Preparedness for Catastrophic Events
November 2008 – November 2010
A START research team assembled by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) conducted a series of inter-related research projects towards the goal of providing DHS with new insights regarding the state of planning for catastrophic events in communities around the United States and conclusions about how the quality of such planning might be measured and improved. Key findings and deliverables from this project included:
- A proposed metric for assessing community planning for catastrophic events;
- A proposed metric for assessing public warning systems in local communities;
- Sample messages and strategies for developing and delivering effective public warnings; and
- Recommendations to involve emergency preparedness coordinators, public information specialists, and/or health educators in local health departments in order to encourage citizen engagement in emergency planning.
Reports related to each of these findings are available from START.
This project was supported through a grant from the Office of Planning in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
This project built on and synthesized past research on effective planning and preparedness strategies and utilized data previously collected in the Nationwide Planning Review and by the National Association of County and City Health Officials to assess the current status and practice of catastrophic planning.
In addition original data were collected, compiled, and analyzed to advance empirical investigations of the practice and impact of public warning systems. Specifically, the research team engaged in the following:
- Interviews were conducted by Dr. Hamilton Bean with 70 police, fire, and emergency management officials in three jurisdictions (Los Angeles, New York, and the National Capital Region) to collect data on disaster plans, communication practices, and public warning systems in the three regions.
- A survey of 500 residents of a fire-affected area in Los Angeles County (CA) was conducted by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab to provide insights into residents’ reactions to evacuation orders during a deadly wildfire.