Disaster Consciousness and Preparedness Planning
Reynaldo O. Joson, MD, MHA, MHPEd, MS Surg
June 26, 2012
July is National Disaster Consciousness Month in the Philippines by virtue of an Executive Order No. 137, dated August 10, 1999. The objective of such a declaration is to increase the awareness and preparedness of every Filipino to the threats of disaster. Traditionally, however, the scope of disaster consciousness activities conducted by both governmental and non-governmental agencies during this month has been limited to natural calamities such as typhoons, fire, earthquake, and tsunami.
The concept of disaster can go beyond natural calamities and for the sake of comprehensiveness, the scope of the national disaster consciousness activities in the month of July should be expanded.
Although generally classified as natural and non-natural, a disaster can be generically stated as any event that overwhelms the person or a group of persons facing it. The overwhelming can be in terms of psychosocial impact, destruction of property, injuries to or diseases of human beings, and scarcity of resources.
Thus, every July of each year, as part of the annual disaster consciousness activities, I recommend that every person, every head of a family, and every administrator of an institution, review the concept of disaster and refine whatever disaster preparedness plan or program that has been formulated (or to formulate one if they have not done it yet).
Before formulating a disaster preparedness plan or program, one must first identify (and prioritize) the more common or more probable disaster that a person, a family, and an institution will encounter based on the circumstances and locations they are in. The following classification can be used as a guide in the identification of types of disasters prior to a preparedness plan formulation:
Natural disasters – earthquake, typhoons, volcanic eruptions, etc.
Man-made disasters such as terrorism
Non-man-made disasters such as diseases
Also, disasters can be identified based on what are the common concerns in a person, in a family, and in an institutional setting. Examples, death and disability are common disaster concerns to a person and in a family. Fires, floods and earthquakes are common disaster concerns to a family and an institution.
Disaster preparedness plans can be classified into personal, family, and institutional or they can be classified based on the types of disasters.
In a disaster preparedness plan, the following elements should be included: prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Policies and procedures are developed for each type of disaster. A practical list is seen below.
Disasters to a Person
Preservation of asset / valuables
Disasters in a Family
Death of member / members of the family
Disability of member / members of the family
Preservation of asset / valuables of the family
Disasters in a Hospital
Surge of patients or sudden influx of patients
Sudden cardiopulmonary arrests
Preservation of asset / valuables of the hospital
Remember – a disaster can strike anytime and without warning. So always be prepared! Avoid it as much as possible. If not preventable, know how to respond, control, and recover effectively and efficiently. Avoid death and disability as much as possible on yourself, your family, and other people. Minimize destruction to property and loss of asset and valuables. Bounce back as soon as possible after a disaster.
For more writings of ROJoson on disasters: