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Tokyo Olympics – Will they be prepared?

The 2020 Olympics has been announced for Tokyo, one of the most earthquake prone megacities on the planet. The 2011 Sendai quake has also upped the chances of a big quake in the Tokyo area.

Despite extensive disaster preparedness for earthquakes Tokyo still has many vulnerabilities, and the clean-up of the Fukushima disaster will still be ongoing as the games get underway.

Plenty of Olympics have been held in disaster prone cities: Beijing, Athens, Los Angeles, Montreal, Mexico City and Rome all have high earthquake hazards, but fortunately a major natural disaster has not been visited on an Olympic Games. The 1908 games were originally going to be held in Rome, but were moved to London after the 1906 eruption of Mt Vesuvius led to financial pressures on the Italian Government. The worst olympics disaster in history was the terrorist attack on the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, and with billion dollar security budgets terrorism has been foremost in the minds of games’ organisers in recent years.

Although risk management has become a new priority for the IOC, assessment of disaster and emergency preparedness, particularly for natural disasters appears to be brief.

With the influx of athletes, officials and visitors Japan will need to put in place special measures to ensure that they are as prepared as the rest of the population, upgrade emergency response units and ensure that construction for the games is specially hardened – and that’s just for starters. A disaster ready games will be expensive and for a nation already faced with the recovery bill of the 2011 quake and tsunami and the clean-up of Fukushima it will be difficult for it to face up to the challenge. But the costs of not being prepared can be far greater.

 

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Defence White Paper – A disaster focus?

Today the Federal Government released a new Defence White Paper. Given all the discussion about the use of the ADF in disaster operations I thought I’d given it a review from a disaster and humanitarian response perspective.

The new paper contains 26 references to disaster operations, down from 31 references in the 2009 White Paper.

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Factcheck: Increasing community demand?

After every emergency and whenever the media, and many emergency managers, are talking about emergency service response the claim of ’emergency services are under increasing demand’ is oft repeated. It’s very tempting to believe that there is an increasing demand on emergency services, with the increased resources that such a trend can bring, but what do the numbers say.

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Extreme weather. Extreme planning. Extremely necessary?

In a piece published in the SMH yesterday Anthony Bergin, Director of Research Programs at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, argues that climate change will require greater preparedness for our emergency services. That doesn’t necessarily need to be the case.

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NSW EM Updates and Fire Danger

As Tasmania continues to face terrible bush fires and NSW gears up for a day of catastrophic fire danger in many areas*, I noted two new developments in NSW emergency management:

  • The new State Emergency Management Plan (EMPlan) has been published. Consistent with recent changes to the State Emergency and Rescue Management Act it expands the roles of functional areas and names agency responsibilities across PPRR. It’s also a much shorter document clocking it at 35 pages excluding annexes (79 with) versus 51 pages in the old DISPLAN (98 with annexes).
  • A new guide: Government, you and what to do – A Guide to Natural Disasters in NSW, which contains comprehensive information about natural disasters in NSW; what individuals, families and businesses can do before, during, and after them; and what risk management activities the Government is undertaking. It also includes handy guides, checklists, social media links and other useful information.

For those in emergency management in NSW – good luck for tomorrow. Anyone wanting to find good information here’s a couple of recommendations:

  • Head to the NSW RFS Website, Facebook Page or follow them on Twitter. You can also download the NSW version of the Firesnearme app for iPhone and Android.
  • Tune in to ABC Radio (frequency list here) or follow @ABCemergency on Twitter.
  • Don’t forget to look out the window.

And if you’re looking to help out with the Tasmanian Bush Fires Appeal go to the Red Cross website.

*Some media sources are pegging it as the worst fire danger day on record for the state. I’m not so sure. It will probably be the worst for at least 10-20 years, but I’m not sure it would eclipse the fire danger (although this was before the FFDI index was even invented) during the heatwave of 1939 (which set many of the individual temperature records in NSW).

A Global Emergency Number

The World Conference On International Telecommunications that is just finishing up in Dubai, has attracted most attention for proposals for greater internet regulation. But the conference and the International Telecommunications Union looks after many things besides the internet.

One of these is the emergency calling number (in Australia 000), in particular for mobile devices (in Australia 112 will work on all GSM mobiles).

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Upgrading central city hospitals would put them in the firing line

Today a piece appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald calling for a specialist disaster response capacity to be established in central city hospitals across Australia.

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