Disaster Preparation – Help Gets in the Way

Planning for Disaster Help Gets in the Way

Ambience: Sirens
When a natural disaster strikes, one of the problems that relief agencies run into are people who want to help! I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Zobel:If you are already in the community and you are helping your neighbors recover and helping yourself recover, that’s one thing, but if you’re outside the community, in general it’s not necessarily a good idea to try to go in yourself to help out with the disaster recovery activities.

Chris Zobel is a Professor of Business Information Technology at Virginia Tech. He helps municipalities and relief organizations to plan for disasters.

Zobel: There’s so much uncertainty with a disaster and it’s so difficult to coordinate between the professional organizations that are trying their best to save people’s lives and rebuild; that if you bring in a lot of people who don’t understand the chain of command, they don’t really understand what the most important steps to take next are; they don’t have clearly defined capabilities that fit into the puzzle; then they can actually cause problems because they take the attention of the people who are actively engaged in the recovery. They take their attention away from what they need to do. And so, it’s better not to descend upon a disaster to help.

Zobel: There’s other ways to help. One possibility is that you could get in touch with your local Red Cross or with your local emergency manager and let them know that you would be willing to be someone who could help out in a situation. And then, very often, there should be training that you could go through so that when you do come, you’re not coming completely cold. You understand the needs of what needs to be provided, and you’re already integrated into that network in an effective way.

I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Disaster Preparation - Help Gets in the Way

When a natural disaster strikes, one of the problems that relief agencies run into are people who want to help!
Air Date:03/16/2015
Scientist:
Transcript:

Planning for Disaster Help Gets in the Way

Ambience: Sirens
When a natural disaster strikes, one of the problems that relief agencies run into are people who want to help! I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Zobel:If you are already in the community and you are helping your neighbors recover and helping yourself recover, that's one thing, but if you're outside the community, in general it's not necessarily a good idea to try to go in yourself to help out with the disaster recovery activities.

Chris Zobel is a Professor of Business Information Technology at Virginia Tech. He helps municipalities and relief organizations to plan for disasters.

Zobel: There's so much uncertainty with a disaster and it's so difficult to coordinate between the professional organizations that are trying their best to save people's lives and rebuild; that if you bring in a lot of people who don't understand the chain of command, they don't really understand what the most important steps to take next are; they don't have clearly defined capabilities that fit into the puzzle; then they can actually cause problems because they take the attention of the people who are actively engaged in the recovery. They take their attention away from what they need to do. And so, it's better not to descend upon a disaster to help.

Zobel: There's other ways to help. One possibility is that you could get in touch with your local Red Cross or with your local emergency manager and let them know that you would be willing to be someone who could help out in a situation. And then, very often, there should be training that you could go through so that when you do come, you're not coming completely cold. You understand the needs of what needs to be provided, and you're already integrated into that network in an effective way.

I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.