Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference ....
I wanted to start with that quote, as disaster prevention means that we must first recognize our weakness against the force of nature. We can be the more prepared nation in the world and yet all the efforts we can do to prevent the effects of disasters are minimal compared to the force of Mother Nature.
I would ask first, that all people and countries of the world make a collective prayer and give support to this great nation of Japan, they will reemerge and show the world their greatness, but on the way, they are leaving us many lessons to be learned.
Disaster management is the set of political and administrative decisions and operational actions carried out in different stages of a disaster in the face to anticipate and to give response of it.
The intervention levels cover the stages before, during and after the disaster and we could divided into:
a) Prevention activities that are taken to provide permanent protection against disasters, preventing the occurrence of a triggering catastrophe and / or reducing its intensity to avoid causing damage and victims.
b) Disaster preparedness, which is the creation of various mechanisms for both the prediction of disasters and rapid and effective response when they are triggered, so that they can minimize human and material damage, it also facilitates subsequent rehabilitation interventions . These include early warning systems, contingency plans and vulnerability maps.
c) Mitigation, which is measures that are running when a disaster is starting to take shape, to mitigate its impact.
d) Emergency assistance (relief) is exceptional measures to find and rescue the survivors and fulfill their basic needs (shelter, water, food and medical care). These are conducted in the emergency phase, for example in the period immediately following a sudden disaster (e.g. earthquake), or at the latest and most serious stage of a slow onset disaster (such as drought), when the capacities of the population are more overwhelmed and lives are threatened.
e) Rehabilitation, which is formed by the actions and decisions taken after the disaster, towards the recovery of the living conditions of the population, with actions on many fronts (economic, social, institutional, etc.), while facilitating necessary adjustments to the changes caused by a disaster and lay the groundwork for future development.
f) Reconstruction, are the actions taken to fully restore a community after a period of rehabilitation after a disaster.
The primary responsibilities for disaster management rests with the national governments and ultimately to local governments (municipalities), but developing countries often confront a shortage of material and technical resources, for that reason they need international cooperation.
Disaster management requires the use of specific criteria and techniques developed, which vary depending on the type of crisis intervention, whose diversity and complexity makes very important the use of quality tools for analysis and minimization of impact, and the participation of professionals who manage these tools.
It is very essential to analyze data, and know how to seek adequate information to enable the best intervention at every stage of disaster, learn how to do Ishikawa analysis and review all the factors involved in a disaster, the use of key factors will be very useful (Materials, Manpower, Methods, Machinery, Environment), to analyze the disaster as a process with all the factors involved.
Use the PDCA cycle (Plan, Do, Check and Action) in each phase prioritizing save lives is crucial. Learn from what happened before and take action to minimize future impacts, through working groups. Making Pareto Analysis of the main risks and take action according to their likelihood of occurrence.
We have to remember that the unexpected can always happen and now in the world everything is related, and what happens in a distant part of the world can lead to very serious consequences in another, which is what has been seen in the logistics chain with Japan earthquake.
How can we work to curtail the destruction of natural disasters? How do we prepare and plan for natural disasters? How can we mitigate risk?
These questions involve seeking information and taking preventive measures according to our available resources and learn from what has happened elsewhere. In Ecuador and Latin America there is much to do and we definitely need to improve our plans.
How can we help to accelerate recovery efforts, outreach and social services? What are the efficiency and improvement lessons that can apply here and elsewhere?
Resources are always scarce and the best use of them is essential to understand the need for proper implementation of quality tools at every stage we help minimize the impacts.
Finally always remember that human beings will always be small at the force of nature.