Exercise your emergency plan. Often.

For a good while it was my task to imagine, research, write and execute plausible worst-case scenarios for everything from natural disasters to pandemics to terror attacks.

My little outfit was called Apocalypse (noun) and we were the in-house bad-stuff-no-one-wants-to-consider creators for many executive-level exercises on this little globe of ours.

My colleagues and mentors would serve as reality checkers – ‘Let me see the science research on this one’ or ‘Did you actually check the ventilation system in the Governor’s offices?’

The answer to that last one was, “Yes.” I spent a great deal of time on the ground, researching the areas of interest and doing time-date-weather checks to ensure we had every detail down right.

Occasionally, the scenarios we crafted were so realistic they caused raised eyebrows among the most senior command staff who would be running through them as part of large-scale tabletop and/or functional exercises.

Sometimes they’d ask my handlers how we knew the exact details of what they thought were closely guarded secrets. “Research. And did we mention – Hal’s a foreign national?” was the reply they seemed to enjoy the most.

Many of our scenarios resulted in major changes to the emergency planning process – and more than a few times – were the basis for large-scale awareness/planning programs.

Colleagues who were part of the process would call and say, “Did you see the new DHS directives? Look familiar? Good job.”

Those immersive environments included high-def media produced by some of the most creative minds in the world. We were playing for keeps. And play we did.

Unfortunately, every now and again, a worst-case scenario would play out in real life with casualty counts measured in real lives altered forever.

I take solace in the fact we worked hard to try to get people to imagine what happened if all the ‘What ifs’ fell into place… and made the scenarios so real we captured their imaginations – forcing them to work through every aspect of their response in a controlled albeit extremely high stress environment.

No regrets. Only the occasional rattling reminder that real-life often is far worse than what we considered to be the worst-case scenario.

Be well. Practice big medicine.*

Hal Newman, Executive Director, NEMRC

*Big Medicine = the right people working together at the right time will be Big Medicine. I’ve been saying ‘Be well. Practice big medicine’ for as long as I can remember. It is my own very personal version of ‘Sawu Bona’, the Zulu greeting which means ‘I see you’… I see all of you, I see your good works, I see the difference you are making in the world.

Bahamas – NEMA facilitates training on Japanese Grant Aid disaster management gear

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is pleased to receive the remainder of equipment which is part of the $1.8 million Japanese Grant Aid project to The Bahamas in support of the country’s disaster management programme. The equipment includes four balloon lights, eight water pumps, 40 VHF base radio stations, and 200 hand-held radios.

Following donation of equipment by the Government of Japan to aid The Bahamas’ disaster management programme, training sessions on use of the equipment were held December 17-20, 2018 at NEMA on Gladstone Road.  Pictured far left is Director of NEMA Captain Stephen Russell along with Japanese training instructors and participants.  (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

Some 25 staff from NEMA, personnel of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Ministry of Works underwent training, December 17-20, in basic operation and maintenance of the equipment.

Expert trainers were Derrick Holder and Ronald Alleyne from Barbados, and Takuro Nagai, Manager of the Technical Department and Hiroshi Ohbo, Manager/ Service and Maintenance Section of COMFORCE Japan.

In October 2018, the Government of The Bahamas through NEMA during an Official Handover Ceremony accepted from the Government of Japan a wheel crane, a tractor head truck, along with two 40-foot trailers, two freezer containers and two flatbed cargo trucks.

Over the next six months, NEMA, in collaboration with its public and private partners will aim to install a base radio and a number of hand-held radios in each of the Family Island-designated Emergency Operations Centers (EOC), to support the local Disaster Consultative Committees with their emergency communications.

The water pumps and balloon lights will be strategically placed among the three Emergency Relief Warehouses in Grand Bahama for the Northern Bahamas, New Providence for the Central Bahamas, and Great Inagua for the Southern Bahamas to be readily available for use in those areas, as necessary.

“Again the National Emergency Management Agency is pleased to see this programme successfully executed,” said Director of NEMA Captain Stephen Russell.

The programme commenced in April 2016 with the signing of a Grant Agreement, the formation of a local committee for the product selection and specifications, the tendering process and production of goods in Japan, and the eventual shipping to The Bahamas. This also included the support of two local companies –Five Stars Brokers and Four K’s Cargo — in clearing the shipment and delivering them to NEMA on Gladstone Road.

“The equipment and training should tremendously enhance the country’s disaster preparedness and response mechanism, particularly in the areas of inter-island communication, logistics and transportation,” said Captain Russell.

Webinar – Learning from the Flint Water Crisis: Legal Implications and Community Public Health Impacts

Learning from the Flint Water Crisis: Legal Implications and Community Public Health Impacts

Source:Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Network for Public Health Law

Date Published: 5/15/2018

Format: Video or Multimedia

Annotation: This one-hour, 16-minute webinar discusses the ongoing public health impacts of the water crisis in the Flint community. Speakers explore the complex legal arrangements at the heart of the crisis, including public health, safe drinking water, and emergency manager laws; review recommended changes to the relevant laws and their implementation; and detail a community-level response to the crisis.


Study – Building Back Better: Understanding How Health Considerations Are Incorporated into Local Post-Disaster Recovery Implementation

Building Back Better: Understanding How Health Considerations Are Incorporated into Local Post-Disaster Recovery Implementation

Source:University of Colorado at Boulder, Natural Hazards Center

Date Published: 2018

Format: Text

Annotation: This study examines the extent to which communities are aiming to build resilience during the disaster recovery process. Researchers conducted key informant interviews with local health departments and one office of emergency management to determine if and how their communities are incorporating public health considerations into the visioning, planning, implementation, and assessment phases of disaster recovery.


NZ – Wellington Earthquake National Initial Response Plan version 2.0 released

The Wellington Earthquake National Initial Response Plan (WENIRP) has been developed to assist emergency managers, and responding agencies, to respond effectively to this complex emergency scenario. It is a Supporting Plan to the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan 2015 (National CDEM Plan 2015), and builds on the arrangements in the National CDEM Plan 2015.

Find more information here: Wellington Earthquake National Initial Response Plan