Implementing an integrated multijurisdictional emergency management system: a case study at the Savannah River Plant

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The combination of modern, technological hazards and overlapping government jurisdictions requires coordinated, multijurisdictional emergency management. The Three Mile Island incident clearly demonstrated the impact of technical hazards and the importance of intergovernmental cooperation. A method is required to understand intergovernmental considerations in emergency management. This thesis derives such a method by proposing a three component model.

The first component considers that all intergovernmental relationships are dynamic. Efforts to describe intergovernmental systems in terms of fixed relationships are not accurate. Rather intergovernmental systems are better described by the concept of movement along a scale between relationships that are separate and distinct and relationships that overlap and are interdependent. Relationships change along the scale depending on the strength of case-specific influencing variables.

Identification and use of windows of opportunity describes the second component of the model. Institutional opportunists in favor of cooperative, intergovernmental programs must be able to identify and act when opportunities exist. Understanding this second component improves the chances of implementing lasting, cooperative intergovernmental results.

The final component of the model emphasizes that by taking advantage of system change at the optimal time, linkages can be established between multiple jurisdictions. In multi-jurisdictional emergency management these linkages are made by integrating emergency plans and procedures.

Applying the model by utilizing a case study in multijurisdictional emergency management completes this thesis. The case study documented is an intergovernmental cooperative planning effort between the Department of Energys Savannah River Operations Office and the states of South Carolina and Georgia.