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The Concept of Assisted Management of Large-Scale Disasters by Horizontal Organizations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2012

Frederick M. Burkle Jr.*
The Center for International Emergency, Disaster and Refugee Studies, Departments of Emergency Medicine and International Health, Schools of Medicine and Public Health, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland, and the Advanced Systems Concept Office, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Department of Defense, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, USA
Robin Hayden
Public Relations, Center of Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, USA
The Center for International Emergency, Disaster and Refugee Studies, Department of Emergency Medicine, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 1830 E. Monument Street, Suite 6-100, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, E-mail:


Management of large-scale disasters is impeded by inadequately designed organizational infrastructure. The vertical organizational structures of most agencies responding to disasters contribute to a poorly integrated response, especially when collaboration, information sharing, and coordination are required. Horizontal (or lateral) organizations have assisted traditionally vertical civilian and military agencies by enhancing their capacity to operate successfully in complex human emergencies and large-scale natural disasters. Because of the multiagency and highly technical multidisciplinary requirements for decision-making in chemical and biological disasters, similar horizontal management options must be considered.

Special Reports
Copyright © World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2001

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