Hurricane Irene killed at least 40 people, cut off electricity to 4 million and caused about $7 billion in damage when it slammed into the East Coast this August. While these statistics are certainly staggering, the tragedy could have been much worse if not for the efforts of government and private agencies to prepare for the storm and act quickly when it struck.
One Company’s Response to Irene
As an example of the herculean disaster response efforts that many people and agencies went to, a medical monitoring company known as Rescue Alert received about 4000 additional alarms as a result of Irene on top of its average 16,000 medical alerts a week. During the disaster, the company put off many of its day-to-day operations such as sales on hold to respond to the needs of its subscribers.
The dispatchers at the Rescue Alert’s Response Center worked to assist every subscriber with an emergency while its sales representatives and customer service agents made outbound calls to its subscribers along the East Coast. In this way, the company was able to bring medical attention and help to people who might not have otherwise survived.
A particularly poignant example of the company’s service came when Rescue Alert located an elderly woman living in Maryland whose electricity had been lost for two days and whose only source of food left was a can of tuna fish. Rescue Alert was able to provide help by contacting The American Red Cross, 911, and even a local grocery store.
Of course, hurricanes are not the only form of natural disaster. In an effort to promote the safety and effective response of its agencies in both natural and other disasters The United States Department of Homeland Security created the National Incident Management System, which provides a systematic approach to guide agencies, departments, and organizations in their emergency-response efforts.
Its goal is to work seamlessly to prevent, protect, respond to and recover from natural disasters and other incidents. This system is designed as a framework to reduce loss of life, property and harm to the environment.
Many individuals and agencies are following this framework and doing all they can in the face of these situations to minimize negative consequences. While natural disasters like hurricanes are, at present, unavoidable the safety efforts on the part of government and non-government organizations is getting more sophisticated.