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Considering culture in evacuation planning and consequence management

Wayne P. Bergeron, MS, DSc

Abstract


Because culture profoundly affects human behavior, it is important that emergency management decision makers from both government and the private sector who will be involved in the management of evacuation operations build cultural considerations into their planning, preparations, education, and training from the very beginning. Preparation in this regard ensures that when the crisis hits, the response efforts undertaken will at a minimum not disregard culture or make situations worse because of a lack of cultural understanding and optimally will use the consideration of culture to frame the most effective response possible to ultimately save lives and relieve suffering. Whether it is recognizing that in some cultures the decision to comply with evacuation advice and orders will be made by a matriarch or patriarch of the family, or that the ability of an entire extended family unit to remain together in the evacuation process will be the key to compliance, culture may be the pivotal factor in a successful outcome. It is these (and many more) small cultural considerations and an overall understanding of the effect that culture has on behavior that can enhance the overall effectiveness of a culturally aware organization involved in the management of evacuation operations and emergency response. Hopefully, this initial work begins a deeper discussion and evaluation of cultural aspects both concerning the populations and cultures impacted by events, but just as importantly, the cultures and cultural understanding of the responding organizations.


Keywords


cultural considerations, evacuation planning, consequence management

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jem.2015.0222

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