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Should Emotional and Psychological Well-being be an Emergency Management Priority?

Hanging on the wall of many Emergency Operations Centers (EOC’s) is a list of the priorities within an emergency. Generally, when an emergency occurs, the first priority is always life safety; the second priority is the stabilization of the incident, and finally they work on protecting property. I was reading articles around the current wildfires in California and I came upon one that showed me that we might need to add another step in there.[1]

As the fires burned near Ventura California, as one family’s home burned to the ground, all the homeowner wanted saved was a Christmas tree and a holiday wreath hanging on the door. The homeowner told a local reporter that if he could save just one thing, it to be the family Christmas tree because the ornaments held so many memories.

While life safety should always be first, I wonder if the emotional and psychological well-being of survivors should not also be considered. These types of injuries have long lasting effects. I beleive that they should be considered alongside physical injuries. I am not sure where it would fit into the current list of EM priorities, but it should at least be on the minds of first responders.

The tree was ultimately picked up by the family, and while they lost their home, their important memories were left intact.


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