I typically think about emergency response from the perspective of the utility industry, but there are many other angles we can consider. One such angle involves the role of HADR (Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Relief), which is an initiative by the U.S. Armed Forces focused on helping victims of natural disasters. Military personnel following the mission of HADR were deployed after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2011 Japan earthquake, and most recently, Hurricane Matthew.
The operations of HADR are impressive. For Hurricane Matthew for example, the U.S. Navy deployed a task force to deliver food, water and medical care to residents throughout the Caribbean, especially Haitians. Three ships were deployed – an aircraft carrier, an amphibious transport, and a hospital ship with 2 operating rooms, 100 intensive care unit beds, 400 intermediate care beds, 500 minimal care beds, a lab, x-ray station and CT scanner. Two of the ships also provide drinking water to the tune of 700,000 gallons a day! You can read more about the Hurricane Matthew deployment here.
Although these types of military efforts are obviously on a grander scale than a typical utility restoration event, they are similar in a lot of ways. Utility personnel, local first responders, military personnel, regulatory agents, and even customers all have the same objective when it comes to a disaster scenario – get things back to normal as quickly and safely as possible. Since everyone has the same goal, collaboration is the best way to accomplish it. While I certainly hope I never have to see HADR at work in my backyard, understanding the roles of all stakeholders during these situations – military and otherwise – can only help improve collaboration going forward.