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A framework for integrating information resources for chemical emergency management and response

Melissa G. Seaton, MS, Andrew Maier, PhD, CIH, DABT, Sonny Sachdeva, PhD, Charles Barton, PhD, DABT, Eugene Ngai, MS, Thomas J. Lentz, PhD, MPH, Pranav D. Rane, MPH, Lauralynn Taylor McKernan, ScD, CIH

Abstract


Effective emergency management and response require appropriate utilization of various resources as an incident evolves. This manuscript describes the information resources used in chemical emergency management and operations and how their utility evolves from the initial response phase to recovery to event close out. The authors address chemical hazard guidance in the context of four different phases of emergency response: preparedness, emergency response (both initial and ongoing), recovery, and mitigation. Immediately following a chemical incident, during the initial response, responders often use readily available, broad-spectrum guidance to make rapid decisions in the face of uncertainties regarding potential exposure to physical and health hazards. Physical hazards are described as the hazards caused by chemicals that can cause harm with or without direct contact. Examples of physical hazards include explosives, flammables, and gases under pressure. This first line of resources may not be chemical-specific in nature, but it can provide guidance related to isolation distances, protective actions, and the most important physical and health threats. During the ongoing response phase, an array of resources can provide detailed information on physical and health hazards related to specific chemicals of concern. Consequently, risk management and mitigation actions evolve as well. When the incident stabilizes to a recovery phase, the types of information resources that facilitate safe and effective incident management evolve. Health and physical concerns transition from acute toxicity and immediate hazards to both immediate and latent health effects. Finally, the information inputs utilized during the preparedness phase include response evaluations of past events, emergency preparedness planning, and chemical-specific guidance about chemicals present. This manuscript details a framework for identifying the effective use of information resources at each phase and provides case study examples from chemical hazard emergencies.


Keywords


chemicals, physical hazards, emergency response and management, emergency response resources, emergency planning, emergency responders, decision framework

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/ajdm.2019.0314

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