Disaster relief: Fatugue and countermeasures



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The emphasis of this paper has been to educate disaster leaders on fatigue and fatigue management. The need for sleep is real, inescapable and often misunderstood. The impact of fatigue on performance is greatly magnified when individuals have to operate under conditions of high emotional, psychological or physiological stress – all inherent conditions for disaster response teams. Fatigue can clearly increase the risk of fatalities and injuries. Fatigue in disaster relief workers is an unstudied and critical safety issue in the complex process of disaster management and relief. This paper is designed for leaders in disaster agencies and management as guide to understanding the problem of fatigue in the austere uncontrolled chaos of a disaster event and to be able to implement effective scientific countermeasures to ensure mission success. \r\nThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found that the incidence of fatigue is underestimated in virtually every transportation mode, because it is so hard to quantify and measure. Many accident investigations do not obtain the information necessary to determine the contribution of fatigue; namely, the condition of the workers, the extent to which they have been deprived of sleep, and their state of alertness. \r\nThis report will show through studied “best practices” in areas of industry (the military, medicine, the transportation industry and aviation) that the un-researched hazard of fatigue during disasters exists and more importantly by comparing and review these other areas the reader will be prepared address the challenge of severe decrements in cognitive and physical performance caused by fatigue. The outcome is to educate disaster relief leaders about fatigue, human fatigue physiology, the risks and hazards of fatigue as well as countermeasures to fatigue. Then armed with this new knowledge disaster leaders will be empowered to make effective decisions and establish policy and doctrine with a resulting positive impact on disaster relief safety.



sleep, fatigue, disaster preparedness, countermeasures, alertness