HOW TO IMPROVE EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS ON A LOCAL LEVEL? A THEORETICAL MODEL AND EMPIRICAL ILLUSTRATION

A. Altshuler, Faculty of Health Sciences, BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV, Beer-
Sheva, Israel

Abstract

The modern reality is unfortunately characterized by a growing number of disasters. They can gravely damage a community’s social fabric, aggravate psychological well-being of citizens, aid workers and their families, and even cause death. A scientific research is of great potential to develop knowledge and effective practices in front of these complicated social challenges. The current study was a modest effort in a continuous process of development of theoretical models and valid empirical tools in disaster research.

This research proposed a novel comprehensive analytical framework. In empirical terms it concentrated on examination of emergency preparedness of Jewish and Arab local authorities throughout Israel, and the factors which may predict its level.

A structured questionnaire constructed specifically for the study, included 74 items, divided into 9 sub-questionnaires. The questionnaires were distributed in May-July 2008 among 177 local authorities’ chief emergency managers all over Israel, using a random sampling technique. The response rate was 80.8% (143 out of 177). Results indicate that the regression model was of relatively high predictive capability (adjusted R square of 49.3%). The following factors predicted significantly the preparedness level of the local authorities: joint activity of local emergency managers with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, socio-economic situation in a local community, collective efficacy and the city’s previous war exposure. However, risk perception, population size, ethnic composition of a local community and financial resources weren’t found significant in the framework of the comprehensive model. The identification of the factors which contribute to the preparedness level and the validation of the measurement instruments has important theoretical and practical implications. Three of the five significant factors (joint activity of local emergency managers with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, and collective efficacy) are related to cooperation and coordination. In terms of both public policy and research insights, it highlights the importance of networks and effective involvement of multiple stakeholders from various societal sectors for a high level of emergency preparedness.

The abstract is based on my MA thesis from the University of Haifa under supervision of Prof. Yael Yishai and Prof. Faisal Azaiza

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