Clarify the issues being discussed by relating them to scriptural and biblical principles and experience. Each thread and reply must reflect critical thought, relate the course content to real-world applications with biblical perspectives. A minimum of 1 academic/scholarly source is referenced appropriately in each response; cite all sources used. The replies must be made specifically to the classmate who wrote the treads.
Some common misconceptions associated with behavioral responses to a disaster include the stereotypes that have been displayed in movies and with the visual representation associated with disaster. One popular image of disaster has often centered around the theme of personal chaos, where individuals panic and lose concern for others around them (O’Leary, 2004). Another image is that everyone acts irrationally for their own self interest and become hostile and are innately physically aggressive toward others. Another representation of this behavioral misconception is that victims develop a “disaster syndrome” and become childlike and are helpless, relying on a protective entity as their parental figure to guide them through this distress (O’Leary, 2004).
Disaster research studies demonstrate that this image that is shown to be believed by the public, emergency personnel (to include police and fire departments and the military), government officials, and the news media (O’Leary, 2004). But researchers have found that immediately after disaster that community resilience and unity, strengthening of social tie, self-help, heightened initiative, altruism, and prosocial behavior more often prevail (O’Leary, 2004).
Real-life examples that would contradict the hysterical panic displayed as the norm during a disaster includes stories such as a father and son duo, David and Aaron Diamond of Train Wreck’s Distillery in New Jersey, temporarily ceased producing alcohol and made large quantity batches of hand sanitizer as recommended by the World Health Organization. The Family owned company gave away as much a they could to include health professionals, first responders and members of the public (AP, 2020). A community college in North Carolina uses 3D printers to make plastic masks for first responders and healthcare personnel amidst the pandemic (Craft, 2020).
Understanding the difference between the myth and reality is important to emergency management, because it will alleviate the worry for the emergency management personnel seeking the publics assistance if they realize that the panic myth isn’t necessarily true during a disaster or global event. Rather than the common misconception of thinking the public will flee hysterically, there’s also a hesitancy to evacuate by the public. During Mt. St. Helens eruption in Washington of 1980, the public was warned of the pending danger of the eruption and putting barricades in place to prevent injury and loss of life, but numberous people went around the mountain to witness the eruption (O’Leary, 2004). Understanding this misconception could help emergency management understand that there is a hesitancy to evacuate.
Community comes together as God wants us to during a disaster, by helping others in need and coming together to defeat adversity and not as the world expects us to act, because together we are better than we are alone. “‘and over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:13-14). “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others (Romans 1:4-5).
As emergency responders, when it comes to disasters we are often ultimately focused on one primary goal which is to protect lives and property. One important aspect that we must consider is the behavioral response of the community to whatever disaster they are facing. While often overlooked because it is rarely a hindrance, the reactions and behaviors of the citizens impacted by the event can either prohibit, permit or progress the mitigation and response efforts of the responders. One of the biggest misconceptions associated with behavioral responses to disasters includes disaster mythology. This theory poses the idea that in the event of a disaster, citizens of a community will panic causing mass chaos, rioting, looting, price gouging, selfish behavior, disaster shock, psychological dependency and even the need for martial law (Fischer, page 53). These behavior myths are tested year after year as communities continuously experience disasters and surprisingly these myths are proven false time and time again. Through my experience as an emergency responder, I have worked several natural disasters over the past few years that involved major flooding, fallen trees and property damage. Much to my surprise, during these times, there was a certain sense of calmness in these communities almost such as in an acceptance of what had taken place. As rescue, recovery and reconstruction efforts were underway, citizens came to the aid of their neighbors as well as responders. On multiple occasions, community members volunteered boats and equipment to help make rescues and evacuations in flood waters along with even providing meals for responders. Not only this but neighbors helped each other clear trees and debris from their property all while sacrificing time away from their families and jobs to help speed up the recovery and reconstruction process. Not once have I experienced any of the behaviors noted in disaster mythology with events from floods, tornadoes, ice storms and a pandemic. The closest thing that I believe could be related to this behavior would be the reaction of some citizens to the recent COVID-19 outbreak and the hoarding of food, paper towels and toilet paper. As disturbing and frustrating as this was, I can still hardly compare this to the actions discussed in disaster mythology. The difference in the reality of the behavioral response to disasters as to the myths is extremely important for emergency responders to study, learn and prepare for. Knowing how the community will react to specific events, as much as possible, will help emergency responders plan for things such as when to evacuate, shelter usage and needs as well as whether or not to prep for looting and rioting (Fischer, pages 53-54). By planning for these situations and acting accordingly, simply the correct and proactive actions of responders will often have a greater positive impact on the community therefore encouraging a more positive behavioral response (Dynes & Quarantelli, page 166).
Scripture teaches us many things about reactions and behaviors throughout scripture. One of the most important verses comes from the Gospel of Galatians; “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, English Standard Version). Here the Bible reminds us that we must remember to behave in a Christ like manor at all times and that there is nothing against us showing kind behavior.