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Volume 20, No. 3 (November 2002)


Special Issue


Benigno E. Aguirre
Guest Editor

Andrew Coghlan and T. Joseph Scanlon
Associate Guest Editors


Benigno E. Aguirre, "Introduction, " pp. 289-292.

The recently completed meetings of the International Research Committee on Disasters (IRCD) in Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia, coinciding with the activities of the committee during the meetings of the International Sociological Association (ISA), are without doubt the most successful meetings in the history of the committee. Their success can be traced to the superb organizational work of Andrew Coghlan and Joe Scanlon, the extraordinary hospitality and good will of Emergency Management Australia (EMA) and the EMA Institute, and the general intellectual cordiality and openness of the participants. The participants were from many walks of life, from private practice, national emergency management and international agencies, and from universities and research centers on various continents. Each in her or his way contributed to the luster of the proceedings. This special issue of the IJMED reflects the intent of the workshop, a sharing of Australian and other research, and occurs in conjunction with a parallel special issue of the Australian Journal of Emergency Management now under preparation. It is not meant to be all inclusive of the scholarship present during the meetings, for the papers underwent peer reviews and some of the initial presentations could not be rewritten by their authors in time for their inclusion in this special issue; others have been accepted for publication elsewhere. There is a varying degree of thematic continuity among the five articles that make up this special issue, captured by three underlying themes. The first two articles, by Gabriel and by Buckle and his associates, explore disaster management issues in Australia and the innovations that are taking place in Australian thinking about disasters, in what constitutes an enviable perspective if compared to other countries’ efforts to mitigate disaster losses. A third article, by Handmer, also uses material from Australia to examine with exceeding rigor and discernment the complexities of disaster loss estimation practices. The final two articles, by Norman and Cole and by Scanlon, explore, respectively, emergency management issues in England and Wales and in Canada in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Articles by:

Paul Gabriel, "The Development of Municipal Emergency Management Planning in Victoria, Australia," pp. 293-307.

In Australia, local government plays an essential role in emergency management, although not a provider of emergency services. The role of supporting emergency services and the community both during and after emergencies has been a traditional role. Added to this is an increasing responsibility as the focal point for the conduct of local mitigation using risk analysis, prioritization, and treatment under the methodology of emergency risk management. This role is part of a shift in the emphasis of emergency management in Australia away from the strong focus on emergencies and the emergency services, towards an emphasis on the sustainability of the community and its life in the context of the risk of loss posed by natural and other hazards. Models of municipal emergency risk management planning are presented to assist municipalities to connect or even integrate their emergency management planning processes with other similar community safety activities such as crime and injury prevention. (AA)

Philip Buckle, Graham L. Marsh, and Sydney Smale, "Reframing Risk, Hazards, Disasters, and Daily Life: A Report of Research into Local Appreciation of Risks and Threats," pp. 309-324.

This paper introduces a series of research projects in which we have been engaged examining a number of issues related to contemporary disaster management since 1999. These research projects, supported by our own agencies and Emergency Management Australia, have at their core an examination of the concepts of community, localness, risk, hazard, vulnerability and resilience and everyday life.

John Handmer, "The Chimera of Precision: Inherent Uncertainties in Disaster Loss Assessment," pp. 325-346.

Loss assessments are undertaken to support decisions about disaster mitigation. There is considerable pressure to use economic principles and to make such assessments a condition of funding for all mitigation. A fundamental underlying assumption is that loss assessments are accurate and comparable-and that this accuracy makes comparisons more valid. Unfortunately, it appears that this is not the case. A key question concerns whether loss assessments can be made accurate and comparable through improved knowledge and training-as implied by many critics of the approach-or whether the problems are inherent in the idea of loss assessment. Drawing primarily on Australian flood loss assessment work, these issues are examined. Results suggest that the uncertainties may be larger than generally acknowledged, that at least some are irreducible, and that comparisons may not be assisted by improved accuracy. The implication is that loss assessment methods should aim to make comparisons valid and reliable rather than chase unachievable precision. (AA)

Sarah Norman and Eve Coles, "Order Out of Chaos? A Critical Review of the Role of Central, Regional, and Local Government in Emergency Planning in London," pp. 347-367.

This paper will focus on the recent development of emergency planning in the U.K., the current situation following the latest review and how the structures that exist between the Greater London Boroughs and Central Government have reacted in responding to an event of equal magnitude to 9/11.

T. Joseph Scanlon, "Helping the Other Victims of September 11: Gander Uses Multiple EOCs to Deal With 38 Diverted Flights," pp. 369-398.

On September 11, 2001, after seeing three hijacked jets turned into missiles and a fourth crash in Pennsylvania, the United States ordered all U.S.-registered aircraft to land at the nearest airport and closed its airspace. When the decision was made, hundreds of commercial flights were over the Pacific or Atlantic en route to North America. Some had sufficient fuel to turn back. Most needed a North American airport to take them and that airport had to be in Canada. The Canadian government, its air traffic control system and Canadian airports were presented with a fait accompli. They had to accept hundreds of aircraft knowing-given what happened-that one or more of them might be carrying terrorists or be under terrorist control. Worried about the possibility that some of those jets might attack major Canadian cities, the federal government ordered that these jets land at smaller communities along Canada’s East Coast. Two Canadian cities-Halifax and Vancouver-received the most diverted flights on September 11. But when Gander’s population-10,347-is considered its intake was proportionally far greater. Gander took in 38 flights and 6,600 passengers, a 63 per cent increase in its population, compared to a two per cent increase in Halifax, less than a third of a one per cent increase for Vancouver. This article is about how Gander handled that situation. As will be shown, the community activated a number of emergency operations centers (EOCs)-and each ended up managing one aspect of the response. Though the airport was the key, the result was a coordinated system that ran smoothly without any single agency taking charge. This article describes how that system came about, why it worked, and how Gander avoided problems that often occur with multiple EOCs and emergent groups.

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