While overall the response has been pretty good I am sure that there will be some lessons learnt, and I hope that the shake up will allow some thought to be given in a number of areas:
- The USAR TFs and RTs have been deployed in mass for the first time, and they have shown that the system works. Hopefully the Ministry Civil Defence & Emergency Management (CDEM) and the Fire Service can get together and take some leadership and sort out some real clear direction, funding and support for this initiative.
- On a similar basis the Territorial Local Authorities (TLAs) that have Response Teams need to look hard at what they do to keep these dedicated volunteers, by making sure that they are well trained, equipped and looked after
- The Public at large needs to wake up and take notice. The Civil Defence systems cannot look after everyone in the first few days. The messages have been out there, so why do so few have Emergency Kits, Checklists and Plans in place. Come on people "Get Ready - Get Through". How can the messages be delivered more effectively, maybe the CDEM structure needs to make more use of Social Media rather than traditional.
- And also for the public, and the CDEM agencies, after the Quake there is a huge awareness of Emergencies and of what Volunteers have been doing, so it is a great time to recruit and train volunteers for the future. Make the most of the opportunity.
- Many businesses also need a bit of a shake up. I have heard a few stories of businesses that will have difficulties, because they lost vital business systems and information when buildings collapsed or were demolished. Businesses need to do very careful risk analysis and have a suitable Disaster Recovery plan in place.
- Not entirely related to the Quake, but national and local CDEM organisations have been looking at warning systems for some time, and in general have found that the current SMS TXT options do not work effectively. There is an alternative using Cell Tower Broadcast techniques, which allows localised warning broadcasts based on the coverage area of cell sites in specific areas (such as along the coastal areas for a Tsunami warning etc) However the cellular providers will not meet the costs to implement this technology. In the USA this technology is required by law by next year to allow for warnings about Terror attacks etc. The CMAS system exists that can be used. Should the providers have to meet all of the cost, probably not, should this alerting requirement be a part of regulatory requirements similar to 111, the KiwiShare etc, probably. Again hopefully the Shake Up will allow some progress in this area.