Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, CDC, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Floods, Health & Welfare, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

What is the “Holistic Approach” to Disaster Recovery and Planning?

Group gathered around a table, everyone holding a puzzle piece
The Holistic Approach to Disaster Planning & Recovery Brings everyone to the table.

What do we mean by a “holistic” approach to disaster recovery and planning? I’ve heard of holistic dog food, but even that isn’t good enough for me. I demand ground rib roast!! In broad terms, a holistic approach simply means the properties of a system cannot be described by its separate parts—the system as a whole influences the parts. Just consider me. A brilliant white smile and thunderous bark don’t define me. You have to look at the whole package.

With disaster recovery and planning, considering a disaster as a whole system promotes broader planning and better cooperation among different groups. For example, with flood planning, engineers could have procedures in place to divert water toward a historical or shopping district area instead of a  parking lot or open area capable of more safely handling overflow. If the building flood planners fail to converse with other members of the city utilities, emergency responders, neighboring properties, etc, they might make plans that would cause more damage to surrounding assets and possibly their own property. A holistic approach brings more information to the table, allowing better planned prevention as well as recovery. I like “bringing things to the table” as well. Pork chops. Chicken gravy. A squirrel.

An example of the need for a broader approach can be seen in the aftermath of the recent Japan earthquakes. As the production capacity of many Japanese plants is rebuilt and comes back online, segments of the Japanese economy were captured by other countries following the disaster. A holistic approach would have demanded better integration between emergency management teams and economic development individuals, who could have worked together to focus efforts on top economic priorities. This would have kept needed resources in the area following the disaster. I like to have integration with several groups, including the local butcher shop, a tennis ball manufacturer, and my favorite salon. That’s synergy!

For some areas of the world that don’t frequently experience disasters, complacency can prevent the formation of a holistic approach. For me, complacency is vitally important. Somebody has to occupy that grassy spot in the sun! Paradoxically, a major disaster can also slow down the development of holistic methods, as individual stakeholders often feel repeated disaster occurrences are less likely, despite the fact that this is not necessarily true.

Key benefits of the holistic approach:

  • Better communication is encouraged when different agencies or groups confront disasters together. Resources or labor can be pooled together avoiding costly duplications of efforts. If disaster recovery is too fragmented, then many cases of “left hand not talking to the right” can occur. Do people’s hands literally talk to each other? Does this occur during sleep? Why can’t humans have four legs like a normal animal!?
  • Major disasters don’t discriminate. They affect large swaths of individuals and businesses. A holistic approach encourages a true community response, where actions are taken by the community for the community, with less emphasis on special interest groups or people with hidden agendas. An example of this is the rebuilding efforts in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, where groups worked together to clean debris and save houses as part of a broader longer-term affordable housing plan.
  • Holistic approaches mean a country, state, or city is more resilient to the effects of disaster and able to quickly regain former capacities. After my doghouse was ruined, I rebuilt. Now it can withstand a Category 5 hurricane!
  • The holistic approach covers mental and emotional states instead of just the physical safety of disaster victims. Such focus allows individuals to quickly return to society, providing an economic benefit to their immediate area.

For disaster recovery and prevention, a holistic method means more than just cooperation. It’s also a way to get more out of the efforts of every group and individual, which is a stark example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Building Evacuation, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Emergency Evacuations, Health & Welfare, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

Obscure Disasters Can Pose a Major Risk

fire, sky, water, earth pics
Are you prepared for each and every type of disaster?

With the Japan earthquake, frequent hurricanes, and massive tornadoes, many are wondering if we should expect more and bigger disasters. Major disasters by their very nature are unpredictable, which further enforces the need to imagine worst-case scenarios when implementing or rehearsing disaster response efforts. My worst-case scenario is when “Air Bud” came out on DVD. Worst. Movie. Ever.

The effect of some disasters, such as floods and hurricanes, can be minimized by advanced planning. For instance, governments can build levees and coastal swamp areas can be left undeveloped to provide natural flood protection. If the origins of a disaster come from beyond our planet or miles under the surface, then prevention is impossible, and preparation and planning are the only possible means of recourse.

Solar Flares are a known sun phenomena that affect communications on earth. In the past, such interruptions were temporary and were limited to certain types of devices and services. However, scientists who study solar storm patterns now contend that the severity of storms is cyclical and we are now entering an intense phase. (Let me get this straight, we can predict storms on that big glowing ball of fire, but you can’t tell me if my afternoon walk will be rained out!?).

  • NASA officials have equated a large solar storm to a “bolt of lightning” that could damage electronics and communications’ equipment around the globe.
  • Solar flares dramatically change the earth’s magnetic field, which could cause serious consequences for satellites, computers, handheld devices and myriad other items. My magnetic field gives me a great sense of direction. I was once 126 miles from home and was able to tell the limo driver exact directions to get me back.
  • If international power grids fail, potential losses are estimated to be in the trillions.
  •  Solar storms are monitored by the appropriately named Space Weather Prediction Center, which is run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. Make sure you’re prepared for each type.

On the west coast, scientists are concerned about what they refer to as an ARKstorm, a massive storm that dumps rain on California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada for up to two weeks straight. The storms pull so much heat and moisture, that they develop “atmospheric rivers.” Such rainfall amounts would produce massive flooding in the California central valley and in major metropolitan areas. It would simply be a case of too much water with nowhere to go.

  • Such a storm is based upon historical precedent, with winter rains in 1861 and 1862 leaving some parts of central California completely impassable. In San Francisco, nearly 30 inches of rain was reported. That’s taller than me!
  • The USGS offers a video titled “This is ARKstorm” that some might consider to be a little over the top. But it does clearly describe the possible effects.
  • Projected damage estimates are pegged at several hundred billion dollars. If my doghouse is washed away, somebody’s calling FEMA.

Yellowstone Caldera” might sound like the latest trendy micro-brew. But it actually refers to a potential “super volcano” that could erupt in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone sits on a “hotspot,” which is an area where molten mantle rock moves towards the surface over time. As it moves closer, it can become trapped, and needs release of pressure to prevent catastrophic explosions.

  •  The latest eruption occurred only 640,000 years ago, which is a very long time compared to a human or canine lifetime, but a relatively recent event geologically speaking.
  •  Half of the United States could be covered in ash.
  • Global cooling would result from atmospheric sun-blocking particles, restricting agriculture and leading to food shortages. Umm, not good.

The existence of such mega-disasters underscores the broader point of knowing there are various risks and that it is necessary to do your best to plan ahead and prepare for unforeseen contingencies. While you certainly shouldn’t live your life in a potential state of abject fear, it is important to take time to consider the unknown.

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.

Posted in BE SAFE, Biological Warfare, Disaster Preparedness, Earthquakes, Health & Welfare, Terrorism, Tsunamis, Uncategorized, Version 2.0

How to Prepare for a Nuclear Disaster

Person in Haz Mat Suit Holding a Glowing Ball
There are lots of resources available for preparing for radioactive events.

All of us at RJWestmore, Inc. want to extend our sympathies to those who were affected by the 8.9 earthquake and resulting tsunamis that ravaged Japan last Friday. Sources report the death toll at a staggering 2,800. With thousands of people remaining missing, the total number of casualties is expected to exceed 10,000.

As if the earthquake and tsunami disaster were not enough, Japanese nuclear scientists are warning of a possible related reactor-explosion. Shortly after the earthquakes and tsunami, explosions are said to have occurred when zirconium alloy casings of reactor fuel rods were exposed to air, causing the rods to overheat and release hydrogen gas. I’m not sure what a reactor fuel rod is. But it sounds like something you wouldn’t want to expose to air.

With a second hydrogen blast on Monday morning destroying the outer walls of one of the reactor units, Japanese nuclear specialists are struggling to cool three affected units at the Fukushima-1 Nuclear Power Plant. The events have the Far East bracing for a potential large-scale disaster.

Cooling systems are said to be malfunctioning, and, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), the plant is in danger of a meltdown, though they guarantee that, “There is no possibility of a Chernobyl-style accident at the site.” The events have led Japan to appeal to the United States for help.

In the midst of this news, it is timely that we take the opportunity to advise our clients and friends about steps to take in order to prepare for and react to potential disasters of this magnitude.

All RJWestmore Training System subscribers have proprietary access to life-saving information about effectively dealing with, among other things, both tsunami and radiation-related incidents.

Four Charts Available to RJWestmore Safety Training Subscribers
We've got lots of resources for subscribers of the RJWestmore Training System.

Like jerky treats and dog chow, info of this kind is invaluable.

Another valuable resource is offered by FEMA—An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness (IS-22), called: Are You Ready? FEMA’s most comprehensive source on individual, family, and community preparedness, the PDF provides current and up-to-date disaster preparedness information to reference if there is, among other things, an imminent terrorist or strategic nuclear attack threat. The downloadable booklet includes the following sections relative to earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear accidents:

Why Prepare

Basic Preparedness

Getting Informed

Emergency Planning and Checklists

Assemble Disaster Supplies Kit

Shelter

Hazard Specific Preparedness

Practicing and Maintaining Your Plan

Natural Hazards

Earthquakes

Landslide and Debris Flow (Mudslide)

Tsunamis

Technological Hazards

Hazardous Materials Incidents

Nuclear Power Plants

Terrorism

General Information about Terrorism

Explosions

Biological Threats

Chemical Threats

Nuclear Blast

Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD)

Recovering from Disaster

Another great resource is available from the CDC. So be sure to check it out.

Familiarize yourself with the FEMA and CDC information and, if you are a safety training subscriber, the RJWestmore materials. When faced by a potential nuclear incident, take these preliminary safety steps:

1.     Decide to Stay or Go.

First, you must decide first if you need to prepare where you are or attempt evacuation. The nature of the threat, your prior preparations, and your confidence in your sources of information should inform your decision. I think I would try to stay with my wife and JR in our doghouse if at all possible. But I guess I won’t know for sure until we are faced with the real-life scenario. If you know that you do not plan to stay at your own home or place of business or in the general vicinity, see step #2:

2.     Evacuate?

If you are considering evacuation, make sure that leaving your current location is worth the associated risk. You won’t want to get stuck between your current location and destination, as returning will not be easy. If you fail reach your destination, you may be exposed to nuclear fallout without shelter.

3.     Delegate!

Because time is of the essence, quickly delegate and assign tasks to various adult family members and/or colleagues. Your first priorities should be handling any medical emergencies and arranging for food, shelter, water and emergency provisions. And dog treats!

When a disaster of any scale strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.0 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information and remember to BE SAFE.