Abstract: Most hospitals have a contingency plan, based on all-risks and all-hazards assessment principles. However, emerging threats and risks often necessitate a flexible approach to emergency management at several levels of a disaster response system, for example, in hospitals. Sweden, and possibly other countries, has limited possibilities of surge capacity in the management of large-scale disasters and emergencies, which necessitates a local/national partnership and a flexible local disaster and contingency plan. This study evaluates the opinions of a selected managerial group, both at operative and strategic levels, regarding possible changes in a major hospital’s contingency plan during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Semistructured interviews were conducted to explore the elements of surge capacity and an operational tool, consisting of command and control, safety, communication, assessment, triage, treatment, and transport. The results show a need to create feasible management methods that can be evaluated, establish clear leadership, put preparedness as a constant point on the highest managerial agenda, improve external monitoring, and create a regional coordinating center. Furthermore, the results emphasize the significant role played by the incident command system and qualified leadership to facilitate competent and crucial medical decision making, as well as to provide reliable communication, collaboration, and coordination in a multi-agency response system during dynamic and unexpected emergencies. These steps enable a constant connection between reactive contingency plans and the proactivity in continuous risk assessment and enhance the flexibility of the contingency plans.
Abstract: Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) guides responses of corporations in crises. We tested how COVID-19 related crisis communication strategies affect trust in mayors and the acceptance of behavioral measures. A total of 561 participants (53% female) with a mean age of 50 years took part in an online experiment in which we systematically manipulated the mayor’s crisis communication strategy (deny crisis, diminish role in crisis, rebuild relationship after taking responsibility, bolster reputation, no response) and pre-crisis reputation (good past crisis management, bad past crisis management). Age, gender, and education served as covariates. We also tested the predictive power of personal concern regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as internal and external control convictions. In our preregistered analysis, we found that crisis communication strategies had no significant effect on participants’ ratings of behavioral measures, but they affected participants’ trust in the mayor. The deny crisis strategy resulted in the most unfavorable ratings, while the effects of the other strategies were moderated by the mayor’s pre-crisis reputation. Additional exploratory analyses showed that individual concern and trust were important predictors for the acceptance of behavioral measures. Even though we did not find any effects of communication strategies on behavioral measures, our results support SCCT’s utility in guiding communication strategy during a pandemic.
Abstract: Street-level health bureaucrats have actively contributed to implementing the COVID-19 prevention, control, and treatment policies of the Myanmar government. However, the need for bureaucrats on the frontlines of policy implementation to maintain a safe distance from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has posed challenges for the sharing and exchange of information related to health risks. In this context, this study examined what health risk communication patterns have emerged and developed among street-level health bureaucrats during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how this risk communication has been affected by street-level health bureaucrats’ perceptions of client meaningfulness and willingness to implement COVID-19 policies. The results reveal that street-level health bureaucrats in the health risk communication network are embedded in reciprocally or transitively connected discussion relationships that sustain their health risk communication over time. Moreover, when specific healthcare staff members perceive more benefits of COVID-19 policies for their patients and are more willing to care for patients, other healthcare staff avoid them to protect themselves from COVID-19 infection. Due to their higher level of understanding of the adopted measures, healthcare staff members who are highly willing to implement COVID-19 policies are frequently approached by other staff members to communicate about COVID-19 issues. This study empirically contributes to the literature on street-level bureaucrats in times of pandemic crisis by examining the formation of health risk communications in the context of street-level health bureaucrats’ responses to and participation in public healthcare policy implementation processes.
Abstract: Disaster communication guidelines emphasize that journalists should be aware of past major disasters and draw lessons from the coverage of those events. The press is an important source for the evolution of historical disaster and risk research paradigms over time. This study explored the top 10 damaging hydrogeomorphological events in Portugal selected from the disaster database, which includes events that caused human damages (fatalities, injured, missing, evacuated, and displaced) reported over a period of 151 years (1865–2015) by the Portuguese newspaper Diário de Notícias (DN). News analysis was guided by the news protocol. The analysis of the news published in DN enabled us to identify textual marks that present interconnections in the journalistic coverage and produce discursive standards for these disasters. The textual marks were associated with the hazard and risk paradigms. The discursive standards of DN did not clearly reflect the ruptures in the hazard paradigms. As a rule, the journalistic reports contributed to the naturalization of disasters and the gap in public understanding of risks, by presenting an approach focused on relief actions—ignoring social issues, vulnerability, and population resilience—reducing the discourse of preparedness for future disasters.
Abstract: At the site of nuclear accidents, firefighters situated near nuclear power plants (NPPs) assume responsibility for suppressing fires and rescuing workers from leaked radiation. Their timely responses to nuclear emergencies can prevent or minimize the catastrophic impacts of these accidents. Despite their important role in nuclear emergency management, little is known about the factors that influence firefighters’ nuclear emergency responses. We recruited 179 Korean firefighters (96% male) situated near NPPs. We examined whether and how knowledge regarding nuclear accidents and trust in the authorities operating nuclear power plants were related to firefighters’ risk perceptions of nuclear accidents to predict their preparedness and willingness to respond to nuclear emergencies. Our results indicate that trust moderated the effect of knowledge on the perceived risk of nuclear accidents, and that the perceived risk mediated the relationship between knowledge and firefighters’ preparedness and willingness to respond to nuclear emergencies. The results revealed a pattern of moderated mediation, in which perceived risk mediated the indirect effect of knowledge on preparedness and willingness when the firefighters’ trust was low, but not when it was high.
Abstract: A growing body of evidence underscores that social capital mitigates the impact of natural hazards such as floods. But we know less about the distribution of social ties in developing countries regularly hit by shocks. Our study examined the differences between demographic groups in South Punjab, Pakistan affected by the 2010 floods, comparing respondents’ levels of social capital measured through proxies such as received social support, perceived community cohesion, accessibility to leadership, and general level of trust. We carried out univariate and multivariate analyses of factors including gender, education, occupation, landholding, family size, annual income, number of livestock, and home stability. Using data collected in face-to-face interviews with 450 flood survivors, our analysis showed no statistically significant difference in the flood victims’ scores on all four scales based on gender and family size. However, education, occupation, landholding, annual income, and home stability statistically correlated with levels of social capital. Respondents with high levels of education, high levels of land, higher home stability, and a government job typically had higher scores in all four measurements of social ties. Our results show strong inequality in the distribution of social capital, with better connections and assistance coming to those who already have better socioeconomic positions in society.
Abstract: Tropical cyclones (TCs) may cause severe impacts on the activities of coastal fishing vessels. Due to the unavailability or unacceptability of detailed Automatic Identification System (AIS) data that are capable of differentiating fishing activity from navigation, as well as the lack of detailed models and observation data of TC winds, few studies have provided quantitative and reliable assessment of the impacts of TCs on fishing activities. In this study, we modeled snapshots for the TC winds of 52 TCs over the Northwest Pacific (NWP) basin from 2013 to 2018, as well as daily fishing hours and daily hours of presence (hereafter “vessel hours”) of fishing vessels. Based on these data, the spatiotemporal pattern of fishing vessel activity over offshore China was first analyzed and mapped. Then, a TC wind hazard index and absolute and relative impact indices were proposed to assess the impact of the 52 TCs on fishing and vessel hours. Their relationship was then fitted with the cumulative distribution function (CDF) of the log-normal distribution. The results show that in the 2013-2018 period, the most active fishing areas were located in the South China Sea. In each instance, an increase was first observed in the initial several years; then a decrease followed in the yearly total fishing hours per vessel in the remaining years. The relative impact index was significantly correlated to the TC wind hazard index proposed in this study. Based on the quantitative relationship between the specified TC hazard index and the impact indices, it is possible to implement a pre-cyclone rapid loss assessment due to TC avoidance in the future.
Abstract: Long-term flood risk adaptation and decision making are complex because the future is full of deep uncertainties. Flexibility and robustness can be used to deal with future uncertainty. This study developed an integrated modeling framework that extends previous studies to the spatial domain to assess the future flood risks and the cost and benefit of three adaptation measures for four types of buildings in Shanghai. Real options analysis (ROA) and dynamic adaptive policy pathways (DAPP) were integrated to develop a dynamic adaptation pathway and identify robust adaptation options. The results show that: (1) Sea level rise and land subsidence will significantly exacerbate the flood risks in Shanghai; (2) Among the three flood control measures, wet-floodproofing has the best economic performance in terms of both the net present value and the benefit/cost ratio, followed by dry-floodproofing, and elevation; (3) Dry-floodproofing can be used at the beginning of the future period (2030–2100), and it can be replaced by wet-floodproofing in 2035–2042; the elevation measure also shows good performance at the beginning of implementation, but its performance will decline after 2041–2045; (4) The combined strategy of dry- and wet-floodproofing in 2044–2046 and a hybrid strategy combining the three measures should be the optimal solution for reducing the flood risks in 2047–2051. The methodology developed in this study can provide insights for coastal cities to formulate cost-effective and feasible adaptation strategies in a deeply uncertain future.
Abstract: History has shown that occurrences of extreme weather are becoming more frequent and with greater impact, regardless of one’s geographical location. In a risk analysis setting, what will happen, how likely it is to happen, and what are the consequences, are motivating questions searching for answers. To help address these considerations, this study introduced and applied a hybrid simulation model developed for the purpose of improving understanding of the costs of extreme weather events in the form of loss and damage, based on empirical data in the contiguous United States. Model results are encouraging, showing on average a mean cost estimate within 5% of the historical cost. This creates opportunities to improve the accuracy in estimating the expected costs of such events for a specific event type and geographic location. In turn, by having a more credible price point in determining the cost-effectiveness of various infrastructure adaptation strategies, it can help in making the business case for resilience investment.
Abstract: In the context of climate change, coastal cities are at increased risk of extreme precipitation and sea level rise, and their interaction will aggravate coastal floods. Understanding the potential change of compound floods is valuable for flood risk reduction. In this study, an integrated approach coupling the hydrological model and copula-based design of precipitation and storm tides was proposed to assess the compound flood risk in a coastal city—Haikou, China. The copula model, most-likely weight function, and varying parameter distribution were used to obtain the combined design values of precipitation and storm tides under the nonstationary scenario, which were applied to the boundary conditions of the 1D-2D hydrological model. Subsequently, the change of the bivariate return periods, design values, and compound flood risks of precipitation and storm tides were investigated. The results show that the bivariate return period of precipitation and storm tides was reduced by an average of 34% under the nonstationary scenario. The maximum inundation areas and volumes were increased by an average of 31.1% and 45.9% respectively in comparison with the stationary scenario. Furthermore, we identified that the compound effects of precipitation and storm tides would have a greater influence on the flood risk when the bivariate return period is more than 50 years, and the peak time lag had a significant influence on the compound flood risk. The proposed framework is effective in the evaluation and prediction of flood risk in coastal cities, and the results provide some guidance for urban disaster prevention and mitigation.
Abstract: Climate change effects tend to reinforce the frequency and severity of wildfires worldwide, and early detection of wildfire events is considered of crucial importance. The primary aim of this study was the spatial optimization of fire resources (that is, watchtowers) considering the interplay of geographical features (that is, simulated burn probability to delimit fire vulnerability; topography effects; and accessibility to candidate watchtower locations) and geo-optimization techniques (exact programming methods) to find both an effective and financially feasible solution in terms of visibility coverage in Chalkidiki Prefecture of northern Greece. The integration of all geographical features through the Analytical Hierarchy Process indicated the most appropriate territory for the installment of watchtowers. Terrain analysis guaranteed the independence and proximity of location options (applying spatial systematic sampling to avoid first order redundancy) across the ridges. The conjunction of the above processes yielded 654 candidate watchtower positions in 151,890 ha of forests. The algorithm was designed to maximize the joint visible area and simultaneously minimize the number of candidate locations and overlapping effects (avoiding second order redundancy). The results indicate four differentiated location options in the study area: (1) 75 locations can cover 90% of the forests (maximum visible area); (2) 47 locations can cover 85% of the forests; (3) 31 locations can cover 80.2% of the forests; and (4) 16 locations can cover 70.6% of the forests. The last option is an efficient solution because it covers about 71% of the forests with just half the number of watchtowers that would be required for the third option with only about 10% additional forest coverage. However, the final choice of any location scheme is subject to agency priorities and their respective financial flexibility.
Abstract: COVID-19 prompted an abundance of independent and collaborative quick response disaster research (QRDR) initiatives globally. The 2020 federal COVID-19-driven granting opportunities initiated the first official QRDR effort in Canadian history, engaging social scientists to rapidly address the pandemic-related societal influences. This study aims to portray the landscape of this nascent social science QRDR workforce through the first round of federal COVID-19-specific grant recipients. A case study approach was employed to analyze 337 social science projects with 1119 associated researchers, examining the demographic structure of these COVID-19-driven social science researchers and their research projects’ characteristics. Accordingly, the findings are presented through the following two streams: (1) From a researcher perspective, this case study describes researcher typology, geographic location, primary discipline, and educational background, highlighting the diverse characteristics of social sciences researchers, and uneven research development across Canada. (2) From a research project perspective, this case study identifies and synthesizes research project subjects, themes, collaborations, and Canadian distinctions, emphasizing the need for galvanizing cooperation and focusing on uniquely Canadian contexts. The case study illustrates challenges associated with data curation that pose barriers to developing a nuanced understanding of the Canadian social science community COVID-19 research landscape. Consequently, the case study develops three recommendations to improve QRDR development in Canada: promoting information transparency, dissemination, and updates; improving hazards and disaster research workforce evaluation; and enhancing multi-stakeholder cooperation.