Planning for Disaster: Public Safety Leadership and Japan

This post is written by Cindy Notobartolo, a student at the Division of Public Safety Leadership. We had asked for some thoughts on the public safety issues shown when catastrophe’s such as the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan occur. This is what she had to say.

All public safety planners have been taught to look at disaster planning with an all hazards approach. Because each disaster is unique, I have always imagined a plan as the skeleton and individual responses as the muscles, ligaments and skin.

We divide our Hazard Vulnerability Assessments into three categories:

  • Naturally occurring events such as blizzards, floods and earthquakes
  • Technological events such as electrical failure, supply shortages and information systems failures
  • Human related events such as mass casualty incidents, biological terrorism or civil disturbance

We weigh the probability, severity and risk. After writing our plans based on this analysis, we exercise and perfect those plans.

What happens when a region or nation faces sequential disasters of apocalyptic proportions as has the nation of Japan? What planning can possibly prepare for such catastrophe? Based on a previous massive earthquake, the whole nation of Japan exercises their response plan annually.

Dr. Harnett’s teaching about resilience is modeled after the behavior of the leaders of Japan and Incident Commanders. They model hope, order, strength, discipline and teamwork.

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