USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development

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Volume 16, No. 1 (March 1998)

    Special Issue


    Sandra Sutphen and William L. Waugh, Jr.

    Guest Editors

    Editors’ Introduction

      Sandra Sutphen and William L. Waugh, Jr., "Organizational Reform and Technological Innovation in Emergency Management," pp. 7-12.

        As the new millennium approaches, important and fundamental changes are taking place in the profession and practice of emergency management. Not least of these changes are organizational reforms to correct past deficiencies and build capacity for future action while incorporating new applications of technology to reduce environmental risks and manage disaster responses and recovery efforts more effectively. These changes in emergency management are being driven by variety of factors, not least of which are political pressures to reduce the role of government in society and the normal process of institutionalization as the function of emergency management is recognized as important and integrated into structures of government. Decentralization of policy-making and program administration may also reflect an ideological shift that emphasizes local autonomy regardless of capacities. Perhaps more importantly, emergency management is becoming a major political and administrative concern for public officials at all levels. The articles in the symposium offer broad evidence of the organizational and technological changes taking place in the practice of emergency management. [Edited from the authors' introduction to the special issue.]

    Articles by:

      Richard T. Sylves, "How the Exxon Valdez Disaster Changed America’s Oil Spill Emergency Management," pp. 136-43.

        The March 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill into Prince William Sound, Alaska, profoundly changed America's oil spill emergency preparedness by compelling enactment of the Oil Pollution Act (OPA) of 1990 and inducing the oil industry to create the Maritime Spill Response Organization. The study discerns both improvements and remaining flaws in U.S. oil spill emergency preparedness since the Exxon Valdez disaster. Many organizations engaged in oil spill prevention and accident response have improved emergency planning, inspections, accident training and drills, clean-up equipment availability and deployment, and safety programs. Key federal and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations, oil companies, and co-operative spill response groups have made many of these changes. Problems regarding spill liability, availability of rapid-response oil clean-up contractors, disputed environmental clean-up methods, slow conversion to double-hulled oil tankers, disputes over when officials should seek oil spill presidential disaster decorations, single vessel ownership dummy companies, and variable state oil shipping rules will continue to cause complications and vulnerabilities. (AA)

      Delores N. Kory, "Coordinating Intergovernmental Policies on Emergency Management in a Multi-Centered Metropolis," pp. 45-54.

        In the intervening years since Hurricane Andrew in August 1992, there have been studies by federal agencies and the Academy of Public Administration, changes in Florida statutes, assessments of the affected counties, a strengthened directive of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in training activities, and legislative and executive orders to link the levels of government. The emerging problem is how to effect cooperation in a multi-centered county with multiple municipalities, more communities seeking incorporation, and only unincorporated areas under direct county control. The problem is not for the threat of hurricanes alone. It is for the many potential disasters, natural and man-made, which may be addressed with incident command systems at the local level, but may also need mechanisms to coordinate county, regional, state, or national responses. The counties in southeast Florida are a true megalopolis, and officials are slowly recognizing that intergovernmental cooperation is imperative. This article examines the issue and provides data on local support for regional efforts in southeast Florida. (AA)

      Eve Gruntfest and Marc Weber, "Internet and Emergency Management: Prospects for the Future," pp. 55-72.

        This article reports on the growing value of Internet resources for the emergency management profession. The analysis has six components: (1) a brief history of the field prior to the introduction of the Internet; (2) an overview of the changes in emergency management since the introduction of the Internet and a summary of the characteristics of Internet communications; (3) some descriptions of how the Internet is currently used in flood, earthquake, and volcano research; (4) examples of Internet use as a tool for education; (5) federal and state employment of the Internet in emergency management during disasters and for public education and awareness between disasters; and (6) conclusions and suggestions for future research. (AA)

      Louis Comfort, Ali Tekin, Ernesto Pretto, Bulent Kirimli, Derek Anges, and others, "Time, Knowledge, and Action: The Effects of Trauma Upon Community Capacity for Action," pp. 73-91.

        This article explores the relationship between time, knowledge, and action under the urgent conditions of disaster. We inquire into the conditions under which a community is able to give timely response to a catastrophic event. Such events require interorganizational communication, coordination, and a shared knowledge base to support action. We report findings from an international, interdisciplinary study of medical response following the March 13, 1992, earthquake in Erzincan, Turkey. Data are presented from a survey of representative organizational actors who were engaged in disaster response operations and lay persons who observed the response. In the case of Ezrincan, the effect of trauma, communicated across multiple ties of family, friendship, and business in the community, had a disabling effect on the community's capacity to respond to the urgent needs of its citizens. Further, national efforts dependent upon knowledge of the community were inhibited by local trauma. We conclude that national capacity for timely, effective response to disaster depends upon the initial condition of training, communications, and infrastructure that are in place at the community level prior to the disaster. (AA)

    Book Reviews by:

      Claire B. Rubin on James K. Mitchell (ed.), The Long Road to Recovery, pp. 93-94.

      Charles E. Marske on Ulrich Beck, Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity, pp. 95-96.

      Alfred Z. Keller on Dennis Parker and John Handmer (eds.), Hazard Management and Emergency Planning: Perspectives on Britain, pp. 97-98.

      E. L. Quarantelli on NHK Broadcasting, The Great Hanshin Earthquake and Broadcasting, pp. 99-100.

      Wolf R. Dombrowsky on Thomas E. Drabek, Disaster Evacuation Behavior: Tourists and Other Transients, pp. 101-102.

      Joseph W. Coates on Neil R. Britton and John Oliver (eds.), Catastrophe Insurance for Tomorrow: Planning for Future Adversity, pp. 103-105.

      James M. Dahlhamer on Holly Strand, Perestroika’s Effects on Natural Disaster Response in the Soviet Union, 1985-90, pp. 107-108.

    Plus a Book Note by:

      Robert A. Stallings on Roger L. Wettenhall, Bushfire Disaster: An Australian Community in Crisis, p. 109.

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