The Whole-Community Approach to Disaster Incident Management

Barton Dunant
6 min readJun 30, 2021
J.G. Posada. Calavera Bicyclists. Broadside. Late 19th Century.

Emergency Managers need to approach the diversity of their constituents — the people impacted by disasters — as part of their overall approach to not only the Recovery phase of an incident, but also the Preparedness (Protection and Prevention), Response and Mitigation phases. The diversity of community members can be a global resource, as well as one that requires society to focus its disaster resiliency efforts in support of those with disparities and fragility for their own healthcare, education, financial stability, and access to technology (World Economic Forum, 2021).

A Whole-Community Approach

The best way to accomplish this is to take a Whole-Community Approach — and move community disaster resiliency from segregation to inclusion, and then to integration. Integration is much harder — it takes a change in the mindset of both the individual impacted and the organization supporting them (Bricker, 1995). The Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) has a graphic which best represents the differences between segregation, integration, and inclusion:

Gender and racial segregation in disaster response was systemic for many years. Disability and Access/Functional Needs segregation was not addressed federally until 2012. This will always be a work in progress.

While the AMLE has a focus of middle school student, including those with disabilities; their concept of growing a culture of inclusion is applicable to the diversity of communities impacted by disasters. The AMLE promotes the further concept of the Unified movement — one where all of the stakeholders benefit and are satisfied with the structure (Howlett & Cedergren, n.d.).

This applies to both the organizations supporting disaster and those who receive that support. Private-Public Partnerships between government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including such groups as AARP; as well as faith-based organizations. For example, those groups which are organized through the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) can enhance disaster resiliency across all of the disaster cycle phases, especially in Recovery.

Six Recovery Support Functions

Barton Dunant

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