Effective Response to Large-Scale Disasters: The Need for High-reliability Preparedness Networks

November 2006 (VOL. 24, NO. 3)

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A continuing preparedness challenge concerns leading, managing, and coordinating multi-agency disaster prevention and response efforts. Effective disaster prevention and response requires a network of preparedness agencies and organizations that functions as a single, high-reliability organization (HRO). High-reliability organizations have been studied extensively; however, the lessons learned in managing HROs have not been systematically applied to the management and operations of multi-agency and private sector organization networks required to respond to large-scale disasters. This paper develops and recommends a leadership and management model for creating and leading high-reliability preparedness networks (HRPNs). The paper demonstrates that the HRPN is key to effectively preparing for and responding to rapid onset disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and mass casualty terrorist events as well as evolving disasters such as infectious disease outbreaks, famines, drought, insect infestations, social system failure, and economic depression.