1. Challenges for emergency responder safety and health
i. Coordination among groups involved in the response. Proper coordination of emergency rescue from disasters ensures that help extended is tailored to meet the needs of those affected. It entails choreographing an action plan that guarantees safe evacuation of disaster victims and safety of the emergency response personnel (Angle, 2016). The emergency response personnel are expected to have the requisite personal protective equipment and that equipment commensurate with the type of incident to be addressed. Poor coordination of emergency response endangers the health and safety of the response team (Fischer & Gellersen, 2009) (Stokke, 2016)and those in need of assistance.
The first emergency response team to arrive at a disaster of the emergency site has to endeavor at ensuring information and plans already initiated are shared with support teams that arrive later (Melander-Wikman, Fältholm, & Gard, 2008). Such efforts ensure machine-like precision in operations. Team leaders of the various teams should coordinate information sharing activities as enshrined in the Emergency Action plan (EAP) (LaTourrette, Peterson, & Bartis, 2003). Some organizations including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) laid out procedures that need to be adhered to in case of emergencies. These protocols give leadership on; Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response; Fire Brigades; Permit-Required Confined Spaces (Stokke, 2016). Possibly a meeting should be held to review each role to be played by the teams as well as the course of action in cases of catastrophic disasters.
Challenges likely incurred in proper coordination between various emergency units include lack of proper equipment for emergency mitigation (Angle, 2016), subordination of efforts made by a lesser body that arrived at the emergency scene by more robust emergency response groups (Melander-Wikman, Fältholm, & Gard, 2008) i.e. in case the military takes over an accident scene, they lock out other agencies citing ‘National security concerns.
ii. Timely response to information: emergency response providers are unable to respond to calls of emergency due to poor communication infrastructure and poor logistical support. They are ill-equipped to undertake some emergency procedures without help from other departments. In cases of disaster or potentiation of a safety hazard, the time between the reportage and the response determines whether the disaster can be quelled satisfactorily (Angle, 2016)or not i.e. fire incidents, etc. Upon reception of the notification of a situation that requires Emergency personnel intervention, deliberate action has to be taken at ensuring immediate response.
Emergency teams should be on high alert and well prepared with the necessary equipment and logistical support. Departmental heads and officers in charge of transport, logistics, and evacuation should ensure availability of locomotives and air supports for rapid response (LaTourrette, Peterson, & Bartis, 2003) are in proper working condition. Communication channels should be functional to ensure constant communication between those in need and the emergency response providers. This is particularly important in pointing the emergency crew in the right direction during endeavors to reach the emergency scene and victims.
iii. Effective information technology support: inadequate technological applications relevant at ensuring quick transmission and relaying of information back and forth from the field to the information desk and back hamper emergency efforts. Integrated Mobile phone applications joined to personnel desktops via software (Melander-Wikman, Fältholm, & Gard, 2008) are in current use for sharing information with relevant response institutions. These systems also store past information, which helps in easy access and retrieval. The tool also allows for involved parties to gather and distribute information on a functional and need basis. It would also determine the necessary gear, equipment, and expertise an emergency service provider is supposed to have. Information technology liaisons should be on standby to remedy any technicalities that could arise in the communication hardware and accompanying software.
2. Future Technologies on Emergency Responder Safety and Health
They help in the quick recovery of emergency victims due to shorter durations at the emergency site by the responders hence protects them against aftershocks associated with the recurrence of a disaster such as volcanic eruptions, fire incidents, earthquakes, etc.
New technologies have made it possible for early prediction and early warning systems of disasters. This has been invaluable because it reduces the severity of harm to the populace as well as reduces the risk the emergency responders have to undergo in cases the disaster occurred.
New technology ensures heightened protection against exposure i.e. protection against infectious agents, radiation, fires through the invention of highly tensile and resistant personal protection equipment. These form the first barrier in protecting the response personnel against exposure
These technologies when fully implemented will ensure the swarming emergency response personnel at a disaster scene are in constant communication to reduced mishaps and reinforcement of best response in cases of disaster.
Geographic Information Systems
These would guarantee the emergency responder with information about the scope of the disaster, the precise number of those directly affected, and the precise location of occurrence of the disaster. This mapping system helps decision-makers in planning the course of action during disaster mitigation.
Intelligent Street Lamps
This class of lamps are equipped with sensors capable of detecting environmental hazards including lethal gas levels, temperature increase, strong winds, etc. They are also mounted with cameras, which are monitored for any arising situations that may call for interventions. They also come with concealed speakers that facilitate communication with citizens.
Parties interested in the annual safety and health report
The relevant health and safety regulators
The public to affirm compliance and milestones made
Potential investors and safety enthusiasts
Other strategic partners including emergency safety and health providers
International organizations dealing with matters
Angle, J. S. (2016). Occupational safety and health in the emergency services (Vol. 4). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.
Fischer, C., & Gellersen, H. (2009). Location and Navigation support for emergency responders: A survey. IEEE Pervasive Coputing.
LaTourrette, T., Peterson , D. J., & Bartis, J. T. (2003). Protecting Emergency Responders (Vol. 2). Santa Monica, California: RAND Corporation.
Melander-Wikman , A., Fältholm, Y., & Gard, G. (2008). Safety vs. privacy: Elderly persons ‘ experiences of a mobile safety alarm (Vol. 16). Health Soc Care Community .
Stokke, R. (2016). The Personal Emergency Response System as a Technology Innovation in Primary Health Care Services: An Integrative Review. (N. U. Centre for Care Research, Ed.) Journal of Medical Internet Research , 18 (7), 189.