Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 85, Issue 6, pp 910–922

Preparing for Disaster: Response Matrices in the USA and UK


DOI: 10.1007/s11524-008-9310-y

Cite this article as:
Kahn, L.H. & Barondess, J.A. J Urban Health (2008) 85: 910. doi:10.1007/s11524-008-9310-y


Disasters, whether man-made or naturally occurring, require complex responses across multiple government agencies and private sector elements, including the media. These factors mandate that, for effective disaster management and because of the unpredictability of such events, response structures must be in place in advance, ready to be activated on short notice, with lines of responsibility clearly delineated and mechanisms for coordination of efforts already established. Disaster response experiences in the USA and the UK were reviewed at a conference convened by the New York Academy of Medicine and the Royal Society of Medicine in June 2007. Lessons to be drawn from these comparisons were sought. The importance of careful advance planning, clear delineation of spheres of responsibility and response roles, effective mechanisms for communication at all levels, and provision for adequate communication with the public were all identified as key elements of effective response mechanisms.


US and UK disaster response matricesCompetent leadership, accountability and responsibility during disastersAdvance planning and preparation for disastersIntegrated hospital and ambulance services during disastersEffective communication within the disaster response matrix and externally, with the publicEffective linkages with the media established as part of the disaster matrix

Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program on Science and Global Security, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International AffairsPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.New York Academy of MedicineNew YorkUSA