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Risky Bites: Radios and Airport Ground Crew

Safe Skies 2011 - ground crew
Welcome to Risky Bites – a new series on the blog that will take a short form and seek reader input.

Anyone who regularly flies in Australia will often get the announcement from cabin crew to “… as we will be refueling, please switch off your mobile phone whilst on the tarmac..”. We know that the risk of a mobile phone causing an explosion is vanishingly small, if it’s even possible. But I always see ground crew using radios, which makes me wonder:

Are the radios that are used by airport ground crew intrinsically safe?

If you know, please chime in in the comments.

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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Climate Change, Extreme Weather and Emergency Preparedness Senate Inquiry: Part 6

In this final instalment of my series on the Recent trends in and preparedness for extreme weather events Inquiry I’ll address the remaining terms of reference in a roundabout way. See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 here. The remaining terms deal with Australia’s overall response to climate change adaptation and national coordination of risk management. I want to address the impact of climate change on severe weather events being far from the only climate impact relevant to emergency management; climate change adaptation being far from the only emerging challenge in emergency management; and the interconnectedness of many current and emerging threats for Australia and the world.

(f) progress in developing effective national coordination of climate change response and risk management, including legislative and regulatory reform, standards and codes, taxation arrangements and economic instruments;

(g) any gaps in Australia’s Climate Change Adaptation Framework and the steps required for effective national coordination of climate change response and risk management; and

(h) any related matter.

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L’Aquila Earthquake Verdict

L'Aquila 2010-by-RaBoe-078On the 6th of April 2009, a devastating earthquake struck the medieval Italian city of L’Aquila. In the town and others nearby 309 people were killed, more than 1,500 people injured, 20,000 buildings destroyed and 65,000 people left homeless.

In the wake of the earthquake 6 Italian scientists and one government official, members of the National Commission for Forecasting and Predicting Great Risks, were charged with manslaughter on the basis that they provided misleading and confusing information. Information that, prosecutors alleged, directly led to people deciding to remain in their homes after a minor earthquake which happened just hours before the fatal shock hit.

Just under three weeks ago the magistrate found all seven guilty prompting massive criticism from scientists worldwide.

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Zombies, Zombies Everywhere

In an increasingly saturated media environment how do emergency managers get their messages across? Research into the best methods of community engagement, heightened use of social media and increasingly polished public service announcements are all playing a role.

They’re also turning to that mainstay of B-Grade horror flicks: Zombies.

A cult favourite since George Romero released Night of the Living Dead, they have enjoyed a resurgence with such films as Zombieland, 28 Days Later, Fido and Shaun of the Dead. Zombies have certainly been getting plenty of attention on the intertubes:

Brains!

Google search trends for zombies, vampires and terrorists

Zombies on average and particularly over the last four years have outranked both vampires (despite the best efforts of Stephanie Meyer) and terrorists in terms of global google searches.

Based on that data you could argue that zombies are perceived to be a larger threat than terrorists but what use can zombies be in disaster management?

Zombies are a great way of getting people’s attention, particularly those in Gen Y. They can also inject a little humour into what otherwise can be a fairly dry and depressing topic.

Back when I delivered emergency preparedness workshops I occasionally used the zombie analogy as a way of injecting a little humour into my sessions¬† (it also helped divert attention when I wasn’t sure what an item in the emergency kit was for; “the crowbar? that’s clearly for protection in the case of a zombie attack”). It was fun at the time, but I had no clue that others were picking up on the idea.

In the last few years zombies have burst onto disaster preparedness sites like, well, a horde of zombies hungry for brains. Here’s a few examples of emergency managers using zombies in their preparedness efforts:

Despite zombies being a pop culture phenomenon across the English-speaking world I haven’t been able to spot any similar initiatives outside of North America. If readers are aware please let me know in the comments.

And don’t forget to keep your emergency kit stocked and your family plan updated. As with all disasters, it’s not a matter of if but when the undead will come hunting for our brains.