Life under the “new normal”: notes on the future of preparedness

Being prepared for emergencies is not a new concept. At every level of government there are contingency plans for natural disasters, accidental catastrophes, local events and personal emergencies of every conceivable manner. Organizations from the Red Cross to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to hospital emergency departments are in a constant state of readiness. Often, regionally specific plans are in place based on expectations of particular kinds of disasters: earthquakes in the West, hurricanes on the East Coast, and tornados in the Midwest. In fact, long before 9/11, even terrorism had been on the minds of at least a handful of stalwart preparedness experts – mostly in the military and in special governmental agencies (Benjamin & Simon, 2002; Stern, 2003; Clarke, 2004).
The chapters in this volume survey the state of our understanding of the psychological response to terrorism and other exigent events. It is clear that much has been learned. At the same time, many questions remain. What are the best interventions post-event? How do we recognize those in most immediate need, or those who may be most susceptible, other than those with pre-existing psychopathology? (North et al. this volume). What sorts of pre-event messages are the most useful for preparing the community?

Disaster Preparedness