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Emergency Responders

The Roman satirist Juvenal famously asked, "Who will guard the guardians?" An equally pertinent question for today might be "Who will respond to the emergency responders?" That sentiment recognizes that first responders are often in the line of danger themselves and are subject to various risks and safety issues. A new monograph by the RAND Corporation discusses safety management in disaster and terrorism response. Safety issues at the scene of a major disaster, say the authors, should be handled using a risk management process. Specifically, decision makers should "weigh the potential benefits of responder's action against the risks involved in carrying it out." The authors make a series of recommendations on topics ranging from collecting hazard information to managing equipment. For example, it is suggested that decision-makers develop guidelines "for estimating the safety equipment requirements for disaster response operations."