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Capabilities for preparedness and response

Capacity building via training and exercising is an intrinsic part of emergency and disaster preparedness.

Too often we have seen the development of new procedures or the implementation of new equipment without an assessment of the capabilities needed to deploy them effectively, nor an effective training program and opportunities to practice in context, prior to an incident. (Alexander 2015)

Examples of a range of emergency or disaster management capabilities:

Regulatory and legislative A role setting out the authority and legal basis for emergency and disaster management likely to describe responsibilities and powers of government and responsible agencies. Also includes health and safety and environment regulation that place demands on those who manage risks and respond in emergencies.
Strategic Establishing emergency and disaster management structures. Hierarchical structure of the organisations or departments responsible for emergency and disaster management, specifying roles and responsibilities and relationships between aligned organisations. Likely to also specify key job roles within the structure.
Operational Operate structures such as incident command systems and standard operating procedures.
Facilities Managing facilities such as operations centres training facilities and specialist equipment for emergency response.
Implementation Ability to implement programs focusing on prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. A program may consist of a series of projects and interventions such as flood risk reduction through the construction of engineered assets, flood emergency plans, public awareness and preparedness campaigns etc.

In order to ensure disaster management systems and processes work effectively, there must be a culture of capacity and capability assessment, training and exercising, in order to ensure we learn from past events and strive to develop the most effective and flexible approaches to emergency and disaster management (Marsh 2014). This culture might itself be deemed a determining factor of capacity.

At an individual level each person needs to recognise the benefits of training and exercising for themselves and the organisation, and have a mindset and aspiration for personal development.

In the wider environment there must also be a social and political expectation of effective disaster response. To support this, there must be strategies, policies and or legislation at a strategic level that encourages, facilitates and even demands a holistic approach to training and exercising.

Your task

Can you think of examples of training needs that may be required to ensure that emergency and disaster management capabilities are maintained?


Alexander, D. (2015) Disaster and Emergency Planning for Preparedness, Response, and Recovery [online] available from http://naturalhazardscience.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199389407.001.0001/acrefore-9780199389407-e-12 29 [October 2018]

Marsh, T. (2014) Total Safety Culture. Manchester, UK: RyderMarsh.

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This article is from the free online course:

Emergency and Disaster Training and Exercising: An Introduction

Coventry University