COPING WITH NATURAL DISASTERS: THE ROLE OF LOCAL HEALTH PERSONNEL AND THE COMMUNITY
( By A Working Guide (WHO - OMS, 1989) )

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Chapter 5.Exercises and activities to promote community preparedness

The community’s emergency committee, in collaboration with the schools, local associations (such as the local branches of the Red Cross) and community services, can organize simulation and other exercises and disaster-preparedness activities. This work should make allowance for the local culture and habits and if it is to be effective must not be of an artificial nature. Each potentially real situation must engender appropriate activities arising from discussion and the participation of the members of families from the community.

Work on ascertaining risks and resources lends itself very well to creating a series of opportunities for carrying out activities that will be useful for community life and at the same time function as exercises in disaster preparedness. Further examples of preparedness activities include:


· exercises in first aid: how to extricate, give first aid to, and transport injured persons, etc.,

· exercises in providing temporary shelter: organization of camps for temporary shelter in event of a disaster,

· sanitation exercises: installation and management of water-supply points and latrines, controlled refuse disposal, etc.,

· guided visits to volcanoes, seismological observatories, dykes, civil protection centres (fire stations, forest warden posts, etc.), factories, stores of dangerous materials, sites exposed to risk,

· dummy runs and practice alerts organized by the local authority,

· strengthening of flimsy structures in accordance with the programmes of the local administration; groups of dwellings can be strengthened with the help of voluntary workers, schoolchildren, etc.,

· flood protection (various means of ensuring that a watercourse does not overflow its banks);

· information (exhibitions of drawings, lectures, photographs, films on disaster preparedness);

· training of groups of volunteers available to help the community emergency committee in activities when a disaster strikes and afterwards.




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