Nigeria is ranked second highest in the rate of road accidents and other emergencies (Deaths, disabilities) among 193 countries of the world. The emergency situation in Nigeria has also been exacerbated by frequent and continuous attack by Boko Haram especially in the North eastern part of the country.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is the central government agency for emergency management in Nigeria. Its mission is to coordinate resources towards efficient and effective disaster prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response in Nigeria. It acts in the following areas: Coordination, Disaster Risk Reduction, search and rescue; policy and strategy; Geographic Information System, Advocacy, and education.
What is emergency management?
Emergency management is the discipline of dealing with and avoiding risks, particularly those that have catastrophic consequences for communities, regions, or entire countries. It is the dynamic process of preparing for, mitigating, responding to and recovering from an emergency. Planning, though critical, is not the only component. Training, conducting drills, testing equipment and coordinating activities with the community are other important functions. Effective emergency management relies on the integration of emergency plans at all levels of government and non-government, including individuals and community organizations.
What is an emergency?
An emergency is any unplanned event that can cause deaths or significant injuries to the public; or that can disrupt operations, cause physical or environmental damage, or threaten the financial standing of businesses and institutions. Obviously, numerous events can be “emergencies,” including:
- Hazardous materials incidents
- Floods or flash floods
- Winter storms
- Communications, public transportation, or electricity failures
- Radiological accidents
- Civil disturbances, terrorism, war
- Loss of key suppliers
The four stages of emergency management:
Mitigation is taking action now—before the next disaster—to reduce human and financial consequences later. It involves analyzing risk, reducing risk, and insuring against risk. Effective mitigation requires that we all understand local risks, address the hard choices, and invest in long-term community well-being. Mitigation is achieved through regulations, local ordinances, land use and building practices.
Preparedness is a continuous cycle of planning, managing, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, creating, monitoring, evaluating and improving activities to ensure effective coordination and the enhancement of capabilities of concerned organizations to prevent, protect against, respond to, recover from, create resources and mitigate the effects of natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.
Response includes the mobilization of the necessary emergency services and first responders. This is driven by the type and kind of emergency and is likely to include a first wave of core emergency services, such as firefighters, police and ambulance crews. They may be supported by a number of secondary emergency services. A well rehearsed emergency plan makes rescue and response more efficient.
The aim of recovery is to restore the affected area to its previous state. It differs from response in its focus; recovery efforts deal with issues and decisions that must be made after immediate needs are met. Recovery efforts are primarily concerned with actions that involve rebuilding destroyed property, re-employment, and the repair of essential infrastructure. Efforts should be made to “build back better,” with a goal to reduce risks inherent in the community and infrastructure.
Types Of Emergency Management Exercises
According to the World Health organization, all personnel with a role in the emergency plan or procedure should participate in these exercises. The exercise can also include a review of past cases, if any, for lessons learned. The following are types of emergency management exercises that you should familiarize yourself with, they include;
Seminars are one of the first types of emergency management exercises that we will discuss. With seminars, participants are generally taught the basic core foundation elements that make up the disaster preparedness plan of a business or organization. For most businesses, seminars take place in the form of new hire orientation or onboarding. These types of events do not always have a live instructor thanks to the advent of computer-based training modules. For a seminar to be successful, attendees should walk away with enough basic knowledge to be able to identify emergency exits. They should also understand what various alarm codes mean and other information that is relevant to the type of organization or business that is involved. These types of events are often casual and only require minimal amounts of time to prepare.
Workshops are another one of the types of emergency management exercises that we will discuss. With workshops, the main goal is to work together in a team atmosphere to establish new ideas, processes, and procedures. The most common way to conduct a workshop involves gathering all of the relevant department heads and other important officials. Once everyone is gathered, a question and answer session is conducted to establish an open dialogue. Using member input, deficiencies in the current emergency response plan are identified and new procedures are developed accordingly. The level of planning with workshops is significantly higher than that of seminars. It also requires much more time to be able to perform these types of events effectively.
- Tabletop Exercises
Tabletop exercises are another very common tactic that is used. This is especially true for emergency response groups like the Red Cross as well as groups like the National Guard. Similar to workshops, tabletop exercises tend to involve senior staff and appointed officials who play a key role in the development of new policies and procedures. Where the two emergency management exercises differ is that tabletop exercises seek to develop an effective solution using a predefined hypothetical scenario. The events are typically much more structured than workshops and tend to be used to test current policies and procedures. These types of exercises require copious amounts of time and can last anywhere from several hours to multiple days.
Somewhat similar to tabletop exercises, games are another one of the more effective types of emergency management exercises. Just like with tabletop exercises, games seek to test existing procedures and develop new solutions to hypothetical problems. Where they differ is that games are generally much more structured and have a relatively large set of rules to limit what can be done. With tabletop exercises, the discussions are often much less formal. Games are especially useful for testing member’s ingenuity and problem-solving skills. Games are a very common exercise method in high-security areas like nuclear power plants and manufacturing facilities. The reason for this is that games can be used to teach members what to do in the event backup systems fail and more.
Drills are one of the most common types of emergency management exercises that are operations-based. These types of exercises are common for businesses, schools, government buildings, and more. Fire drills are the most frequently used type of exercise in this particular category. With drills, the goal is to test the effectiveness of a given policy in a controlled and isolated environment. It has the benefit of providing instant feedback and requires minimum amounts of effort to prepare for. Though drills are mainly planned in advance, surprise drills can be used to provide even more effective feedback as well.
- Functional Exercises
With functional exercises, the primary goal is to learn how effective an organization is at responding to a disaster even in a given area. Where it differs from other emergency management exercise types is that it mainly focuses on the command structure for a given organization. For this reason, functional exercises are much more common in strategic environments like military organizations and certain key civic centers. They differ from drills in the sense that they often involve multiple functions at once and that they do not actually result in the deployment of any resources or personnel. Due to their nature, functional exercises are also commonly referred to as command post exercises.
- Full-scale Exercises
Out of all the types of emergency management exercises covered in our article, full-scale exercises are the most difficult to perform. These types of exercises are reserved for large-scale use by the military and other high-security sectors. With full-scale exercises, multiple agencies work together in a high-stress environment to respond to a simulated emergency or disaster event.
These exercises involve the actual mobilization of personnel and equipment to the simulated area to gauge their effectiveness and response times. Depending on the scenario being practiced, the time frame can vary substantially from days to weeks. The scenario itself is often fine-tuned and is fully scripted in advance to practice in a controlled manner. SEE: Download WHO Emergency Response Framework