Effective Communication: a Vital link to emergency preparedness

The following information was received and entered into the system by: Madwatch Alerts, Category: Community Alert, Notification type: Current Affairs, Location: PNG
Date / Time: 20/02/19

What happened: IT is now evident that an effective communications system has been missing during the many disasters that have hit the country. Communications is one of the most important, and oftentimes overlooked, part of any highly efficient disaster response.

From past reports, there is a need for effective information exchange between information sources, emergency managers and those impacted by the disaster or emergency event.

A disaster stakeholders’ workshop last week in Kokopo highlighted the need for a good communication systems to transmit critical information. That is something missing not in East New Britain but the whole country.

Disaster communication must be from ‘end-to-end’ and easily clear. We concur with National Disaster Center assistant director (risk management), Kaigabu Kamnancy, that early warning system is not only about the communication of information from one end to another.

It means getting the information and transmitting that information into actionable activities. It has to be from end to end.
It has to be effective and in real time. Any information from the disaster office to the targeted area (and vice versa) should be in real time. Once the information is received, those in the targeted areas should know exactly what it means and spread it in their own little networks so they are safe.

The East New Britain provincial disaster office has plans to get on board a programme to establish a communications systems in disaster-prone areas. We raise here the importance of an established rescue coordination centre. A rescue coordination centre is a primary search and rescue facility in a country that is staffed by supervisory personnel, and equipped for coordinating and controlling search and rescue operations.

The centre would have the services of Fire Service, Defence Force, police, National Maritime Safety Authority, National Road Safety Authority, Accident Investigation Commission, Health and others thrown together in times of accidents, disaster and national emergencies to search, rescue and save lives.

Provinces like East New Britain can have their communications system linked with that of the rescue coordination centre. This also means all maritime provinces must make it their priority to ensure all boat operators carry a radio in the vessel before going out to sea, as required under the Small Craft Act. All boats must carry a maritime approved hand-held VHF (very high frequency) radio, to communicate with their provincial disaster centres if they encounter any misfortunes at sea.

They must also have other safety equipment such as life jackets. The maritime-approved hand-held VHF can tell your location, It has a global maritime distress and safety button at the back which you can press when encountering problems at sea. BAny vessel nearby can pick it up and assist.

All disaster emergencies and crisis events are by nature chaotic and highly dynamic, creating physical, emotional, and social disorder. In such crisis events and emergencies, communications is critical at all phases of disaster management. Communications during emergencies incorporates a wide range of measures to manage risks to communities and the environment.

There must be a number of communication channels so when one fails, others can be used. Communication during and immediately after a disaster situation is an important component of response and recovery, in that it connects affected people, families, and communities with first responders, support systems, and other family members. Reliable and accessible communication and information systems also is key to a community’s resilience.

Article from The NATIONAL

Pictures from ENB Disaster Watch

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