Posted: September 24th, 2020

Disaster Characteristics and Management Styles

The recent spike in man-made and natural disasters has mandated nurses to acquire additional skills necessary to respond to such disasters. While nurses play a crucial role in providing day-to-day health care worldwide, the occurrence of a disaster mandates them to break out of their normal daily activity and provide additional assistance. Therefore, nurses’ preparedness to handle disasters in any country is vital (Rivera-Rodriguez, 2017).

Type of Disaster: The 2017 North Bay and Southern California Fires

The disaster occurred late 2017 and added to the long list of fires that have plagued California over the years. Notably, California fires are particularly dangerous due to their proximity to residential areas. The extended period of dry Santa Ana winds increased the danger that the fires posed since they pushed the large fires westward and southward through the slopes of the Transverse Ranges (Nauslar, Abatzoglou & Marsh, 2018). The authorities blamed the fires on the faulty gas and power lines that were in the area. Besides, the authorities estimate that more than forty-six people could have lost their lives and property worth billions of dollars destroyed. Just like other fire disasters in the state, the 2017 disaster disrupted many lives due to the ensuing respiratory challenges for the people who inhaled the dangerous smoke.


One of the major characteristics of the 2017 fire disaster in Southern California was that it was human-made. The authorities blamed the company responsible for maintaining the gas pipes and power lines for the wildfires. Besides, there was no warning before the disaster, and people had to evacuate urgently. While most people evacuated, some of the residents stayed back and volunteered to help the firefighters. The other characteristic is that the community’s loss was enormous due to the lives lost and the resultant vast damage to infrastructure and private property. Although the community had firefighting infrastructure at hand, the fire department had to request the federal government to help battle the fires.

Stages of Management

The role of nurses during the response to the fire disaster was crucial. The role transcended direct clinical provision to include problem-solving and coordinating psychosocial support. Some of the challenges that the nurses faced during the disaster response include understanding the content and location of the disaster plan and maintaining ethical considerations during the intense exercise (Al Thobaity, Plummer & Williams, 2017).


The first stage during a disaster response is response. The stage involves taking measures to reduce morbidity and mortality. During the stage, some of the actions of nurses include triage, providing acute medical care, and sorting and relocating medical records. During the fire disaster in 2017, the main task involved putting out the fire and sheltering the victims.


The recovery stage involves the government and society’s actions to establish a return to normalcy. After the 2017 disaster in Southern California, people had to repair buildings and homes. The government, on the other hand, had to rebuild the infrastructure and provide some of the compensation for the people most affected by the disaster.


Although natural disasters’ frequency continues to increase due to changing climatic conditions, the human-made disasters are preventable. The first step towards mitigation is the identification of the entities that were negligent in their responsibilities. Mitigation also involves the creation of policies to prevent the recurrence of the disaster.


There are many lessons that the nursing profession and the society learned from the 2017 fires. Some of the lessons involve how to respond faster and contain the fires as well as performing triage. Notably, many nursing institutions are now offering disaster management causes based on real-life case studies such as California fires (Khoram-Manesh et al. 2015). The new curriculum improves the ability of the nurses to handle similar disasters.


The ability of the nurses to manage disasters is critical, especially since the frequency and intensity of natural disasters are increasing. While some of the disasters are human-made, other disasters are natural. Nevertheless, the four different disaster management stages enable the stakeholders to minimize mortality, morbidity, and property destruction.


Al Thobaity, A., Plummer, V., & Williams, B. (2017). What are the most common domains of the core competencies of disaster nursing? A scoping review. International emergency nursing31, 64-71.

Khorram-Manesh, A., Ashkenazi, M., Djalali, A., Ingrassia, P. L., Friedl, T., von Armin, G., … & Komadina, R. (2015). Education in disaster management and emergencies: Defining a new European course. Disaster medicine and public health preparedness9(3), 245-255.

Nauslar, N. J., Abatzoglou, J. T., & Marsh, P. T. (2018). The 2017 North Bay and Southern California fires a case study. Fire1(1), 18.

Rivera-Rodriguez, E. (2017). Role of the nurse during disaster preparedness: A systematic literature review and application to public health nurses.


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