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Rebuilding Haiti’s Emergency Management Systems

Monday, February 1st, 2010
Important lessons can be learned from the disaster in Haiti

Important lessons can be learned from the disaster in Haiti

The recent earthquake disaster in Haiti will require extensive rebuilding of the country’s emergency response systems and infrastructure. Unfortunately, as a poor nation, many Haitians did not have the proper resources to ensure emergency preparedness. The only positive result of the disaster is that it will give the country the opportunity to focus on ways to ensure quicker, more comprehensive response time for future disasters.

But the application doesn’t stop in Haiti. Some of the hard-learned lessons can be applied to emergency planning for your buildings. These include the importance of following code standards, maintaining the infrastructure of the building, and making sure that communications procedures are established and followed. Disasters can and will happen, and proper preparation can minimize losses and quicken the pace of rebuilding.

Several aspects of emergency management will need to be rebuilt in Haiti:

Earthquake Codes:

  • Focus will be on implementing new building codes
  • Some studies focus on minimizing population densities and overcrowding
  • Authorities and aid organizations will need to provide assistance to lower income families that cannot afford to meet code regulations to prevent the building of unregulated and unsafe structures
  • Scientists say that future earthquakes are likely and Haiti should be prepared
  • New codes are especially important for multi-story buildings such as offices or hotels
  • Many homes in Haiti were built in stages which led to inconsistent foundation standards

Emergency Planning:

  • Seismologists warned of the threat of a potential earthquake, but most warnings went unheeded
  • Proper planning includes distribution of emergency kits to residents, designated relief zones, and equipment for the clearing of debris from roads

Infrastructure Needs:

  • Prior to the disaster, Haiti’s airport, ports and road systems were in need of repair
  • Strengthening infrastructure allows for faster emergency response
  • Bringing water and sanitation up to modern standards will aid the distribution of emergency supplies and information

Communications:

  • Secure communications are a key to coordinating relief in time of a disaster
  • Telephone and Internet systems need to be improved
  • Communication systems allow individuals to quickly get needed information in terms of where food or medical relief can be located, or where to find temporary shelters

We encourage all of our readers to donate for Haiti Relief by visiting the American Red Cross. Visit www.rjwestmore.com for information about our emergency training program. BE SAFE.