Earthquakes, Ebola, 9-1-1 failures, and more


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The Ebola outbreak ravaging West Africa and putting the rest of the world on alert is only the latest example underscoring what any experienced emergency manager already knows: effectively communicating risk during a serious event is often the key to minimizing threat, coordinating partners, and maintaining trust with our citizens. But if communication often holds the key to success during a serious event, it also is among the complex and difficult challenges we face.

The Health Emergency Risk Communication Workshop brings together emergency managers, health experts, and communicators to confront the challenge of communicating risk during a complex emergency. Led by international practitioners from The Warning Project -- a non-profit which promotes better emergency risk communication -- the session builds from the latest academic research and uses interactive technology to maximize the learning experience. Emergency Management Training Newsletter subscribers qualify for a discounted registration fee: Save $100: use discount code "emt" when you register.

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A few months ago we brought you a report on how hackers caused a DOS - denial of service - at a 9-1-1 centre in Washington State. The annual DEFF CON 22 hacker conference in Las Vegas two weeks ago had a session titled 'Hacking 911: Adventures in Disruption, Destruction, and Death'. The presenters reviewed the archaic nature of the 911 dispatch system and its failure to evolve

The systems are vulnerable and emergency services need to have business continuity plans in place for the 9-1-1 system as well as their dispatch systems.


Ok, if you were expecting something salacious about Vegas sorry to disappoint you. On a recent business trip to Vegas I had the opportunity to tour headquarters and the Downtown Project, a revitalization of the downtown core lead by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. In a presentation Tony pressed the point that currently 50% of all humans live in cities and by 2034 it will be 75%. This urbanization will require an expanded and more robust infrastructure to maintain it. It also creates greater inter-dependencies between people, technology, and the resources to maintain a healthy and safe environment. The increasing numbers will create a greater dependence by individuals on the systems and infrastructure to sustain the communities. This creates greater challenges and potentially much larger impacts in the event of a major crisis. Emergency managers must be at the forefront to assist in the hazard identification, risk analysis, prevention and mitigation strategies as urban centres grow. It is also a reminder for us as individuals that we need to be prepared at home to support ourselves for at least 72 hours. A simple start: the 72 hour kit.


We are currently working on an earthquake exercise for three municipalities in British Columbia to take place later this fall.

An earthquake this past weekend in the Napa Valley reminded us of the real potential of the earthquake threats.

While the Napa earthquake was moderate at a 6.0 on the Richter Scale it still resulted in hundreds being injured (fortunately no fatalities) and more than $1 Billion in damage. An earthquake in the 7.0 to 7.5 magnitude, which is anticipated, can have devastating consequences, both in terms of the human impact as well as the damage caused to property and infrastructure.

Planning, mitigation strategies (earthquake resistant buildings and infrastructure), training, and exercises are all key components to minimizing the impact and coordinating the response when the "big one" occurs.

An interesting CBC story on earthquake issues in Vancouver:

Photo: Emergency Management professionals in British Columbia being well prepared for all types of emergencies.


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