A comparative analysis of state emergency plans: improving response to vulnerable populations
Bennett, DeeDee Marie
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As of 2007, according to the Census Bureau, there were more than 37 million people over the age of 65 and 38.22 million people with disabilities (5 years and older). In 2008, the National Response Framework (NRF) replaced the National Response Plan (NRP). One of the criticisms that lead to this change in policy is that during Hurricane Katrina, response to a number of vulnerable populations was not effective as should have been. This thesis addresses the concern for vulnerable populations in regards to planning and preparing for emergencies by assessing their inclusion in the state emergency plans of FEMA Region IV. Vulnerable populations is defined (in this paper) as individuals living with a disability, individuals 65 years or older and individuals with combination of the two. This research is based upon the assumption that there is a need for emergency management at all levels of government for all residents. In order to assess the inclusion of specific vulnerable populations in state emergency plans this thesis will look at the policy change made in the national plans. Using a content analysis, comparative analysis of national plans and an overall analysis of FEMA Region IV States, a standard of measurement is identified and significant influences affecting state emergency management are found. The Region IV states being compared are Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. The claim is that the inclusiveness of state emergency plans in regards to response to vulnerable populations does not match that of the NRF. This research also suggests there are issues with the guiding documents for state emergency plans. The findings of this analysis can lead to a number of future research endeavors related to how states improve emergency preparedness and response.