Five phases of emergency
Emergency response has five stages: prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Prevention refers to actions taken to avoid an incident, such as deterrence operations and surveillance. The second phase of emergency management is mitigation, which entails taking steps to prevent or reduce the likelihood of an emergency or its consequences. Among the measures are the establishment of building codes and zoning requirements, the installation of shutters, and the construction of barriers such as levees. The third phase is preparedness, which includes activities that increase a community’s ability to respond in the event of a disaster (e.g., disaster training and drills, education campaigns). Response is the fourth phase, in which actions are taken immediately before, during, and after a hazard impact. Priority is given to saving lives, minimizing economic losses, and alleviating suffering. The fifth and final phase is recovery, which involves taking steps to return a community to normal or near-normal conditions, such as restoring basic services and repairing physical, social, and economic damage (City of St. Louis, 2022).
The COVID 19 pandemic triggered the emergency response in 2020. COVID 19 was a novel variant of the coronavirus, and epidemiologists and public health officials had to work quickly to conduct surveillance on people who became ill in order to identify symptoms and put preventative measures in place for the public to prevent virus transmission. COVID 19 was identified as an airborne virus, and community members were educated on how to avoid contracting and spreading the virus, including the signs/symptoms of infection. Getting vaccinated, obtaining and wearing N95 masks, wearing eyewear, washing and sanitizing hands with soap or rubbing alcohol, and maintaining social distance were all part of the prevention and preparedness efforts.
During the mitigation phase, as the number of COVID cases increased and the death toll grew, local government officials imposed flight restrictions, lockdowns, and curfews to prevent further cases of transmission. To prevent the spread of COVID 19, contact tracing and mandatory quarantine of infected individuals were also implemented. Once a vaccine was available to prevent severe illness from the virus, healthcare workers and community members were encouraged to get vaccinated. Efforts were made to gain access to ventilators to manage critically ill patients and personal protective equipment (PPE) which were in dire shortage to protect the spread of infection from patients to healthcare workers who were caring for the ill. Testing sites were open throughout the community to conduct free COVID 19 screenings.
In the response phase numerous research studies were being conducted by pharmaceutical companies to develop vaccines and boosters that prevent or reduce the effects of COVID 19 and its variants. Studies were also being conducted on medications and treatments that best alleviate suffering and prevent severe illness and death in infected people. The medical and healthcare community is working to understand symptoms associated with COVID long haul and the long-term health effects of individuals who have been infected with the virus. Emergency and healthcare professionals provided direct care of infected individuals. Free COVID tests were made available to residents.
In the recovery phase, efforts have been made by the federal, state, and local government to assist individuals in rebuilding the economy that was severely devastated by lockdowns and closures due to illness workers. COVID 19 financial assistance payments were made to residents who were unemployed; businesses were able to secure federal loans to reestablish businesses that lost significant revenue due to lockdown and closures. During lockdown individuals could not work and the government implemented policies to extend freezes on mortgage payments, prevented landlords from evicting tenants, and freeze student loan repayments.