Predicting Disaster Response Effectiveness

March 2005 (VOL. 23, NO. 1)

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What social factors best predict the relative effectiveness of community disaster responses? This question is explored through interview and questionnaire data obtained from 62 local emergency managers whose communities were impacted by some type of disaster event. Various coordination strategies used in the year prior to the event and during the response were assessed first. These and numerous other potential sources of constraint were used in regression analyses to determine predictors of response effectiveness (both as perceived by the local emergency manager and through ten evaluative criteria). Results indicated that both measures of response effectiveness were predicted by seven factors: 1) high level of domain consensus; 2) use of more coordination strategies by the local emergency manager during the response; 3) more lengthy period of forewarning; 4) more frequent disaster training activities and actual responses during the prior two years; 5) more frequent participation by local emergency manager in local service organizations; 6) high community growth rate; and 7) use of more managerial strategies by the local emergency manager during the prior year.