What Does Emergency Response Look Like in Rural Areas of the Country?

Picture of Tara Gibson By Tara Gibson

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rural communityEmergencies occur across the country on a daily basis, but when a severe or prolonged disaster strikes, the demands on local emergency response organizations and healthcare facilities are extreme. In rural communities these demands can be overwhelming due to a lack of resources, especially when a sudden emergency occurs with no warning. The best way for rural communities to deal with these large-scale disasters effectively is by planning and preparing before an emergency happens.

Challenges Rural Communities Face

When preparing for a natural disaster or a mass attack it’s important for rural areas to understand the challenges they may face. According to Rural Health Info, rural residents, communities, local governments, and others involved in emergency response and preparedness face the following challenges:

  • Resource limitations, such as equipment and supplies, training, and infrastructure
  • Access to healthcare for higher levels of care
  • Remoteness and geography
  • Low population density
  • Communication issues

As rural areas are known for having lower populations and are in more remote locations, there are limitations when it comes to resources such as emergency supplies as well as access to higher levels of healthcare.

When a rural community is preparing for and responding to an emergency, they depend heavily on assistance from healthcare facilities, local public health departments, law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical services, and 9-1-1 dispatchers. A community can implement an emergency preparedness approach by assigning community members different tasks based on their strengths and abilities to assist in the case of an emergency.

Who Should Be Involved in Rural Emergency Preparedness and Response?

In a rural community, many community members should be involved with both emergency preparedness and emergency response. According to Rural Health Info, “Rural healthcare providers and organizations should be familiar with local-, regional-, and state-level emergency management systems. Building professional relationships with key personnel in various health-related or civic organizations and government agencies will better position rural healthcare providers to work effectively and efficiently in the event of a disaster.” These groups could include local and state health departments, primary care associations, behavioral health facilities, clinics, long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, law enforcement officials, first responders, and disaster relief agencies.

Related Blog: A Look at the 2019 Top 10 Safest Cities in America

Community members can also participate in emergency planning efforts, receive training, and serve as response and recovery volunteers. FEMA has a great Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program which offers education and training in disaster response for community volunteers, Rural Health Info explains. Some of the trainings include; basic search and rescue, fire safety, disaster medical operations, and procedures for hazardous materials and terrorist incidents.

Communication Planning for Rural Communities

When a disaster strikes, communication is extremely important between 9-1-1 and first responders, healthcare facilities and their staff, and local governments with their residents. Having strategies in place for communicating and engaging with rural communities during both emergency preparedness planning as well as in the case of an emergency is key to keeping residents safe. Implementing a reliable mass notification system that is able to geo-locate areas that may be affected by a disaster is a great way to get alerts out to communities in danger. Rural Health Info provides the following communication resources for emergencies:

How Could Technology Help Rural Emergency Response

In a rural area state and local governments ultimately want their community to stay safe and feel secure. By implementing helpful technologies to streamline emergency communications, towns, cities, counties, and entire states have seen improved response times and have made sure the right messages have gotten to the right people clearly and concisely.

A mass notification system is a helpful technology for rural areas when it comes to alerting groups of an emergency. Eaton County, a mostly rural county, has a surprisingly high population and the several tight diverse communities need different notifications for varying needs. When they were looking for a mass notification system some of the features they wanted included geo-targeting, segmenting, and scaling. They also wanted to make sure residents could select the alerts they wanted to receive to prevent alert fatigue. Luckily, they found their solution. 

Related Blog: How Eaton County, MI Delivers Concise Communications to Their  Community

One technology that has proven to be extremely useful is a platform that provides 9-1-1 telecommunicators and first responders powerful capabilities for handling, dispatching, and responding to emergency calls more efficiently. The Rave 911 Suite has incredible features that allow for community engagement, two-way text messaging, improved e911 location tracking, and more!

Rave 911 Suite Emergency Response

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Written by Tara Gibson

Tara is a Marketing Coordinator on the Rave Mobile Safety marketing team. She loves writing about all things K-12 education, and manages the Rave social media channels. When she's not working, she's taking care of her smiley, shoe eating, Instagram-famous fur baby, Enzo!

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