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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Disaster planning theory Laughy, Laurence Dominique Renee


Recent changes to federal legislation have reinforced the historical shift from a focus on planning for war to one of planning for natural or man-caused disasters. However, disaster planners have not adapted their approach to emergency preparedness and the para-military planning doctrine has led to a number of problems. Disaster planners have focused on the product, the emergency response plan, rather than on the process of planning. They have failed to involve the community in the planning process and have seen themselves as planning for rather than with the community. A search for a disaster planning solution leads to an examination of disaster planning literature, organizational development models and traditional planning theories. Disaster planning literature has tended to focus more on providing the disaster planner with concepts and principles to include in creating an emergency response plan, than an actual model or framework for incorporating a community plan. While organizational development literature has contributed many problem solving techniques and processes to be utilized in order to maximize community input, it has not addressed the problem of working with a pluralistic community, often with incongruent goals. The traditional planning theories are explored using the heuristic rubic of SITAR as developed by Hudson (1979) and Christensen's (1985) theoretical model linking together Hudson's work with variable problem conditions. These theories are found to be lacking in a variety of ways. The comprehensive approach, in the setting out of the master plan, does not allow for changes in knowledge, climate or priorities over time. An incremental approach is contingent upon experience for improvement and fails to provide for the shift in focus from emergency response to community education and participation. Transactive planning relies on intuition and experience and becomes a difficult model to use for disaster planners in areas which have had few disasters. While advocacy planning provides a means of elevating public awareness and creating positive public pressure on government bureaucracy, it is a reactionary planning process dependent upon negative circumstances to stimulate the formation of special interest groups. The fragmented approach of radical planning theory fails to provide for a co-ordinated and efficient emergency response. While Christensen's approach to linking planning approaches to different situations resolves some of the problems, it does not allow for a process by which the planner can engage with a changing community over a considerable amount of time. As a means of providing for changes in both knowledge and community priorities, and. incorporating a philosophical approach based on community participation, the author proposes leadership planning theory as a new paradigm and shows how the adoption of this theory by disaster planners leads to an anticipatory approach rather than a reactive one. The model is developed by examining the processes of goal selection and goal achievement. An argument is made for the selection of goals based on both the community and the planner's knowledge base and value system. Once the goals are selected, the theory adapts the situational leadership model developed by Hersey and Blanchard (1982) to a community based model. This approach provides the disaster planner with a practical means of involving the community in a series of planning processes leading to a mitigative disaster approach. The final chapter includes a Disaster Planner's Handbook, a step-by-step description of a planning process that can maximize the potential of the leadership planning theory. It is offered as a guide for practicing disaster planners, a means of incorporating the theoretical perpsective with the necessary practical considerations, and, therefore, be of assistance in developing their own community emergency plan. The thesis concludes with a review of conclusions and suggests areas for further research.

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