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Top 10 Disasters of 2012: Manmade Disasters

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Part 2 of a 2-Part Series

In 2012, we saw many disasters strike on a global level—killing thousands and inflicting billions of dollars in property damage. In last week’s blog, we focused on the top 10 natural disasters of 2012. This week, we’ll discuss those disasters which originated from man…from intentional attacks such as those relative to active shooting incidents to gross negligence, millions of dollars in damage and thousands of lives were lost to manmade events in 2012.

We hope to highlight those that manmade disasters in 2012 which generated the most media attention, in an effort to encourage due diligence and preparation for the manmade disasters that will inevitably occur in 2013.

  1. Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Disaster. An independent parliamentary investigation assigns blame to “man-made” failures before and after last year’s earthquake leading to the 2012 meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Tokyo. Breakdowns are said to have involved regulators working with the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., which failed to implement important preventative safety measures. Implementing important preventative safety measures is something we value highly at Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services.
  2. Deadly Philippine Floods. In 2012, deadly floods swamped nearly all of the Philippine capital. Although flooding directly resulted from natural storms, the extent of the damage is said to have caused more as a result of poor planning, lax enforcement and political self-interest than from the storm itself. Damaged watersheds, massive squatter colonies living in danger zones and the neglect of drainage systems are some of the factors that experts report have made the chaotic city of 15 million people vulnerable to extensive damage following severe floods.
  3. Acts of Terror.While individual terrorist attacks could claim all 10 spots on this list of manmade disasters in 2012, we will allow room for just one entry. It is widely believed that terrorism is the most significant national security threat for many countries in the world, despite the capture and killing of key Al Qaeda leaders in 2011 including Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden and Anwar Al-Awlaki of the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). As written by The Guardianreporter Glenn Greenwald, “The ‘war on terror’ – by design – can never end.”
  4. Aurora Movie Theater Massacre. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.” On July 20, 2012, a 24-year-old neuroscience grad student allegedly shot 12 people and wounded dozens more at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
  5. Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting. On December 14, 2012, a 20-year-old man fatally shot 20 children and 6 adult staff members and wounded two at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. After killing students and staff members, the attacker committed suicide by shooting himself in the head as first responders arrived. The massacre was the second-deadliest school shooting in United States history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. It also was the second-deadliest mass murderat an American elementary school, after the 1927 Bath School bombings in Michigan. 
  6. Atlanta Hospital Shooting. An Alabama man opened fire in a hospital, wounding an officer and two employees before he was fatally shot by police on December 15, 2012. Birmingham Police Sgt. Johnny Williams says the officer and employees suffered injuries that are not considered life-threatening.
  1. Clackamas County Mall Shooting. On December 12, 2012, a 22-year-old man, who was wearing a camouflage outfit and a white mask, shot an initial burst of fire and then more rounds at Clackamas Town Center, killing two. The gunman who opened fire on shoppers at the mall had no connection to those he fatally shot and is said to have wanted to kill as many people as possible during his rampage.
  2. Fort Hood Shooting. Differences of opinion exist between whether the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood which left 13 people dead, was workplace violence or a full-fledged terrorist attack. Three years later, on December 15, 2012, another assailant shot at police from his parked vehicle before police shot and killed the suspect. Officials say the officers tried life-saving measures before emergency medical personnel arrived, but the soldier died. Investigators later determined that the 30-year-old man had been assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division.
  3. Spinal Meningitis Outbreak. As reported by the New York Times, “one of the many troubling aspects of the national meningitis outbreak caused by a tainted steroid drug is that so many people are at risk: 14,000 are thought to have been exposed, mostly through injections near the spine for back or neck problems. The drug was contaminated with a fungus that causes a severe form of meningitis that can result in stroke.” Since the outbreak can be attributed to poor medical training, the 23 deaths and sickness of 294 others was unnecessary and avoidable.
  4. Unintentional Triggers. The National Geographic Channel recently ran a special about increased incidences of natural phenomenon such as earthquakes, tornadoes and volcanoes which — though on the surface natural — can actually be unwittingly activated by humans. The NGC special examined how efforts to harness natural resources can have the opposite effect…triggering the very disasters they had intended to eliminate. For example, a Chinese dam weighing as much as 3,000 Empire State Buildings caused tremors that claimed the lives of 90,000 people. According to National Geographic reporters, another dam could trigger mudslides that would bury millions. What’s more, growing urban areas can cause tornadoes and mining and drilling have already activated deadly mud volcanoes.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, check out the Allied Universal Training System by Universal/Fire Life Safety Services. Our new Version 3.0 system offers the best emergency training system on the market.

Resolve to be Ready – The Government Wants You to Make New Year’s Resolutions

Monday, December 19th, 2011

With wildfires, droughts, historic flooding and several other disasters, 2011 proved to be quite a year for emergency managers. To help with what is expected to be a turbulent 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently announced the Resolve to be Ready in 2012 campaign. The purpose is to promote individual and business preparedness in the face of disasters.

FEMA is encouraging the private sector to be more self-sufficient in its management of disasters. After such a busy year as 2011, the reserves of FEMA and other organizations are sparse. The private sector can help itself by limiting losses incurred following disasters or by preventing damage altogether through proper planning and safeguards.

Many training materials and tips for improving readiness can be found through the site Ready.gov:

  • Multi-language communication materials are available in several languages including Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French, and Hindi, among others.
  • Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Programs are intended to help organizations to follow proven standards for optimal safety. Followed standards come from three sources— the American Society for Industrial Security, the British Standards Institution, and the National Fire Protection Association.
  • Voluntary certifications through Ready.gov are the result of a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector and are designed to promote self-sufficiency and a decreased reliance on government aid.
  • Disaster kit contents are detailed on the site, including the importance of following the rule of storing one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Pledges can be taken at www.ready.gov/resolve, which certifies an individual or business entity is taking necessary steps to be ready to act during a disaster.
  • Free materials including the publication Ready Business are available through the site.
  • Business continuity plans that will allow companies to resume business operations quickly are fully explained on Ready.gov. Companies are encouraged to consider work-at-home arrangements, backup data storage, and other safeguards that will prevent delays in business.
  • Disaster planning exercise training materials can be downloaded from the site and used to run real-world drills.

Business owners and facility managers are encouraged to offer readiness tips, including:

  • Incorporate readiness information and products into any holiday parties. Perhaps you can provide a NOAA radio as a party gift.
  • Need a theme for your party? While “disaster preparedness” might not sound too exciting, you could build a fun volcano or rent a fake snow machine to bring some lightness to the party while raising awareness.
  • Perform fire drills during the holiday season to ensure tenants don’t forget about safety.
  • Hang up various print and electronic banners available for free from Ready.Gov.

Resolving to be ready does not mean you have to live a constant state of paranoia or fear of disaster. It simply means implementing the right practices, products, or facilities that limit your building’s exposure to harm. Your tenants and their employees will have confidence in your safety features, which can prove invaluable in an emergency situation.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 2.5 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit rjwestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.