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MSEM 6300 Week 1:Overview of History of Emergency Management

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MSEM 6300 Week 1:Overview of the History of Emergency Management in the United States essay assignment

MSEM 6300: Disaster Response and Recovery | Week 1 essay assignment

Does the following sound familiar?

A tropical disturbance in the Gulf Coast intensifies into a hurricane and makes landfall in Louisiana. The hurricane brings a storm surge of more than 10 feet to the city of New Orleans, producing extreme flooding. When several of the city’s levees fail, the flooding exacerbates. To make matters worse, pumping systems fail and 90% of the city’s electrical power is lost.

You might initially think this is a description of Hurricane Katrina. The above, however, is a description of Hurricane Betsy, which struck New Orleans in 1965. There are many similarities between Katrina and Betsy, yet to what extent were the lessons learned from Betsy integrated into response and recovery for future incidents? Is society doomed to make the same mistakes repeatedly, or are there methods for using lessons from past incidents to improve contemporary response and recovery strategies?

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This week, you examine the history of emergency management in the United States and consider how events have shaped current emergency management policies. Then you reflect on why officials and emergency managers may not integrate important lessons from past incidents and fail to incorporate them into emergency response plans.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze emergency management responses to disasters
  • Apply lessons learned from past disasters

When people think of mega-disasters, they often think of Hurricane Katrina. It is important to understand, however, that Hurricane Katrina was not the only mega-disaster to strike the United States. In 1906, a devastating earthquake that spawned an outbreak of fires struck San Francisco. The loss of life and devastation caused by the earthquake and fires was comparable to that of Hurricane Katrina.

Both natural disasters (e.g., hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes) and human-caused disasters (e.g., terrorist attacks, shootings, or intentional chemical/biological agent release) present immense challenges for integrating lessons learned into effective implementation of emergency management standards.

Policy makers reacted to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake in a manner similar to the way policy makers reacted to Hurricane Katrina—they learned which response and recovery methods worked and which did not work. Ideally, this is how emergency management evolves over time as each generation responds to new hazards and disasters.

For this Discussion, review the media and Learning Resources for this week. Select a natural or human-caused disaster to use for this Discussion and do some research on this disaster. Do not select Hurricane Katrina as your disaster. Think about historical lessons learned from it. Consider how these lessons learned, if they were integrated into current emergency management policy decisions, apply to contemporary emergency management.

MSEM 6300 Week 1:Overview of the History of Emergency Management in the United States essay assignment

By Day 4

Post a brief description of the disaster you selected. Next, explain some of the lessons learned from that disaster. Finally, explain how these lessons were or could have been integrated into emergency management policy decisions.

Be sure to use the Learning Resources and current literature to support your response.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

By Day 6

Respond to at least one colleague who selected a different type of disaster. Propose other lessons that might have been learned or other ways that lessons learned could have been integrated into emergency management policy decisions. Be specific and use examples.

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