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Humanitarian Emergency Response9

Humanitarian Emergency Response: Employable Skills in Response and Recovery Phases in Haiti Earthquake

Humanitarian Emergency Response: Employable Skills in Response and Recovery Phases in Haiti Earthquake


In 2010, the country suffered huge losses, including lives of people as well as destruction of properties. The earthquake hit the capital city of the country, resulting in one of the catastrophic impacts ever witnessed in history (Rencoret et al., 2010). This paper seeks to explore some of the employability skills that the response and recovery phases employed to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.

Employability Skills in Response and Recovery Phases in Haiti Earthquake

Situation 1: Search and Rescue Phase

This phase entails search for and provision of support to the victims of the earthquake. In this phase, activities that involved putting into consideration the terrain effects after the disaster included urban search in collapsed buildings, among others. The following illustrate some of the employability skills that were demonstrated in the search and rescue activities.

Communication Skills

Additional chores carried out by various teams included afloat and ashore casualty treatment, the dissemination of hand crank commercial radios, aerial reconnaissance that aided in rescue, the supply efforts, and the provision of radio broadcast capacity used for emergency services information (Watters, 2013). In addition to search and rescue activities aiming specific sectors, teams and the search components were deployed in response to requests communicated through various sources. The communication channels deployed involved emails, text messages, satellite phone calls, Twitter messages (Bruno, 2011). Many reports were based on text messages allegedly coming from people trapped under the rubble, but still being able to communicate by phone.

After the source of the offer and the reliability of the information had been evaluated, these requests were prioritized, double-checked and contact was made with those reporting the incident to ascertain the exact location and the validity of the assertion (Watters, 2013). Search groups were sent to those reported sites from reliable resources and rescue teams were only committed to those if the search group could verify the validity of the claim. During the initial stages of the earthquake, all communication technologies failed to provide reliable communication. The initial attempt was to utilize Iridium phones, but since the media and the whole response community were depending on these devices, the satellite became full, and no phone calls could be made or received. This hampered the flow of communication with the teams working in the field and in many of the times the information about their progress.

Planning and Organizing Skills

Although the impacts of the earthquake could have been reduced in countries with effective planning and constant implementation of a preparedness plan, the disaster preparedness plans of both countries are poorly executed. The formulation, review, update and implementation of emergency preparedness plans, strategies and national building codes are shaped by socio-economic condition and political fragility of the countries (Watters, Crisis Management Exercising, 2013). Additionally, the preparedness plan was heavily dependent on the financial input from international communities and non-governmental organizations as Haiti had no economic power to implement the preparedness plan. The fact that the rescue and cluster teams were affected by the skirmishes of the earthquake made the agencies settle in one position. Teams had leaders who planned and organized the events and made contact with the humanitarian coordinator and the cluster leads of the other activated clusters and started coordination within the respective fields.

Improving Planning and Organizing Skills

Leadership and coordination were challenges at the initial stages of the operations. However, the cluster teams provided mechanisms that improved the combination of the efforts within the initial stages of the disaster. The rescue team assisting the cluster led in the information management process and provided logistical support such as meeting facilities and announcement of the various meeting arrangements. Besides, they provided expertise within the field of inter-cluster coordination to facilitate the inter-cluster coordination process and assist to the cluster leads (Watters, Business Recovery Strategies, 2013). The involved agencies formed Inter-Agency Standing Committee primarily as a platform for engagement between involved agencies. It was a special forum to facilitate decision-making process between the agencies of rescuers.

Technological Skills

Information Technologies remained significant in building up a robust workforce to deliver relief and aids without truly being corporally present in the country. The coordinating volunteer technology support team established a body of social media and networks to bring together technical expertise to help the search, rescue and evacuation efforts (Watters, IT Disaster Recovery, 2013). The group consisted of technocrats from various nations and established Haitian Crisis Camp. Therefore, Haiti required web components for their deployment in the country to assist in response and recovery. The technologies provided information gathering and locating devices ranging from offline Haiti map browser, Open Street Map road data, and verified social amenities facility information.

Effectiveness and Improvement of Technological Skills

The establishment of coordination structures by the military and humanitarian teams was an important factor for success in the operations. The Haiti crisis map triggered the creation of live map using new technologies such as Twitter, Facebook and Skype to make the crisis locating possible (Meier, 2011). The rescue teams and responders used crisis map to save hundreds of lives of individuals trapped under the rubble. However, the communication and coordination practices were improved by the availability of a high-resolution satellite enabling the rescue teams to trace the streets.

Situation 2: Evacuation

The phase entailed identifying and provision of needs upon rescue of the affected. The displaced people were relocated to temporary places of recovery while waiting for reestablishment activities. This section demonstrates some of the employability skills that were employed during the evacuation phase in Haiti earthquake.

Teamwork Skills

Teamwork skills were utilized during the evacuation process to remove people from danger zones. It is evident that agencies and corporation drawn from across the world worked without policy and the teamwork helped them meet the challenges. Teams from throughout the world gathered in Haiti and surrounding communities united by a common mission (Cruse, 2013). Rescuers operated around the clock in difficult, hazardous conditions to save the lives of people trapped in buildings that collapsed during the earthquake and resulting aftershocks. These teams also gave assistance to family members anticipating news of missing loved ones, offered medical aid to those suffering injuries, and helped to assess the structural integrity of hospitals and other requisite public buildings during the active search and rescue as well as evacuation phase.

Initiative and Enterprises Skills

The teams that responded to the mishap did so with the level of professionalism, expertise, and experience that international search and rescue guidelines demand. The teamwork initiated setting up of new hospitals, shelters, supplies of food and water (Rahill, Ganapati, Clérismé, & Mukherji, 2014). Other agencies such as mobile phone companies, technological firms as well as financial institutions assisted in preparation and delivery of information. The useful way forward was however established through laid down guiding principles that enhance the collaboration of the support agencies and businesses.

Recovery Phase

Upon completion of search and rescues, as well as evacuation, phases, the following ideas is to restore the people or the affected places into almost; if not exactly; the way it was before the disaster. The recovery phase emphasizes of maximizing the ability of the victims to cope and regain development out of the situation. At this point, stress-related diseases as well as financial burdens are among the many risks. Therefore, it is imperative that the skills demonstrated in this stage create and maximize awareness among people about ways of comping and rebuilding their economy. The following section illustrates some of the employability skills that were used during the recovery phase in Haiti earthquake.

Situation 1: Early Recovery

Organizing and Planning Skills

Most of the essential infrastructures were severely compromised by the earthquake, and human resources were inadequate. The recovery phase involves the management and organizing long and short-term goals towards the recovery of the nation. The collaboration of the agencies and the Haitian government focused on how to organize ways to settle the displaced population to the sense of normalcy (Bulger & Briggs, 2016). The landscape in Haiti was a challenge in the recovery and reconstruction of the collapsed premises. The recovery efforts in this phase involved reconstruction of schools, hospitals and other social amenities as well as organizing the communities to rebuild, generate means of securing food, water and sanitation services. The financial institutions, donors and other agencies provided a profound strategy to enable the communities to engage in economic activities.

Effectiveness and Improving Organizing and Planning Skills

The contact of the various teams eased with the teamwork skills while the availability of expertise contributed to the informed decision-making thus problem-solving was effective. Initiative and enterprise in collaboration with organizing and planning skills ensured the establishment of short and long-term solutions in cases of disaster. The setting of proper channels to counteract the communication and organizational challenges improved the disaster response in Haiti. Despite the difficulties experienced by the rescue teams and other agencies, they were able to combine their efforts leading to the establishment of Inter-Agency Standing Committee for communication and decision-making among humanitarian teams. Through the improved planning and organizing skills to reach the victims, humanitarian groups achieved the objectives at hand and effectively attended to the vital needs. The availability of expertise contributed to the informed decision-making thus problem-solving was effective.

Situation 2: Medium to Long term Recovery

Effectiveness of learning skills

During the recovery phase, the Haitian government and the stakeholders learned new things in the bid to adapt ways to prevent detrimental impacts and be able to pick up from disasters quickly (Sadiq, 2014). Haitian government officials recognized the earthquake’s devastation as an alternative to developing an equitable mechanism to share the fortunes to elsewhere in the country. From the disaster, the country learnt on how to rise above the challenges and generate mechanisms to create awareness to the public that would result to reduced life loss in case of occurrence of a similar crisis. The recognition of the local expertise and learning of the actual problems assisted the philanthropic groups to form a formidable teamwork.

Problem-solving and planning

A cloud of suspicion surrounds connections between compassionate agencies and enterprises in Haiti. The weaknesses of the private sector and the weak local businesses negatively influenced the shipping and distribution of aids to the victims (Sheller et al, 2014). The landscape affected the accessibility of the scene thus technological advances were required. In addition, the management of the donations to settle and redistribute the affected people required good planning and self-management skills. However, the agencies were able to move beyond the barriers and reach the affected population through forming a common ground and capitalizing on the locally available private expertise. The integration of efforts among the key players and the international humanitarian groups paved the way for successful rescue and recovery phases. The donations from across the globe enabled the country to overcome the disaster and settle the affected populations.

Effectiveness and Improvement of Problem-solving Skills

Despite the local challenges in Haiti ranging from the accessibility of the scenes owing to the landscape, the teamwork capitalized on the strengths such as the volunteer expertise to offer free of charge services made the skills used effective (Lundahl, 2011). The disastrous earthquake was a measure to the global nations to prove their capacity, ability to pool together both human and financial resources and response readiness as well as organizing skills. Notably, the rescue teams improved the transport facilities through the assistance of military thus helping them to run the airport and repair the destroyed port. The setting of proper channels to counteract the communication and organizational challenges improved the disaster response in Haiti.

Improvement of Learning Skills

Weak and reluctant governmental institutions in Haiti worsened the situations. However, the nation was able to develop competencies to deal with the situations and on how to handle future occasions. The setting of proper channels to counteract the communication and organizational challenges improved the disaster response in Haiti. The use of operational research enabled humanitarian operations to focus on the preparedness and planning on response and optimization of the existing systems (Martinez, Stapleton, & Wassenhove, 2010). Haitian earthquake depicts relevance of the applied operation research in enabling operations on the ground, operational objectives, decision-making and solving of bottlenecks. The connections of the diverse skills from the aid agencies improved the level of the skills to be employed by the Haitian government in case of a similar disaster.


To sum up, the rescuers started intensive response and pronounced Haiti disaster an emergency and employed relevant resources to the assistance of the response. The government of Haiti acted by calling for international community assistance to search, rescue and help in the reconstruction of the country whereby technological, teamwork, organizational and planning skills were used to enhance disaster response.


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