First responder agencies send paid and volunteer members to people in need. When a house is on fire, firefighters rush to the scene to “put the wet stuff on the red stuff.” When someone is injured, ambulances deliver basic and advanced life support to save lives, mend wounds on the scene, and sometimes “load and go” for more critical needs. When a violent crime occurs, police officers serve and protect the community and apprehend the suspect. Despite the numerous agencies tasked with responding during times of need, the needs sometimes surpass the available capabilities of these agencies. Everyone has a job to do to prevent, mitigate, and respond to emergencies and disasters. 

All disasters are local, but no two disasters are the same. Therefore, it is critical for response agencies to continually review lessons learned and best practices while also considering emerging technologies and new approaches to recurring scenarios. For example, it is essential to understand the operational differences between rural, urban, and suburban environments through lessons learned in firefighting. In law enforcement, researching practices such as elaborated social identity modeling can help officers make better decisions and mitigate potential threats in crowd scenarios. In emergency management, considering emergency managers as project managers opens the door to finding best practices that may have previously been overlooked.   

Education and training for all stakeholders, not just those designated as first responders, will make communities more resilient when response resources are limited. By empowering citizens with basic life and safety resources, agencies and organizations will better leverage volunteers (affiliated and spontaneous) during critical times. In addition, when response agencies are delayed, bystanders would know what to do until they arrive (e.g., bleeding control). 

This May edition of the Domestic Preparedness Journal provides valuable information for emergency response organizations to consider when fortifying their efforts and engaging other community stakeholders. As the National Stop the Bleed® Month ends, it is a good reminder that each community member can help respond to an emergency or disaster. Many people are willing to help but just need the education, training, and guidance that emergency preparedness and response entities can offer.  

Catherine L. Feinman

Catherine L. Feinman, M.A., joined Domestic Preparedness in January 2010. She has more than 35 years of publishing experience and currently serves as editor of the Domestic Preparedness Journal, DomesticPreparedness.com, and The Weekly Brief. She works with writers and other contributors to build and create new content that is relevant to the emergency preparedness, response, and recovery communities. She received a bachelor’s degree in International Business from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree in Emergency and Disaster Management from American Military University.

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