuees did not evacuate ahead of time, they could be trapped on these roads during hurricane conditions making evacuations more challenging (Wolshon, 2017).

In Florida, contraflow evacuations have been used mainly for hurricanes and wildfires and no other type of natural or manmade hazard. I think the reason for this is that these two hazards affect much greater geographic areas and tend to be slower moving relative to other hazards. Because of their scope they also create the need move larger numbers of people over greater distances than other types of hazards

An emergency managers role includes: Managing resources before, during, and after a major emergency or disaster; Identifying and analyzing the potential impacts of hazards that threaten the area and coordinating the planning process and working cooperatively with organizations and government agencies. (Perry and Lindell, 2007). Evacuations are generally the responsibility of law enforcement agencies and the Department of Transportation. They are the ones who design the plans and implement them. Emergency managers work alongside these agencies to ensure that operational needs are met, and emergency resources are available. It is a multiagency effort (FDOT, 2005).

The dissemination of essential information on roadway conditions and traffic flow is of importance during these times of natural disaster. Both prior to and following hurricane events, the public must be able to receive accurate and timely information so that they may evacuate from and return to affected areas safely and quickly. As I mentioned before, most travelers are unfamiliar with contraflow operations and how they function. Educating the public and increasing awareness of this evacuation procedure is vital.

Using hurricanes as an example, the media must assume that residents and visitors know little or nothing about contraflow operations, even though they may have had personal experience with evacuating for a hurricane in the past. Information concerning which highways will be affected by reverse lane operations, alternate routes, and the duration it will be instituted. Additionally, the media should disseminate shelter location information in case the public is still on the roadways with imminent storm approaching.

FDOT. (2005, June). Contraflow Plan for the Florida Intrastate Highway System. Retrieved from http://www.fdot.gov/traffic/Traf_Incident/pdf/0508…

 
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