Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Disaster Response and Management: What do I Bring to the Table?

When it comes to disaster management, what skills, experiences or knowledge do I have to contribute?

For as long as I have wanted to take this course (which has been the better part of my master's degree), that question has haunted me.  The truth is that I have no real practical skills or experiences that I believe would be useful in a disaster situation.  All that I could bring to the table is some basic first aid and CPR training.  I have never experienced a disaster of any kind (natural, man-made or hybrid), so I have no idea how I would respond in such a situation.  Instead of reacting quickly, I might freeze, flee or have a complete emotional breakdown and be of absolutely no use to anyone. Even now, at the tail-end of my degree, I still feel that I would have very little to contribute to the aid efforts in such circumstances.  In fact, before beginning to read the study guide and recommended readings for this course, my idea of what constituted a disaster was crude and fairly inaccurate, encompassing only the natural disasters that I was aware of.  None of the other classes that I have taken throughout my education have specifically addressed the process of disaster management as such.  The management of communicable and chronic diseases have been the topic of several of my final assignments, but never disaster relief and recovery, which I believe would have some important differences.

My hope is that the completion of this course will provide me with at least a basic level of knowledge of disaster management.  In reality, I imagine that no amount of reading or classroom-based discussions can entirely prepare someone for dealing with a disaster scenario, but it is a start and one has to start somewhere.  For now at least, I do have one thing that I know for sure I bring to the table and that is my genuine eagerness to learn about disaster response and management.


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