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Searching For Unity: Achieving Coordinated and Effective Management of Large-Scale Disruptive Events.

Colella, Brian (2015) Searching For Unity: Achieving Coordinated and Effective Management of Large-Scale Disruptive Events. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The coordinated and effective management of major disruptive events requires the collaboration of highly trained cadres of emergency services professionals, known in the public safety vernacular as unified command teams. Confronted by complex, dynamic, confusing, time sensitive and dangerous environments, they must make their decisions under rapidly evolving conditions.
The consequences of inadequate incident command can be devastating on the lives and fortunes of those affected by major disruptive events. Yet finding the formula for efficacious emergency management is complicated by the disjointed configuration of public safety agencies throughout the United States, and compounded by the ad hoc nature of these multidisciplinary command teams, which are often assembled quickly from among disparate groups of public safety agencies. This research strives to develop an understanding of the small group processes which guide the work of unified command teams by investigating the following elements:
• The impediments and facilitators of command team formation and collaboration.
• Mechanisms of leadership emergence and the characteristics of effective team leaders.
• The architecture of incident scene communications and information systems.
• The processes utilized by small problem solving teams as they make decisions under uncertainty.

Emergency response has been addressed by scholars mostly at the macro-level, focusing on national or international disasters. By studying emergency management on a regional basis, this research helps to fill a gap in the current literature. Utilizing a grounded, mixed methods approach, the bulk of the primary evidence is gathered through 75 semi-structured interviews with experienced incident commanders. Modeling and simulation are also utilized to explore methods of decision support for command teams during complex emergency operations. The field study area consists of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, a region with a disparate aggregation of over 450 public safety agencies.
The ultimate goal of this study is to suggest actions to enhance the effectiveness of emergency management during major emergency events. Accordingly, the key policy recommendation of this research is for the development of permanently established, professionally trained unified command teams that can provide large-scale incident management support to local municipalities throughout the region.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Colella, Brianbac47@pitt.eduBAC47
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairComfort, Louiselkc@pitt.eduLKC
Committee MemberMiller, Daviddymiller@pitt.eduDYMILLER
Committee MemberKearns, Kevinkkearns@pitt.eduKKEARNS
Committee MemberSkertich,
Date: 1 July 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 16 April 2015
Approval Date: 1 July 2015
Submission Date: 3 May 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 361
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs > Public and International Affairs
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: incident command, disaster management, emergency management, decision making under uncertainty
Date Deposited: 01 Jul 2015 14:42
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:27


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