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Facing Hazards and Disasters: Understanding Human Dimensions
and to what extent is that knowledge traceable to NEHRP-sponsored research activities? What gaps exist in that knowledge? What further research—both disciplinary and interdisciplinary—is needed to fill those gaps?
RESEARCH ON DISASTER RESPONSE
Emergency response encompasses a range of measures aimed at protecting life and property and coping with the social disruption that disasters produce. As noted in Chapter 3, emergency response activities can be categorized usefully as expedient mitigation actions (e.g., clearing debris from channels when floods threaten, containing earthquake-induced fires and hazardous materials releases before they can cause additional harm) and population protection actions (e.g., warning, evacuation and other self-protective actions, search and rescue, the provision of emergency medical care and shelter; Tierney et al., 2001). Another common conceptual distinction in the literature on disaster response (Dynes et al., 1981) contrasts agent-generated demands, or the types of losses and forms of disruption that disasters create, and response-generated demands, such as the need for situation assessment, crisis communication and coordination, and response management. Paralleling preparedness measures, disaster response activities take place at various units of analysis, from individuals and households, to organizations, communities, and intergovernmental systems. This section does not attempt to deal exhaustively with the topic of emergency response activities, which is the most-studied of all phases of hazard and disaster management. Rather, it highlights key themes in the literature, with an emphasis on NEHRP-based findings that are especially relevant in light of newly recognized human-induced threats.
Public Response: Warning Response, Evacuation, andOther Self-Protective Actions
The decision processes and behaviors involved in public responses to disaster warnings are among the best-studied topics in the research literature. Over nearly three decades, NEHRP has been a major sponsor of this body of research. As noted in Chapter 3, warning response research overlaps to some degree with more general risk communication research. For example, both literatures emphasize the importance of considering source, message, channel, and receiver effects on the warning process. While this discussion centers mainly on responses to official warning information, it should be noted that self-protective decision-making processes are also initiated in the absence of formal warnings—for example, in response to cues that people perceive as signaling impending danger and in disasters that occur without warning. Previous research suggests that the basic deci-