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Posts Tagged ‘emergency’

The second focal point of the TIEMS handbook, Training for rural communities in emergency management & emergency situations, states as an objective the need to “Raising the awareness on technical solutions involving computers, communication and information technology and social sciences to provide emergency and disaster managers with helpful decision support”.

After the recent floods in Germany and the Netherlands, it has been stated that the high incidence on the population may be due to overreliance on ICT technology for communication purposes. It is a fact that ICT relies on the existence of a functioning electrical network. What happens if the electrical flow is cut off? In those situations, the ICT system will go and, with it, internet and mobile communications.

I was living in Germany many years ago, so long ago that the Berlin Wall still existed. One Sunday afternoon sirens started to sound. I don’t know if sirens, used during WWII and after, are the answer. What I know is that we have to put in place a communication network that works even if the electricity goes, even if internet goes, even if mobile communication goes.

Probably, relying on people directly communicating to each other would be the best bet. It would be good to investigate the application of the concept of fractal social organizations to the design of a communication network based on people.

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Most people in the developed world rely on the authorities for most of their basic needs, be it daily needs, such as healthcare, or emergency response, such as forest fires.

Healthcare professionals are intent that we, as individuals, take a more active attitude in preserving our health. Obviously, those most interested in preserving our health is we ourselves.

Is it the same when we face emergencies? Do we take responsibility for acting as knowledgeable first-responders in case of an emergency? I want to underline KNOWLEDGABLE; I am not talking about acting for the sake of acting. Most of those impromptu UNKNOWLEDGEABLE actions are nothing more than running around like headless chickens, making noise without any contribution to ameliorating the consequences of the event.

This is the gordian knot of emergency prevention and response: should citizens be the first first-responders in case of an emergency? Taking control of our lives seems to be a good winning strategy; consequently I would say that citizens should be able to respond efficiently in case of an emergency. They are in the front line of the incident. If they know how to behave, critical time can be gained with a prompt and efficient response before professionals arrive.

Furthermore, a knowledgeable citizenry is essential in the prevention stage. Forest fires could be prevented if people take responsibility for keeping forests clean, clearing up plastic bags, glass bottles, underbrush and so forth.

Assuming, as I and most people do, that informed citizens should be a goal in our societies, why is it that in developed countries -with the possible exception of Japan- authorities have been neglecting actions to train citizens in emergency prevention and response? I don’t have the answer, but something should be done soon if we don´t want to hear again “our response emergency protocols should be re-evaluated”.

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