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Responding to the call: How America’s failing infrastructure puts pressure on emergency response capabilities

Megan E. Ix, BA, Lisa M. Piccinini, BS, William I. Pons, MA, BS

Abstract


America’s crumbling infrastructure has a significant impact on its emergency response capabilities. Failed infrastructure not only creates a need for emergency response but also impacts the ability of first responders to do their job in the first place. To temper these costs, communities across the nation will have to focus on taking preventative measures to repair old infrastructure before it breaks, rather than solely after. This will require balancing a number of important issues, including the financial cost of fixing faulty infrastructure before its failure versus after, the risks to human life and health, and how the sudden, and sometimes extensive, need for emergency response affects the availability of response resources for other accidents.
In this article, the authors look at three areas of failed infrastructure—roads and bridges, water, and electricity—to illustrate the ways that failed infrastructure can impact emergency response needs. The authors conclude that while reactive measures are necessary given the vast levels of repair needed for the country’s infrastructure, proactive actions are also increasingly vital to limit the cost that failed infrastructures impose on the American people.


Keywords


infrastructure, emergency response, emergency responders, American Civil Society of Engineers

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5055/jem.2012.0110

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