Coordination and Control in Emergency Response

TitleCoordination and Control in Emergency Response
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsJohn Flach, Debra Steele-Johnson, Valerie Shalin, Glenn Hamilton
EditorAdedeji Badiru, LeeAnn Racz
Book TitleHandbook of Emergency Response: A Human Factors and Systems Engineering Approach
ChapterCoordination and Control in Emergency Response
Pagination 433-548
PublisherCRC Press
CityBoca Raton
ISSN Number9781466514560

On the afternoon of Sunday, September 14, 2008, the remnants from the Gulf Coast'’s Hurricane Ike moved through Ohio. Although not as devastating as a tornado, hurricane force winds caused substantial storm damage and extensive loss of power. The high winds cut electrical service to more than half of the local power company's one-half million regional customers. The company's website initially indicated that service restoration would be a multi-day effort.” However, full restoration was not reported until 2 weeks after the initial storm, on September 29, 2008. The result was that significant stress was placed on the regional medical emergency response resources. For example, 1100 new patients reported to local emergency departments in the first week of the power outage, and some ambulances were diverted from the nearest emergency rooms due to overflowing capacity. In this chapter, we share lessons learned from extensive interviews with a wide range of participants in this emergency event. We summarize our observations in the context of theoretical work on the dynamics of “complex adaptive organizations.” Our goals are to explicate theories of complex adaptive organizations by grounding them in the concrete events associated with this particular emergency situation. We also provide some practical suggestions that might be useful in preparing for future emergency situations.

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