Benefits of Providing the Families of Responding Personnel with Care during Disasters

Benefits of Providing the Families of Responding Personnel with Care during Disasters

Prospectus

Linda Gonzalez

Prospectus: Benefits of Providing the Families of Responding Personnel with Care during Disasters

Background

Research indicates that during hurricane Katrina, first responders whose families were affected experienced stress and anxiety due to playing the role of the first responder and the role of a victim. A gap therefore exists in the need for the relocation of first responder families to safer places to prevent negative impact on the evacuation efforts of the first responders due to anxiety and depression. The topic for my dissertation is benefitting from bringing first responders families and making place for them at a safe location (Trochim & Land, 1982).  Families of first responders are critical during evacuation and emergency response efforts because they may face various complexities and may also deter the first responder from effectively responding to emergency work due to development of anxiety. In this regard, the problem statement is the families of first responders may not have resources at their disposal to facilitate safe movement while the first responder who may be the head of the family participates in emergency activities. Therefore, it is essential for the emergency managers to prioritize the safety of the families of first responders to prevent harm and injury.

Problem Statement

Families of first responders are critical during evacuation and emergency response efforts because they may face various problems related to safety and well-being. The safety concerns of families may also deter the first responders from effectively responding to emergency work due to development of anxiety. In addition, the families of first responders may not have resources at their disposal to facilitate relocation to areas of safety while the first responder, who may be the head of the family, participates in emergency activities. To this end, it is vital for the emergency managers to prioritize the safety of the families of first responders to prevent issues that may cause setbacks to disaster response activities. Research on critical aspects of first responders and their families has been slow, although the rescue workers are at the forefront of evacuation efforts, which leaves them susceptible to depression or anxiety while on the job (Larsson, Berglund & Ohlsson, 2016). First responders may also develop post-traumatic stress disorders. Besides, many organizations do not strategically plan for the well-being of their employee’s families.

Although a lot of literature focuses on emergency planning and management and the role of first responders, the safety of first responder families has received negligible attention. In this respect, the considerations of the safety of first responders on the scene should also involve considerations for the safety of their families. Form the gaps existing in literature about the benefits of relocation of families of first responders to safety and the implication on the effectiveness of first responders in evacuation activities, this research identifies the need for the creation of a comprehensive first responder family support initiative for relocation to safer areas with the aim to promote the effectiveness of disaster mitigation activities. Plans should cover all various types of natural disaster events and emergency events such as fires and accidents.

Purpose

The purpose of this research is to explore the benefits of relocation of first responder families to areas of safety during disaster and emergency response activities. Additionally, this research seeks to identify information gaps critical and beneficial about the safety of first responder families which can be used to guide policy and administrative activities of emergency planners with regards to families of first responders (Trochim & Land, 1982). This type of information is valuable to policy development and in the administrative activities of emergency planners with regards to families of first responders. The rationale for this position is the concerns of first responders during rescue operations are usually broad because the health and safety of their families is of first priority. The concerns of first responders during rescue operations are usually broad because the health and safety of their families and communities are of first priority

Significance

This study will contribute to the filling of the gap existing in literature about the need to bring families of first responders to areas of safety by demonstrating that it is essential for emergency and disaster management policy development and planners to prioritize the safety of first responder families through incorporation of strategies to evacuate these families to areas of safety to prevent desertion of duties by first responders or the development of stress and anxiety, which hampers evacuation efforts. If the safety of first responders is neglected and first responders fail to efficiently execute their duties, the implication would be increased mortality, inefficient supply of relief medical supplies or food, and ineffective cleaning of disaster scenes.

With regards to positive social change, integrated family support plans for first responder families will advance the practice of emergency management during disaster events. The value proposition for this family support plan is increased effectiveness during evacuation efforts. Research on the need for relocation of first responder families to safety will identify the existing knowledge on safety of first responder families and seek existing gaps from this knowledge and ways of utilization of this knowledge in policy formulation and emergency management. Prior and planned evacuation of first responder families to areas of safety is focal to the emotional health of first responder families.

Background

Families of first responders are critical during evacuation and emergency response efforts because they may face various complexities that may also deter the first responder from effectively responding to emergency work due to development of anxiety. In this regard, the families of first responders may not have resources at their disposal to facilitate safe movement while the first responder who may be the head of the family participates in emergency activities. Therefore, it is essential for the emergency managers to prioritize the safety of the families of first responders to prevent harm and injury.

Rabjon (2013) argues that research on critical aspects of first responders has lagged behind, although the rescue workers are always at the forefront of evacuation efforts, which leaves them and their families vulnerable to stress while on the job or to the development of post-traumatic stress disorders. Besides, first responders may develop anxiety over the safety of their families, which may hinder the evacuation efforts, especially if the first responder families are also victims of a disaster. In another study, Smith 2013 illustrates that it is well acknowledged that first responders may face the difficulty of separation of the emotions that arise out of their jobs from personal life issues. For instance, a first responder who has a family with young children may develop immense emotional reactions when attending to children who are victims in a disaster (Smith, 2013). The author further states that first responders and their families are inadequately prepared to tackle the problems that arise out of disaster events such as relocation to safer places, an aspect that further aggravates the safety situation for first responders and their families. Research conducted by Larsson, Berglund, and Ohlsson (2016) indicates that during hurricane Katrina, first responders whose families were affected experienced stress and anxiety due to playing the role of the first responder and the role of a victim.

Theoretical Framework

The Theoretical framework upon which this research will be based is Peter Singer’s Theory of Utilitarianism. The theorist premised this theory on the concept of having more of the good things exist in the world, and having less of the bad things in the world. Based on this premise, this research will seek to promote more of the good in the relocation of first responder families to areas of safety. The theorist further states that the outcome of a right or wrong decision is uniquely based on the act of choosing one action or policy in place of an alternative and should be in consideration of the interests of other individuals. In this regard, the action of choosing to bring families of first responders should be for the interest of others such as those affected by disasters. Moreover, the gaps in information on safety of families of first responders during disaster events will be used to guide policy development, which aligns with this theory of utilitarianism to make the right or wrong choice with regards to safety of these families. This theory is applicable to this research because it will guide the inquiry of the benefit of bringing the families of first responders to safe areas. In regard of the study design, the interviews and focus groups will be ideal for his study because these two methodologies allow a researcher to obtain deep and insightful personal experiences of participants.

From the purpose of the study, the research questions that will be used to guide this research are:

· How will bringing the families of first responders to areas of safety during disaster and emergency evacuations result in increased efficiency of evacuation activities?

· What is the impact of the failure to incorporate first responder families in disaster preparedness and emergency planning activities?

From these research questions, the most suitable designs for this research are interviews and focus groups that will allow the researcher to collect experiences and perspectives of first responders and their families.

Qualitative

This research study is a qualitative study the narrative enquiry which will utilize the interviews and focus groups as the explorative instruments throughout the research. The rationale for the selection of the qualitative methodology to answer the research questions is qualitative research offers an ideal platform to answer the ‘how’ and ‘what’ type of questions, which will be used to guide this research (Rudestam & Newton, 2015). Furthermore, narrative inquiries are best used in helping the researcher to understand the experiences of the participants offered through a reflexive process. Through narrative inquiries, it will be easier to understand the rich accounts of experiences, which will be facilitated by the interaction between the researcher and the participants. This approach aligns with the problem statement in that first responders, who will be part of the research participants will offer their experience of relocation to safety or lack of relocation to safety and how this aspect impacted on the evacuation activities. The research participants will narrate the accounts of these experiences which will be the basis for the need for the relocation of first responder families to areas of safety.

Possible Types and Sources of Data

· Interviews with practitioners and their families

· Information from FEMA.gov

· Focus groups with practitioners and or their families.

Possible Analytical strategies

The most appropriate data analysis for this research is thematic data coding. Data coding will be for the purposes of data transformation into computer aided analysis. It will also help to draw out the meaning out of the respondent’s experiences. In this case, codes will be assigned to words or phrases which capture the summative, salient, or essence-capturing attributes of given portions of data. The data will be coded in a first cycle coding process and a second cycle coding process. To begin with, the data will be coded by the identification of emergent themes in the text from interview transcripts and data from the focus groups. The identified text or passages is characterized by a common theme or ideas, which allows the researcher to index the text or passages. The aim of identifying these thematic patterns is to search for meaning from a given data set in order to answer the research question. The codes indexed to these texts or passages can be in the form of numbers or symbols, which ascribe meaning to the text. From these codes, a researcher then develops more conceptual categories which are words or phrases that describe a group of codes. The categories are then grouped into themes which offer a broad, descriptive, and overarching concept or idea that is used to answer the research question.

References

Larsson, G., Berglund, A. K., & Ohlsson, A. (2016). Daily hassles, their antecedents and outcomes among professional first responders: A systematic literature review. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology57(4), 359-367. doi:10.1111/sjop.12303

Rabjohn, A. (2013). The human cost of being a ‘first responder’. Journal of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning6(3), 268-271.

Rudestam, K. E., & Newton, R. R. (2015). Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive guide to content and process (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. ISBN: 978-1-4522-6097-6

Smith, J. (2013). When responders become disaster victims: Protecting the humanity of first responders. PA Times36(3), 7.


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