Contents & Abstracts
Editorial : by Douglas Paton
This paper will discuss how pre-existing organsitional conditions and managerial practices can combine with local conditions to create a disaster. Drawing upon the work of Reason (1990) the 1995 Cave Creek disaster (New Zealand) will be used to illustrate this process. It will describe how top-level decisions are transmitted through organsistional pathways and create local conditions that promote the commission of unsafe acts. The implications of organsaitional change, the prevailing safety culture, and staff responsibility will be discussed. Practical applications of the theory, in the form of a matrix for exploring defensive failures, will be presented.
Using a methodology adapted from Bostrom, Fischhoff, and Morgan (1992), citizens' (N = 96) knowledge about how to prevent damage from earthquakes was compared to knowledge extracted from expert sources. The gaps or misconceptions in knowledge provided a basis for information on earthquake damage prevention. There was an increase in perceived preventability, indicating support for the hypothesis that changes in perceived preventability occur when specific targeted information is introduced. Prior earthquake knowledge correlated with earthquake preparation, but perceived preventability did not relate to prior knowledge or preparation for earthquakes. These findings are discussed in terms of their theoretical implications and the application to disaster preparation programs.
Emergency work can be distressful, but in recent years there has also been a growing number of publications which recognise the positive aspects experienced by emergency workers. This paper identifies humour as a coping strategy which contributes to emergency workers' adjustment to difficult, arduous and exhausting situations. We argue that humour enhances communication, facilitates cognitive reframing and social support, and has possible physical benefits. The authors believe an important delineation needs to be made between a healthy use of humour and humour that is used to mask feelings in a way that will cause later distress.
This paper describes possible consequences of exposure to trauma in the police occupation. During the span of a career, police officers are generally exposed to traumatic events more often and more intensely than those in other occupations. Under such conditions, the probability of addiction to and residual effects of trauma increases. Trauma addiction may be a result of physiological and psychological processes that increase the need for exciting or dangerous activities. Residual impact of trauma may be the result of separating from police service, diminishing stimulation from police activities, and loss of social support from a cohesive police culture. The paper concludes with suggestions for therapy.