Although a relatively new field, disaster management has developed and expanded through scientific inquiry and research. With increased emphasis on effective disaster management as a security imperative closely linked to human security, efforts to operationally define various terms have caught the attention of social scientists. Understanding the conceptual, academic and cognitive components of the terms used in the field of disaster management is not only necessary to adopt a human-based approach to prevention and mitigation, but also to enable governments to develop people-based strategies.
“Crisis” is one of those words or terms that we often use interchangeably with the word “disaster” from time to time. The world today is marked by instability due to the frequency of natural disasters such as tornadoes, bushfires, unprecedented floods, including the outbreak of diseases like Covid-19, which pose a challenge to governments and increase the likelihood of a crisis occurring. With the increasing frequency of crises and disasters, organizations must not only revamp existing systems, but also increase their ability to adapt and respond to crises for their survival and reputation. Since crisis management is the system that provides the organization with a coordinated response to crisis situations to strengthen the organization’s ability to continue its day-to-day business when the crisis is successfully managed.
While a disaster is related to the existence of danger, vulnerability and the likelihood that masses will fall victim to a man-made or natural disaster, a crisis situation is any event that can lead to a dangerous situation for an individual, a group of people, a community, an organization or an organization. the country as a whole. For example, a sudden job loss would be a crisis situation for a single person, while a total breakdown of the communication system during a disaster would be a crisis situation for a business or organization facing disasters. Major crises include energy crisis, refugee crisis, post-disaster epidemic among disaster victims, or security crisis, food crisis, water crisis are sensitive topics to deal with and attract much of the media attention. A crisis situation can happen anywhere, it’s a turning point and a dramatic situation that requires immediate decision-making, a flawless action plan and effective and persuasive communication. Since the time required to react to a crisis is short, it is essential that organizations have a research-based action plan, trained human resources and a plan to effectively disseminate the actions taken and future strategy to the masses. .
We need to understand that some crises have the potential to spread and if left unmanaged could spin out of control. With times of crisis marked by rumors and intentions to pressure authorities, facts are shady, justification is clouded by emotion, and communication is susceptible to misinterpretation by mass organizations under pressure to act. . Especially if the crises are economic in nature or affect the daily lives of a mass of people, there is a high likelihood of political exploitation with a likelihood of spreading to other communities in the country. Research indicates that if communication is one of the variables of problem solving and effective crisis management, organizations must adopt a multidimensional approach based on different knowledge needs as well as different knowledge strategies for different phases and nature. crisis (Wang & Belardo, 2009).
The literature also suggests that a multidimensional perspective on the conceptualization of the crisis management plan goes through the combination of three fundamental elements, including leadership, learning and knowledge management (Buhagiar, & Anand, 2021). While leadership provides support and motivation, the knowledge management component provides quick and calculated decision-making options based on research and lessons learned, in light of organizational memory.
The literature also points out that effective crisis management is the result of a stronger knowledge base, research and trained human resources within an organization. Since the tirade for successful crisis management includes leadership, knowledge management and learning, it is of utmost importance that organizations dealing with crisis and disaster management introduce a culture of research native, training manuals and a detailed database of nationwide expertise to be immediately engaged in times of crisis as we have discussed, we have a narrow window to resolve the crisis.
We need to realize that one of the factors seen as a major impediment to crisis preparedness is the denial and lack of a crisis culture on the part of management within our organizations and departments. Unfortunately, there are hardly any organizations in Pakistan, where we have a database to assess the potential risks of organizations, recognize the dangers, opportunities and strengths of the organization with active situational analysis to develop Predictive communication plans in the event of a crisis. Efforts to stimulate comparative international research in the field, learn from the experience of others, and share our own knowledge regionally and internationally are the only way forward for an effective image and with the world for a stronger image of the ‘organization.
What you have to understand is that the window to resolve a crisis situation is always very short, and a common question asked in crisis management courses is: “Bamboo is tall and can withstand strong winds without breaking. break, why? Answer, because it’s flexible; therefore, flexibility and research-based techniques for finding out-of-the-box solutions are a requirement of effective crisis management. Perhaps it is high time that in order to survive in a globalized world where performance depends on modern means of communication, education and knowledge base, we also adopt attitudes and behaviors that are proactive and ready to be prepared for the National level.
*Shazia Haris, APPCSS member and clinical psychologist