Communication During Disaster Response

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 20
Words: 5563
Reading time:
21 min
Study level: PhD


Organizations are equally susceptible to unpredictable situations that lead to a business crisis. Although such harm may be impossible to eliminate, there is a need for governments, companies, and individuals to be prepared. Where an emergency or disaster occurs, a need arises for a prompt response from emergency responders. This research investigates the role of effective communication among emergency responders in enhancing timely emergency response. The topic is founded on the claim that communication is a key pillar, which when properly incorporated in disaster management, can significantly reduce the number of fatality cases during emergencies. Emergency responders implement emergency response during disasters. The current research identifies the role of effective communication in emergency response as a major gap that many studies on disaster management have not addressed. While much has been studied about the role of communication for people who are affected by a disaster, the research proposes the need to extend the research to the contribution of effective communication among emergency responders in ensuring thorough emergency response during disasters. Using structured interviews with New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD), the current proposal finds that effective communication is central among emergency responders since it enhances their crisis response efforts.

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In the event of a disaster occurrence, the flow of information that is designed to create awareness on the repercussion of the catastrophe in the most effective manner is necessary to guarantee efficient response and recovery. Information management and the deployment of organizational continuity plans encompass some of the strategies for accomplishing this concern (Hiles, 2011). Apart from communication that focuses on the causes of disasters and the amount of harm suffered, the provision of optimal assistance, including hospitality arrangements, helps to guarantee continuity after a crisis by enhancing confidence that the situation of those affected by a disaster or an emergency will be restored. Hence, communication among emergency responders during disasters is critical since it determines the speed of response and the deployment of the right equipment and task force to manage the situation.

Communication in emergencies during disasters may imply the exchange of information among emergency responders or the flow of information to those affected by the emergency during the adversity. Hence, the question that this study seeks to examine is, ‘how does effective communication among emergency responders influence the emergency response during disasters?’ Crisis gives rise to uncertainties, which may create misconceptions about the status and capability of the responding entities or individuals. Effective communication plays the role of clearing such misconceptions through timely updating of information. Such comprehensible communication enables responders to act thoroughly and collaboratively towards alleviating further loss. In other words, when the emergency responders’ capacity to work in teams fails due to information breakdown or poor information flow concerning the location or status of the emergency and the need to change response tactics, the teams may probably fail to respond effectively to the emergency.

The primary focus of the current study is to discuss the impact of effective communication among emergency responders during disasters. The research is structured in five sections. The first section presents a review of literature on the contribution of effective communication among emergency responders, especially in terms of its role in enhancing their capacity to respond promptly to emergencies during disasters. The second section establishes the theory and hypothesis of the research paper while the third section discusses the research design, data collection, and analysis tools. The fourth section presents the discussion of the research findings. Finally, the conclusion section summarizes the main ideas of the study.

Literature Review

Emergencies and Disasters

The management of disasters and emergencies requires effective communication. In support of this claim, Paturas, Smith, Albanese, and Waite (2016) carry out a study that reveals how poor communication among organizations during disasters hinders crisis response efforts. Although the focus of the paper is on communication among emergency responders during disaster response, a harmonious definition of emergency and disaster is vital. Nevertheless, the available theory on disaster management lacks a unified definition of what amounts to an emergency or a disastrous condition. For example, Donahue and Joyce (2001) argue that disasters encompass harmful, natural, or fabricated emergencies that lead to far-reaching unconstructive financial and communal costs that the affected people have to bear. The definition suggests that emergencies and disasters are physical or natural acts, which destroy various socially constructed events. Despite the challenges encountered in the effort to describe succinctly the complex social and physical aspects, which are necessary while designing disaster preparedness apparatus to mitigate such aspects, it is crucial to develop scholarly agreement on what amounts to a disaster, including what crisis preparedness entails. Using Hurricane Katrina as a reference, Herbane (2013) reveals the degree of harm that SMEs encounter due to their lack of preparedness, which can be attributed to their poor embracement of communication. Regardless of the gaps witnessed when establishing a universal definition of a disaster or an emergency, various scholars in the field of disaster management concur that calamities have the potential of deterring the social and economic welfare of citizens (Sylves, 2007). Consequently, the government through its disaster management apparatus and/or in collaboration with private parties has the responsibility of curtailing the impacts of disasters. According to Lindell (2007), one major mechanism is through efficient communication among agents who respond to emergencies in times of disasters.

Dangers posed by disasters demand effective communication strategies from emergency management officials. However, much of the literature in the field of emergency and disaster management focuses more on disaster predictions and consequences. It does not dwell on emergencies. Lindell (2007) suggests that this limitation makes the subject of an emergency relative while ruling out the role of first responders during disasters. This gap may be attributed to the idea that focusing scholarly work more on emergency management may create a notion that people can deal proactively with all adverse and unprecedented occurrences collectively. In this sense, a study on emergency management is seen as both an oxymoron and misnomer if it does not mention the place of communication among emergency responders when it comes to boosting the response from the respective teams (McEntire, 2007).

According to Manandhar and McEntire (2014), emergency management efforts mainly focus on the reduction of hazards that are associated with disasters. However, such hazards have been changing as the history of experienced disasters evolves. In this line of argument, McEntire (2003) reveals how physicians and intellectuals primarily gave priority to the universal risk of a nuclear confrontation between America and Russia. Hence, all apparatus of emergency and disaster management paid much of their attention to emergency and disastrous conditions arising from nuclear missiles exchanges. When these challenges ceased to afflict different nations on the successful resolution of conflicts, new other forms of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina came up, indicating the need for emergency responders whose communication on the degree of the calamity was vital to emergency departments. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, the evacuation was not done promptly due to poor communication networks. Hence, those who were not evacuated were exposed to a major risk that could cost their lives. However, using personal boats, the personnel were able to rescue more than 17,000 people when the hurricane finally struck (New Orleans Fire Department, 2006). Moreover, the role of communication was evident in the incidents that included the Chernobyl catastrophe, the Three Miles Island calamity, and the Bhopal disaster. The recent Japanese nuclear reactor disaster also emphasized the need to communicate effectively to enhance the response to technological emergencies and disasters.

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Following the experience of natural disasters, including the Loma Prieta earthquakes, Northridge earthquake, Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Katrina, and Midwest flooding, the emergency and disaster management tools in different nations were reoriented to capture the place of emergency responders and the element of communication in lessening the disasters’ impacts on human life. Today, the ranges of emergency and disastrous conditions that are likely to face nations have increased to include civil emergencies, which are attributed to acts of terrorism (Holdeman, 2012).

Emergency and Disaster Management Theories

Various theories have been postulated to explain disasters and the concept of communication in emergency management. The theories include the broad perspectives put forward in social sciences to explain human behaviors (Evans & Drabek, 2004). In the context of emergency and disaster management, such theories are important, considering that acts of terrorism, technological, Japanese nuclear reactor, Chernobyl, and Bhopal disasters can be attributed to human behavior. Examples of the theories explaining some of the disasters attributed to human behaviors include social constructionist theory, which explains the development of intimidation from radicalized groups such as the Taliban (Jenkins, 2003), conservation resources model developed by Arata (2000) to predict the psychological implication of the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster, and the social vulnerability approach to disaster management (Enarson, 2003). These theories provide important insights into the emergency response personnel on the impacts of human behaviors, including communication, in lessening or worsening the situation during disasters. The theories indicate the existence of abundant frameworks and broad-based theoretical paradigm that links human behavior to emergencies and disasters. Secondly, they avail the basis from which “true” theories for disaster and emergencies management and response can be anchored.

Before the occurrence of an emergency and/or a disaster, spending in the apparatus of disaster management often attracts public eye scrutiny. Indeed, Donahue and Joyce (2001) argue that in such situations, a conflict ensues between the state and the public on the hazards that amount to emergencies and disasters, a situation that has hindered the allocation of public resources to develop preparedness, response mechanisms, and relief strategies. In the event of the occurrence of a natural emergency or disaster, many of the critics hardly turn around to pose a question on the necessity of government interventions and communication among emergency responders. Rather, Donahue and Joyce (2011) reveal how people have a propensity of freely regarding the emergency like a severe civil quandary that demands instantaneous measures from their respective countries. In the case of the United States, this governmental action is effected through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The underlying action is driven by the mandate given to the DHS to reduce incidents and magnitudes, and mitigate the threats associated with the occurrence of disasters and emergencies coupled with preparing for, responding to, and recovering from the impacts of the adversity (McEntire, 2004). Emphasizing the role of DHS, Kiltz (2012) introduces the idea of ‘homeland security enterprise’, which illustrates the agency’s call for the mutual involvement of countries and even individuals in detecting and addressing emergencies. In this context, emergency and disaster management tools operate as both instruments of surveillance and responding to calamities within a nation.

Despite the development of a well-organized apparatus for disaster and emergency management, disasters still prove inevitable. Does this claim suggest that all apparatus for disaster management are ineffective? Does it suggest other elements, for instance, effective communication or parties such as emergency responders who are not well incorporated into the disaster or emergency management? Emergencies and disasters present a requirement for making difficult decisions on service delivery systems for the affected people (Burns & Thomas, 2011). Therefore, the affected governments have to source aid from other nations or even volunteers to enhance the response to disasters. In the absence of a disaster, a government cannot place a diplomatic call for help, should an emergency or disaster occur in the future (McEntire, 2003). Hence, the internal emergency and disaster management apparatus only have resources that are adequate for the development of emergency and disaster preparedness strategies but not necessarily for relief, rescue, and recovery phases. Hence, important aspects such as the need to ensure effective communication may be overlooked. Resources may not be enough to ensure that communication from emergency responders reaches the wider audience effectively.

The central objective of emergency and disaster management is to moderate most pragmatically the extent to which the conditions of the affected communities have been interfered with by a disaster. Directly congruent with this assertion, Donahue and Joyce (2001) assert that countries and their calamity response agencies take various precautionary measures by forecasting the possible harm from a disaster and/or putting standby teams in place to manage any emergency in case it occurs. The nature of disasters hamper these noble concerns of disaster and emergency management arm of any disaster response entity, thus calling for additional strategies such as the inclusion of volunteers or communicating the emergency (its location and intensity) in various channels to enhance response.

Disasters destroy an extensive portion of the property of a given jurisdiction of a nation or state. They also impair the health of the population affected in magnitude and rates that are beyond the capacity of a government to avoid or avert. The repercussion here is that dealing with any catastrophes before or after their occurrence involves labor, paraphernalia, capital, and other material goods, which governments may not be able to offer (Donahue & Joyce, 2001). In such cases, communication networks and infrastructures between responders are also broken down. This challenge is amplified by the unpredictability and uncertainty of the magnitude of damages from disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Natural disasters are hard to predict, leave alone preventing. Hence, the only possible intervention is to evacuate people from disaster-prone areas. However, it is impossible to evacuate infrastructures such as houses, health care centers, water supply systems, roads, railway lines, and power supply lines, and others. Hence, no matter how emergency and disaster management apparatus may be able to predict and communicate the occurrence of natural disasters, it is impossible to escape the resulting implications of the disaster. Considering that communication among emergency and disaster responders depends on some of the established infrastructures, which cannot be evacuated, part of the inability to act quickly stems from infrastructural breakdown and hence the slow response on some disaster management apparatus in particular nations in the event of a catastrophe.

Although communication among emergency responders is critical to effective emergency response, the identification of disaster causation and mitigation measures amounts to success in the management of the actual problem. Donahue and Joyce (2001) agree with this assertion by adding that the fundamental link between dangers and catastrophic experiences is inadequately unstated and that it is almost impossible to predict the timing of any threats. Disasters do not happen regularly.

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In some situations, the political tenure of a given government may elapse without disasters being experienced. Donahue and Joyce (2001) further explain that this situation exposes countries to a dilemma concerning whether to apply the necessary measures or not. Besides, governments may not be certain concerning the time when such measures should be deployed to deal with any projected calamities. Furthermore, the testing of disaster policies does not meet the criteria of Mazmanian and Sabatier tests for a plan execution process because disasters constitute intractable challenges, which are impossible to address. Lindell (2007) amplifies this argument by asserting that calamity issues are a question of influential non-statutory elements, for instance, the extent of community backing, the prevailing managerial and headship expertise, and the current socio-economic state of affairs. It is crucial to note that such variables cannot operate coherently without clear and effective communication among all participants, including emergency responders, in disaster and crisis rejoinder.

Communication in Emergency Response during Disasters

Communication among emergency responders is critical during disasters. Communication is important in all contexts that seek to bring people together. Through communication, people exchange information on the necessary work processes and hindrances to performance (DellaVigna & Gentzko, 2010). Communication skills are one of the attributes that people must possess. Engaging in ardent communication ensures that one does not take for granted any idea from others. Communication helps in conveying information, feelings, perceptions, and reasoning or a combination of these aspects (Seiter & Gass, 2010). Hence, the need for quick response to emergencies among crisis responders raises the question of the implications of effective communication on successful emergency response. The impact of poor communication strategies is reflected in research conducted by McFarlin, Sweeney, and Cotton (2003) in which 197 management executives for almost 200 companies were surveyed to unveil their anticipations for the success of their communication strategies. The researchers found out that only 63 percent of all the surveyed executives anticipated their strategies to succeed. Considering that 37 percent of the surveyed executives were not sure whether their communication strategies would succeed, the researchers concluded that the projections and performance breakdown resulted from the unsuccessful implementation of the organization’s communications systems (McFarlin et al., 2003). Strategies are implemented through the collective effort of all people who must work to attain given goals and missions for which an entity is established to accomplish. In emergency responses during disasters, such goals and objectives must be communicated effectively among all emergency responders.

Effective communication should be made in all directions for the emergency responders to remain aware at all times about the requisite strategy to counter a given dynamic outcome of the disaster. Failure to communicate explicitly may lead to the escalation of emergencies to levels that may get out of control. There is the need to avoid such situations during emergency responses through proper communication. For communication to achieve its intended goal of enhancing effective emergency response during disasters, the hierarchical structures of the management of all participants in emergency response must embrace the best mode of responding to any message concerning a calamity (Barrett, 2006). Failure to achieve the desired goal during any emergency response to disasters may emanate from poor communication between responders and those who plan and/or issue response directions. This observation underlines the significance of considering the possession of intrapersonal and interpersonal communication skills as some of the important qualities that are necessary for ensuring effective emergency response during disasters.

During disaster response, communication links the rejoinder plans to enhance the success of the actual implementation process of the plans. Developing successful communication strategies leads to the restoration of normalcy after an emergency. Hence, ardent communication among all responders is critical (NORC, 2015). Poor communication often results in resistance to change, especially where the persons working in an emergency response consider the changes or strategies being implemented as threats to their wellbeing.

Emergency responders during catastrophes work under the direction of an emergency and disaster management leader. When such responders are given information to relay to the subordinate response staff, the accuracy of the relayed information is dependent on the precision of the information delivered to the communications personnel by the leader (Barrett, 2006). Hence, the sole responsibility of emergency response communication rests on the leader. Indeed, various leadership communication models pay incredible consideration to communication skills from the perspectives of strategic capacity and personal abilities (Barrett, 2006). Leaders who demonstrate excellent abilities to lead, direct, plan, and/or monitor and control portray exemplary abilities to communicate effectively. This observation has led to many leadership training and development programs to consider communication skills as the component that binds all other facets of effective leadership in any context, which brings people together, including emergency response during disasters.

Communication is important during, soon after the occurrence, and even later after disastrous situations. NORC (2015) informs that it helps to link together all affected families. Hence, it constitutes an important aspect of response coupled with the recuperation process. With effective communication, first responders develop the capability to support all affected households. Indeed, as NORC (2015) reveals, reliable and accessible communication are success factors to ensuring community resilience following an emergency during disasters. When Superstorm Sandy and Boston bombing occurred, social media platforms, especially Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram were deployed on a large scale in communicating to first responders, families, people providing relief, and those who were offering assistance to facilitate the recovery process.

While communication through social media emerged as an important factor in enhancing quick recovery from Superstorm Sandy and the Boston bombing, its utilization by responders to communicate with other teams has not received any scholarly attention. The gap also exists in other disasters, including Hurricane Katrina. Indeed, much of the theory on emergency and disaster responses dwells on recovery, relief, and rescue. This paper proposes research to fill the gap on the impact of effective communication among emergency responders on the emergency rejoinder during disasters. From the communication theory, the paper recognizes that communication is important in helping to keep people-oriented to a common goal, aim, and objective during disasters. Therefore, where emergency responders during disasters have communication problems, they may not execute their mandate, which includes effective disaster response and recovery.

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Theory and Hypothesis


In the context of the study, communication refers to the exchange of information through verbal or non-verbal techniques such as gestures, facial expressions, social media, or even cellular messages between emergency responders during disasters. Emergency responders refer to all people, including police, firefighters, health professionals, and rescuers who collaborate in emergency response following the occurrence of a disaster. Emergency response implies all efforts and activities that are aimed at offering immediate help to restore the situation and/or improve the health of the people affected by a disaster. The response also involves providing counseling to the affected. Disaster response is the second phase of response after emergency rejoinder. In the context of the current study, it refers to various aspects of responses when a disaster strikes, including evacuation, damage assessment, rescue, and the provision of services such as the rebuilding of infrastructure destroyed by the disaster.

Communication among emergency responders may be crucial in four main phases during disaster response, namely, deterrence, awareness, response, and recuperation (Medina, 2015). The first phase is the disasters preparedness phase (Medina, 2015). This phase entails all the activities that are designed to ensure that any damages and loss of life are minimized, should a disaster strike (Smith, 2006). These activities include evacuating individuals and material goods from a susceptible region and embarking on opportune and efficient salvaging, assistance, and psychotherapy processes (Hansen & Schramm, 2008). Through the utilization of disaster preparedness strategies, nations reduce the effects of a disaster through emergency responders.

In the second phase, when an emergency occurs following a disaster, relief efforts are implemented. This phase refers to the responses involving multi-agency coordination to enhance the mitigation of the effects of disasters coupled with their long-term results. Wimelius and Engberg (2015) investigate the role of coordination and collaboration in disaster management in Sweden. The authors reveal the prevailing frustration where poor communication has marred efforts for emergency responders to cooperate in the crisis management process (Wimelius & Engberg, 2015). Important relief chores conducted during disaster response include repairing the vital utility lines destroyed by a disaster, food provision to the affected communities, the evacuation or relocation of people in the effort to escape the ramifications of disasters, providing health care, providing temporary shelter until the emergency during a disaster has been completely managed, including the rescuing of the affected people.

Disaster recovery encompasses the third phase in disaster response in which communication among responders is incredibly important (Medina, 2015). Indeed, disaster recovery becomes important after all the emergency needs are taken care of upon the occurrence of a catastrophe. Although the initial crisis is brought to a halt, at this stage, the communities that were affected by the disaster are normally prone and vulnerable to the implications of the disaster. Disaster recovery efforts encompass activities such as the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the destroyed infrastructure. These efforts need to be combined with improvement agendas such as establishing a team of doctors to handle the wellbeing matters of the affected individuals. The efforts may also involve the making of strategies that may help to circumvent any projected analogous cases (Hansen & Schramm, 2008). To this extent, the success of such recovery efforts depends on effective communication among emergency responders during disasters. In the fourth phase, emergency responders must deploy mechanisms to ensure that people who are affected by a disaster are not exposed to similar disasters in the future (Medina, 2015). This plan calls for the development of strategies for disaster prevention. The strategies include tasks that are meant to avail lasting defense against calamities. However, it is important to note that not all disasters can be prevented from occurring in the future. Upon careful scrutiny of these four concepts of disaster management, it suffices to declare effective communication a central element among emergency responders when it comes to attaining effective emergency response during disasters.


A disaster preparedness phase requires high-class cooperation among emergency responders. Resources such as firefighters, volunteers, communication sound systems, transportation, and even medical personnel are allocated and distributed. These resources can only be coordinated efficiently with effective communication. Indeed, after a disaster occurs, conveying information while ensuring that panic is mitigated is incredibly important. Delays in the dissemination of information among emergency responders may magnify the problem due to the inadequacy of response coordination. Herbane (2013) concurs with this claim by confirming the role that planning, coordination, and communication play in enhancing the continued existence of businesses. Based on this argument, this study hypothesizes that

  1. H1: Effective communication among emergency responders will positively affect the emergency response during a disaster
  2. H2: Effective communication among emergency responders will negatively affect the emergency response during a disaster

Research Design and Data


The current study investigates the relationship between effective communication among emergency responders (independent variable) and emergency response during disasters (the dependent variable). Research methodology in this study will describe the processes through which it (study) will acquire data on the given topic. It will also show the tools used in the analysis of the results in addition to the mechanisms for interpreting the results. Research methods have diverse characteristics. The selection of an appropriate methodology depends on the available resources, objectives, and goals of the research. The selected methods need to fulfill certain requirements to arrive at valid results and recommendations that can lead to solutions to the problem under scrutiny. Scott (2011) identifies such characteristics as credibility, reliability, the deployment of rigorous methods and verification, clarity, and coherence.

Research can be designed as either qualitative or quantitative. It can also deploy mixed methods (pragmatic research design), or take the form of participatory or advocacy research design. The current research takes a pragmatic approach. The research will be conducted in New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD). The method includes survey interviews, which will be vital in interpreting the study. The interview will involve structured questions, which are known to be best for quantitative consultations since they do not need extra information from a respondent (Leedy & Ormrod, 2005). The research will use structured interviews, which will help in establishing a good rapport with the participants to win their cooperation. In addition, besides helping in clarifying any ambiguity in the answers, it provides information for follow-up. A reasonable sample of 65 respondents from the NOFD department will be selected to obtain reliable information.


At the beginning of the interview, the researcher will explain to the respondents the research purpose and its significance in emergency response during disasters. A respondent will be interviewed for a maximum of 10 minutes. The interview will begin by capturing a respondent’s demographic information such as educational background, age, and gender. Questions will also be administered to collect information on the respondents’ communication experiences with other responders during Hurricane Katrina’s disaster response. No control groups will be deployed. The analysis will be based on the differences and similarities of communication approaches deployed by diverse responders during the Hurricane Katrina disaster, including how the communication approaches contributed to the effectiveness of emergency responses during the disaster.


From the above review, it is evident that disasters cause immense human suffering by destroying crucial infrastructure, including housing. This claim was evidenced in the presented case of Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane caused immense devastation to the people of New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast. The disaster occurred amid high emphasis by the US government on the need to develop effective disaster preparedness strategies to counter the catastrophes whenever they finally strike. However, this situation does not imply that New Orleans emergency response systems failed or were ineffective. Rather, it points to an aspect, which the current research assumes to be ineffective communication that worsened the situation.

The hurricane rendered Gulf Coast roads impassable. It also destroyed communication networks. While government and private parties have a responsibility to ensure timely response and rapid recovery from disasters, Hurricane Katrina proved incredibly difficult to manage effectively. Indeed, effective management of disasters such as this one gives rise to challenges that are formidable to the governments’ emergency and disaster risk management apparatus. It offsets New Orleans’ ability to respond adequately to any catastrophe. Hence, a disaster has significant implications on the affected governments’ capability to respond to emergencies during disasters. In situations such as the case of Hurricane Katrina, a government may have to source aid from other nations. Therefore, it is arguable that the internal emergency and disaster management apparatus only have resources that are adequate for the development of emergency and disaster preparedness strategies, but not for relief, salvaging, and recuperation.

A well-communicated strategy for dealing with an emergency is necessary for any crisis response during disasters. When Hurricane Katrina occurred, not all people working for NOFD were evacuated from the Gulf Coast. The evacuation aimed to ensure their engagement in rescue missions after the hurricane struck. In its strategic plan to deal with the tornado in Orleans, NOFD identified practical intentions of the organization during and after the occurrence of the hurricane. Before the occurrence of the hurricane in 2005, the goal of NOFD was to ensure the full evacuation of people from all disastrous areas. Therefore, NOFD had already established risk preparedness strategies before the occurrence of the tornado. Nevertheless, effective management of the disaster proved difficult and full of flaws, owing to the poor communication among emergency responders.

When the hurricane occurred, the goal of the emergency responders was to rescue the affected people, including putting off possible fires that were fuming buildings to protect property and further loss of lives. The organization sought to achieve these goals through its workforce and the interventions of various response tools. The evacuation was successful since its implementation took place before the hurricane struck. However, when the hurricane occurred, it influenced enormously the recovery and rescue plans. Having caused destruction, the government together with Orleans administration had the responsibility of putting in place rescue services to reduce the extent of suffering. However, communication challenges among responders were still evident. Poor communication presented major challenges in the execution of an effective emergency response strategy. Hence, it was evident that effective communication could have played an important role in ensuring efficiency in emergency response during the disaster. This case can be generalized to conclude that effective communication may be vital in determining the success of emergency responders in times of disaster.

All researches have different limitations. One of the major limitations of the current research stems from the research methodology. The effectiveness of qualitative research requires the demonstration of various features of excellence. Qualitative research has some drawbacks such as the lack of validity since it is important to add rigor, subjectivity, and creativity in a scientific process.

The current research determines the contribution of communication among emergency responders during disasters. In realizing the objective of the research, quantitative data is vital. However, the current research mainly deploys qualitative data. Fact that the data is based on emergency response concerning one case of disaster response (Hurricane Katrina), the generalization of findings is not possible. However, through the case, the research has the merit of paving way for an in-depth investigation of the role of communication in emergency response during disasters that NOFD can deploy to help overcome communication challenges experienced during Hurricane Katrina.


Following the occurrence of Hurricane Katrina, as water levels continued to rise, NOFD service people got into action to save the lives of the affected individuals in an environment that lacked proper communication networks. NOFD lost vital equipment, including fire stations, communication paraphernalia, and vehicles among other facilities that are required for ardent emergency response. However, with the aid of firefighters based in Louisiana, Illinois, New York, and other places, response to Hurricane Katrina was possible. These challenges had implications on the capacity of emergency responders to communicate effectively the situation on the ground. Poor communication may be associated with the delays and challenges witnessed during the emergency response.

The paper proposed research that extracts data from NOFD participants in emergency response during Hurricane Katrina. The data will be analyzed while putting into consideration the fact that natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina destroy communication infrastructure that can be deployed by emergency responders to carry out rescue operations. On such large-scale failure, other alternative channels such as personal communication among emergency responders may help to augment the deficiencies in communication arising from the failure of installed communication infrastructure. Hence, the research seeks to extract data through structured interviews on how emergency responders during Hurricane Katrina communicated in the entire emergency response phase. It unveils whether the communication approaches deployed had any effect on the effectiveness of emergency response during the disaster. The findings of the research are critical for future approaches that NOFD may choose to deploy in responding to and managing any emergency.


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