Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
All-hazards pandemic planning is the foundation of current emergency management planning doctrine, yet there is limited information and limited studies related to its effectiveness in mitigating pandemics. The North Texas emergency management community handles incidents of West Nile Virus, H1N1 influenza, and a recent Ebola incident. Despite efforts to mitigate these threats, reported cases and deaths are still occurring from both influenza and West Nile virus. The purpose of this case study was to assess the risk perceptions of emergency planners in a small emergency operation center in North Texas using the cultural theory of risk perception as the theoretical framework. The raw data for this study originated from qualitative semi structured interviews with five emergency managers. By way of qualitative hand coding and thematic extraction, four primary themes emerged from the data: (a) political/organizational climate, (b) emergency response, (c) training and experience, and (d) communication. Additionally, all themes yielded relevant subthemes. The all-hazards approach to pandemic planning was effective as long as planners swiftly adjusted or adapted their plan for individual emergency events. The emergency management community still struggles with ineffective communication, negative political influences, poor coordination, and training shortfalls. Lack of trust in the levels of government emerged as a potential underlying cause to many of the issues. These findings may promote positive social change by assisting emergency management planners in assessing communications, coordination, training, appropriate use of personnel, and to identify areas where lack of trust between community partners may be affecting the overall response effort.