Emergencies caused by tsunamis, acts of terrorism, pandemic diseases, and hurricanes are just some of the real threats that every nation prepare for with earnest interest and vigor. It is true that these can never be predicted. Some people may feel that it is impossible to prepare for something you can never hope to predict when to happen.

Hurricane SandyFor many, they believe it is the government’s duty to give emergency preparedness and response the highest priority because these constitute the most effective ways to deal with all sorts of disasters when they happen.

The ability to contain the effects of large-scale emergencies at one time is a true litmus test on the emergency preparedness of a nation and the speed at which the services can be delivered define the efficiency of the government’s ability to respond to the arising needs. I would argue the U.S. governments failure in emergency preparedness was evident in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and more recently Hurricane Sandy.

In the U.S., among those involved in the emergency preparedness and response efforts of the government include: Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through its Medical Countermeasures Initiative (MCI) and National Incident Management System (NIMS); Centers for Disease Control (CDC) through the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through its EPA Emergencies; Health and Human Services Public Health Emergency; U.S. Department of Agriculture Emergency Preparedness and Response; Department of Homeland Security; and Counterterrorism-related Legislation.

No one knows the kind of emergencies that may happen and the kind of needs that may arise from it but a government is duty-bound to protect the lives and the property of its citizens first and foremost. This is reflected in the nature of the agencies and offices that are involved in the management of disasters and the arising damages and crises. Hence, the basic elements of a disaster preparedness team emanate from those that deliver services and handle arising concerns on food, health, security, and logistics. Each component performs regular functions in line with their purpose of existence as a government agency but maintains special units that focus on preparing for emergencies.

For instance, CDC works round the clock with state as well as local health units to safeguard and save lives against health threats. It plays a crucial role in responding to infectious incidents that can endanger public health. It is also tasked to lead preparedness and response efforts on providing strategic direction, coordination and support across all its allied health groups anywhere within U.S. and international partners. In the wake following the incident, CDC also assists in the building and rebuilding of public health capabilities through funds and technical support. CDC works with other health-related entities in protecting and saving lives such as American Red Cross. Together, they do not only deliver health services but assist states and communities in their state-wide as well as local efforts to put in place their own emergency preparedness framework and systems related to public health.

FDA is one of the most important agencies that is not only a part of the emergency preparedness of the nation, it is also equipped to protect the security of the nation against many odds and enemies through its Medical Countermeasures Initiative. FDA is concerned about its role in emergency and crisis management. It also plays an important role in securing the homeland through counterterrorism and emerging threats. This is accomplished by ensuring that there will be enough medicines and vaccines against possible bioterrorism aggressions. FDA is also active in pushing and lobbying for related legislation.

The U.S. Department of agriculture plays a salient role in ensuring that disasters will not affect food production and is thus ready with assistance programs. Droughts, hurricanes, pests on crops and animals, wildland fires and oil spills are just some of the disasters that are dreaded. Assistance may come in the form of financial, technical and information in order that farmers, ranchers and the likes can get back on their feet in the aftermath of disasters.

It is true that disasters can never be foreseen or foretold which is why a government must have efficient emergency preparedness and response machinery that is oiled all the time. Many unexpected events can happen; September 11, 2001 is a constant reminder that anything can happen even to the most powerful nation in the world.

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