Date of Conferral
Tracey M. Phillips
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) usually participate in disaster response in rural African communities. Disasters in African communities are often characterized by huge fatalities, which are associated with a slow pace of response. The use of information and communication technology in disaster response is recognized as an effective conduit for enhancing response. Previous research indicates the efficacy of the use of mobile telephones in disaster response in advance countries. However, there remains a critical gap in the available literature on the experiences of EMTs with the use of mobile telephones in disaster response in rural African communities. The purpose of this generic qualitative study was to explore the experiences of EMTs with the use of mobile telephones in disaster response in rural African communities. The innovation diffusion theory served as the theoretical framework of the study. Data were collected through face to face, semi-structured interviews with 10 EMTs from 2 institutions in Sierra Leone. Data were analyzed with the use of Nvivo. The findings of this research include (a) The key areas in emergency response where mobile telephones are most useful; (b) The benefits of the use of mobile telephones in disaster response, including the enhancement of communication and search and rescue efforts; (c) Challenges to the use of mobile telephones; and (d) Ways to improve the use of mobile telephones. The results of this study may enhance positive social change through contribution to the reduction of fatalities usually associated with slow disaster response. It is recommended that future research be conducted on the experiences of other categories of first responders, and to explore alternative funding sources for disaster response in rural African communities.