Operations research in disaster preparedness and response
The public health perspective - Study
Operations research is the scientific study of operations for the purpose of better decision making and management. Disasters are defined as events whose consequences exceed the capability of civil protection and public health systems to provide necessary responses in a timely manner. Public health science is applied to the design of operations of public health services and therefore operations research principles and techniques can be applied in public health. Disaster response quantitative methods such as operations research addressing public health are important tools for planning effective... responses to disasters. Models address a variety of decision makers (e.g. first responders, public health officials), geographic settings, strategies modelled (e.g. dispensing, supply chain network design, prevention or mitigation of disaster effects, treatment) and outcomes evaluated (costs, morbidity, mortality, logistical outcomes) and use a range of modelling methodologies. Regarding natural disasters the modelling approaches have been rather limited. Response logistics related to public health impact of disasters have been modelled more intensively since decisions about procurement, transport, stockpiling, and maintenance of needed supplies but also mass vaccination, prophylaxis, and treatment are essential in the emergency management. Major issues at all levels of disaster response decision making, including long-range strategic planning, tactical response planning, and real-time operational support are still unresolved and operations research can provide useful techniques for decision management.