On January 23nd, 2017, many Southern Vancouver Island residents were awoken to a Tsunami warning at 3:00am following a 7.9 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Alaska. However, many residents slept through the alert, if they were alerted at all. Dr. Robin Cox, Director of the RbD Lab spoke with CHEK news about the importance of preparedness in the event of an earthquake or tsunami, both at the individual and policy level.
In interviews, Dr. Cox raised the point that while the systems that are in place work, we need to do more to be prepared for these types of events. She suggests having an emergency kit at home but to also consider having one in your vehicle or at work as well. Beyond this, Dr. Cox reminds us that being prepared “includes having emergency kits, having a plan, knowing where to evacuate to, and knowing what sort of risk areas [you’re] in.”
While sirens were used to alert residents in different parts of Vancouver Island, adding more sirens to risk areas may be a beneficial step forward following this tsunami scare. As Dr. Cox explains, “We have many examples in other parts of the province and in the world where sirens are used really effectively to warn people. They have to be accompanied by education and awareness campaigns so people understand what the sirens are for and what to do in response to them.”
Dr. Cox also highlights that the fear of panic around implementing sirens or alert systems actually falls into a myth as to how people typically respond to disaster. As she explains, “We do know that in disasters, most people do not panic, there’s not this movie version of mass panic when a disaster happens. People tend to help each other, they tend to listen to orders and information when they have it.” Therefore, including information or education awareness with the implementation of siren and alert systems could be a positive step forward on Vancouver Island, following this tsunami scare.
You can see the full versions of Dr. Robin Cox’s interviews by clicking the following links;
The RbD was instrumental in supporting Public Safety Canada’s (PSC) recent consultation with youth on the development of a new, comprehensive EM strategy for Canada. The virtual consultation was held July 6th and engaged youth around questions concerning how to help shape strategies to support a culture of disaster preparedness and resilience, and improve disaster mitigation and response.
The consultation is one of a number of consultations with stakeholders that include emergency managers, government representatives, Indigenous Peoples, first responders, and critical infrastructure owners and operators. The decision to develop a new EM strategy responds to a recognized shift in Canada’s disaster risk profile, characterized by the increasing frequency, magnitude and cost of disasters. The initiative acknowledges the need for greater involvement and investment in emergency management in ways that increase our shared ability to understand and assess these risks in order to strengthen Canada’s collective capacity to better prevent/mitigate against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies.
Public Safety Canada reached out to Dr. Cox and the RbD lab to help identify and engage youth from across Canada in a virtual focus group. Over 20 young people from across the country agreed to be involved. Participating young people offered insights from on a range of questions that focused on how to support greater collaboration among different sectors of Canadian society; ideas for improving risk communication; and suggestions for initiatives that would improve the capacity of individuals, families, communities and organizations to reduce risks and increase resilience.Youth who could not participate will have an opportunity to contribute through their written responses to questions p0sed.
“This kind of consultation with youth is all too rare,” says Cox, adding that “it provides another great example of young people’s commitment to contributing to Canada’s disaster resilience and the valuable expertise and perspectives they bring to this topic.”
The feedback from participating youth will be added to the information gathered from other stakeholders and will inform PSC’s development of the new strategy which they hope to share with the Canadian public in the spring of 2018.