Contents & Abstracts
Editorial : Responding
to disaster: Questioning assumptions and building capacity
by Douglas Paton
in Protective Services Personnel: Organisational Influences
by Karena J. Burke & Douglas Paton
Keywords: emergency services, organisational climate, job satisfaction, traumatic events, occupational stress
Personnel employed in the protective services are routinely exposed to events and situations that can be described as stress inducing and traumatic. While the general stereotype is that these occupations are highly stressful, as a result of this repeated exposure, recent studies have shown that such personnel rate the organisational characteristics of their job as more stressful than operational exposure to traumatic incidents. The aim of this investigation was to apply a model of organisational health in an emergency services context, with a specific focus on the contribution of organisational factors to employee stress and well-being. Participants were 321 police, ambulance and firefighting personnel. Structural equation modelling analysis revealed that organisational climate had the strongest influence on employee job satisfaction, with both direct and mediated relationships through coping and daily work experiences. The fact that organisational processes have such a profound impact on employee well being highlights the importance of acknowledging the effect of organisational influences on protective services employees, particularly for the development and promotion of truly preventative mechanisms in dealing with critical incident and occupational stress.
and hoarding: How inefficiencies actually make disaster relief work
by Sidney Dekker & Nalini Suparamaniam
Keywords: procedures, plans, relief work, authority, hierarchy, efficiency
Over a period of three years we interviewed over 150 relief workers and team leaders who had been in the field, as well as their managers at various levels. As predicted by the literature, the gap between administrative and deployment images of disaster relief work can be largewhat Simon called the insulation of higher levels of the administrative hierarchy from the world of fact (1998; p. 320). What has not been highlighted before, however, is how this gap allows for inefficiencies (particularly in resource and logistics management) that actually help relief work function. Particularly tactical, local resource hoarding by team leaders, designed to reduce coupling and manage their own reputation and prestige proves possible only through the existence of gap. Thus, what makes disaster relief inefficient, is also what makes it work in terms of getting appropriate relief to local settings.
Keywords: psychosocial treatment, relief work, disaster relief, tsunami relief, psychological trauma, cross-cultural trauma recovery, trans-cultural treatments, alternative treatments
Native (local) resistance and dissatisfaction regarding international, cross-cultural mental health responses (trauma relief) hinder the ability of international agencies to aid in cases of natural disaster, war, and displacement. International and native relief efforts frequently overlook culturally-embedded treatments; instead, they devote enormous funds and personnel to implement the spread of Western therapies. Selected culturally-embedded treatments could be more effective, less resource intensive, or less disruptive, but there is little research to support or reject specific treatments. Ethnomedical competence strives to fairly judge non-Western therapies whereas cultural competence is flawed in privileging Western therapies. This paper maintains that agencies working cross-culturally should ascertain how culturally-embedded treatments are (or are not) being utilized and implement an appropriate plan of integrated services.
September 29, 2006