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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
We are delighted to present the second issue of the fifth volume of International Journal of Emergency Services in which we are publishing eight papers. The themes and topics covered in these papers range from leadership and leadership development; organisational culture; stress and sickness; state of emergency preparedness for pet owners; use of social media, aircraft rescue and firefighting policy and retirement issues for emergency workers. All the articles provide a rich context ranging from the ambulance, police and fire and rescue services including challenges faced by pet owners in Canada and emergency personnel and cover three continents. The articles bring empirical evidence and conceptual understandings to the issues discussed and have significant implications for policy and practice.
The first paper by Kyungwoo Kim, Kyujin Jung, and Kenneth Chilton investigates the effects of social media use on the resilience of organisations involved in emergency response and disaster management. Using the survey and interview data from more than 75 organisations involved in emergency management, the authors have investigated the impact of social media use on resilience after a tragic flood incident in Seoul, South Korea in 2013. The study findings recorded a positive effect on the perceived level of organisational resilience after analysing the dissemination of disaster information on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube including a positive correlation with community emotional responses. The paper has practical implications for public and non-profit organisations which can use social media to communicate with other organisations and the public in ways that promote resilience.
Paresh Wankhade in the second paper examines the challenges and differing staff perceptions of the changing scope and practice of ambulance personnel in the UK. Drawing on the evidence from an ethnographic study in a large ambulance trust in the UK National Health Service (NHS), the study analyses the changing nature and scope of the ambulance work in the UK ambulance services, the coping behaviour of the ambulance staff and the resultant consequences of such intense work patterns for the organisation, individuals and society in general. The study highlights the challenges faced by ambulance services in coping with the increased demand and the emerging specialist paramedic roles and a university led education model. Study evidence also point to lack of uniformity about these new roles and their appropriate dispatch to the right patients. The paper draws attention to the inconclusive evidence about the safety of patents that have not been conveyed to the emergency departments and the complexity of the decision-making process to minimise potential risks to patients. Health impact of high sickness absence levels in the ambulance workers is further highlighted in the study.
In our third paper, Rene Herron, Todd D. Smith, Douglas Mikutel and M.K. Gorman examine the development process of the issue of Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) standards by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in the USA. The study identified processes and procedures that were supported by NFPA, ARFF technical committee members and identifies the weaknesses, strengths and opportunities of the decision of the decision-making process and the outcomes. This study is one of the few ones that directly address the ARFF area of firefighting and provides guidance with ways to enhance the overall standards development process for NFPA ARFF-related consensus standards. Calls for further research to assess the generalisability of the findings and its application to a broader host of NFPA standards outside of aircraft rescue and firefighting follow from this paper.
The fourth paper by Mairéad Bracken-Scally and Sinéad McGilloway explores the timely and topical issue of the increasing recognition of the post work life of emergency service personnel and the potential impact of trauma exposure on their overall quality of life (QoL) and well-being in the fourth paper. Using a purposive sampling technique as recommended in Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, the researchers recruited a closely defined group for which the research questions were considered important and meaningful. Several recurring and overlapping themes were identified which relate to both retirement as a major life event, and the need to improve the transition to retirement, as well as the unique nature of the emergency service role, and the importance of appropriate support and guidance for retirees. The study also highlighted the prominence of a “crisis” period in the initial stage of retirement as a result of the major life change with potential contributors to this “crisis” period further discussed across a number of other themes. The implications of health in the transition to retirement are seen to be important underling the importance of QoL in retirement. The study findings have clear implications for emergency workers working across different services and settings.
The issue of “lean” management techniques in policing in the time of austerity is examined by Richard Smith. This paper adopts lean as the management theory in which change and transformation opportunities are situated and uses a case study of the financial pressures before the Metropolitan Police in London to argue its case. The premise for this paper is that policing should accept the challenge to make the service “lean” while acknowledging that this is only one of many options available for developing the strategic thinking of the police services to improve efficiencies and enhance criminal justice outcomes. This paper recommends that innovative and ambitious dialogue be encouraged between interested parties in policing, government and private sector organisations to further understand how the transformation agenda in policing could evolve.
Our sixth paper by Damien West and Peter Murphy explores the managerial and leadership challenges faced when managing personnel in the retained duty system (RDS) within English Fire and Rescue Services. It examines the key areas of motivation, commitment, culture, relationships and practical management arrangements. Using primary (interview and survey data) and secondary sources and document analysis, the study identified issues of agreement between management and managers as well as areas of disparity and conflict. It also highlighted matters that appear to be pivotal to the successful management of a RDS, and in particular the importance of how roles are deployed, and managed by senior management, as well as how employees perceive them. The paper has highlighted clear policy and practice implications for “shire” and “combined” fire and rescue services in England if they wish to improve the effectiveness of the RDS. The study findings add to the body of knowledge and makes contribution to the management literature.
In our penultimate paper, Shannon Wagner, Alex Fraess-Phillips and Kelly Mikkelson investigate the predispositional hypothesis related to the “rescue personality” and mental health of new firefighter recruits. This study compared responses to a written set of personality and mental health measures between the new firefighter recruits and non-rescue comparison participants – individually matched based on age, gender, ethnicity and marital status. Data analysis involved statistical one-way between subjects analyses of variance complemented with epidemiological paired odds ratio calculations. The study findings highlighted that firefighter recruits self-reported as being less open to experience and as less likely to report somatisation, hostility and post-traumatic stress symptomatology than comparison participants. Recruits were higher in extraversion and conscientiousness, but indicated no differences in perceptions of risk or sensation seeking behaviour. The paper contributes to the literature on firefighter recruits and provides some initial data regarding personality of those attracted to the fire services, as well as information about the mental health of firefighters prior to joining the service. The study findings also suggests that intervention efforts for firefighter mental health may be effective if specifically designed with the intent of protecting initial levels of good mental health found in recruits, and has significant policy and organisational implications.
Our last paper by Mary Onukem reviews the vulnerability and challenges faced by Canadian pet owners in times of disaster and evaluate the emergency preparedness measures put in place to address the identified issues. The authors identify emergency preparedness strategies from different countries in relation to Canada’s state of preparedness. Pet and animal owners without emergency plans for their animals are more vulnerable than non-pet owners when they need to flee from disaster. The emotional, financial, ecological, social cost/impact of unsustainable emergency preparedness of pet owners and the resultant vulnerability shows the need for cooperation and commitment from all the stakeholders. Based upon a need analysis, the study argues for a system of a national mandatory strategy that engages pet owners in preparing for emergency should be considered in addressing emergency preparedness of pet owners to keep individuals and their communities safe. The study has implications for further practice in a wider variety of settings.
As we approach the sixth year of publication of IJES, we are overwhelmed by the response received from the readers, the rising coverage of the journal and in particular the growing inter-disciplinary nature of the journal. We are also delighted to announce that the journal is now included in the latest Journal Quality List released in September 2016 by the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) evidencing the quality and reach of the journal. With Professor DeMond Miller’s appointment as the Associate Editor and his background in disaster and emergency management studies, the journal’s mission to foster interaction between the practitioner and academic communities is further advanced. We reiterate our commitment to publish high-quality research relevant to the emergency community and its relevance to a wider audience.
We are also continuing with our efforts to expand the influence, visibility and reach of the journal for an international audience ranging from practitioners, policy makers, professionals, academics and general public. In 2017, we will continue to expand our presence at international conferences by sponsoring/hosting specialist panels on emergency services management. In April 2017, IJES sponsored panel (led by Professor Wankhade and supported by Peter Murphy, former IJES editor) has been selected at the International Research Society for Public Management (IRSPM) annual conference organised by Corvinus University of Budapest, Hungary. Also for the fifth consecutive year, Professor Wankhade will be leading a specialist panel on emergency services at the European Academy of Management (EURAM) Annual Conference 2017 hosted by University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland from 21-24 June 2017 in Glasgow. Professor DeMond Miller will co-chair a mini-conference that will focus on Borders, Citizenship and Emergency Preparedness at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
As always, we are grateful to our authors, reviewers and readers in supporting IJES and helping us to publish high-quality research. We value your comments and feedback including suggestions for future themes, topics and expressions of interest for special issues. We again renew our call for publishing with us or joining IJES as potential reviewers and/or on the editorial board.