Race Against Time: 12 Questions that can save lives

Race-against-timeAre you prepared for a major disaster? The first 72 hours are the most critical for emergency teams to respond to those in need and prevent further damage. Lives depend on it.

In the last decade, the world has experienced a spate of major disasters, from earthquakes in Chile, Haiti, New Zealand, Japan, Turkey, and Nepal to tsunamis in Indonesia, the Pacific and Japan, fires in Australia, floods in the Philippines, volcanoes in Iceland, droughts, hurricanes and tornados in the US. Hundreds of thousands continue to die or suffer. And increasing population density means the scale of disasters in terms of loss of infrastructure and human life will only increase.

Planning for a disaster is far from straightforward; in the months after the Christchurch earthquake, we sought insight into the importance of being prepared, and what can go wrong with the best-intentioned plans. One of the best ways to prepare is to learn what worked for others – including what they wish they had known before disaster struck. How you answer these twelve questions today could save lives when you’re faced with disaster in the future.

1) Do we have an emergency strategy or Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?

2) When was the last time we updated and tested our emergency strategy?

3) Have we considered every contingency?

4) Are our service providers or partner agency BCPs robust and well-practiced

5) Will we know where emergency personnel and vehicles are if the power is down or the roads are closed?

6) Do we have an ‘incident management system’ and suitable technology resources?

7) Do we have effective lines of communication with our service providers and other emergency agencies?

8) Are we prepared for disaster? Do our emergency personnel train for major disasters every year?

9) How do we make ourselves aware of everyone’s needs, and find, communicate with, and help those in our community who can’t reach us?

10) Do we have established relationships with our stakeholders, local businesses (hardware suppliers, concrete cutters), and community groups with whom we can correspond and work with in an emergency?

11) Do we have a communications plan and team to communicate appropriately with both the media and public via a range of mediums, including social media?

12) Is our community aware of the risks, and ready and able to survive by themselves for up to three days after a disaster?

If you have searched for survivors in collapsed buildings, or rescued flood-stranded victims you will know emergency crews rely on their training and the lessons of others to get them by when it’s their turn to experience a once-in-a-lifetime major disaster.

Read more about emergency preparedness in our whitepaper, Preventing escalating chaos in a disaster.

This article is taken from Connection Magazine, Issue 6. Connection is a collection of educational and thought-leading articles focusing on critical communications, wireless and radio technology.

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