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MARCH 23, 2012


“Institutions should not be the victim in disasters, but a part of the solution”

3rd Symposium On Institutional Management Of Emergency Situations (ALARM 3), which we have organized in light of the experiences we have gained during Japan and Van Earthquakes and where we aimed at taking a humble step towards creating a society that is better prepared for such disasters, was conducted on Friday, March 23, 2012, at Lütfi Kırdar International Congress and Exhibition Hall in Istanbul.

During ALARM 3 Symposium, issues such as what actions should be taken by the leading institutions of national economy to be prepared against emergencies caused by disasters –with earthquake having the top priority–, risks they would encounter, minimization of such risks and management of emergency cases were explained by specialists to 248 managers from 128 Public and Private Sector Institutions.  Considering the fact, revealed as a consequence of the statistical study made during the symposium, that the participant institutions had 218,358 employees, the significance of trainings in organizational dimension was emphasized.

Openening speeches of the Symposium were made by Dr. Fuat Oktay, Turkish Prime Ministry, Head of Disaster and Emergency Management Department, and Umut Dinçşahin, GEA Coordinator.

During the Symposium, which was organized with the purpose of preparing the society for and raising awareness on disasters, specialists of the subject shared their knowledge and experiences with company managers to support the organizations to be able to play an active role in disaster management.

“The Most Important Step towards Preparedness for Disasters: Information Sharing”

In his speech during the opening of the Symposium, Umut Dinçşahin, GEA Coordinator, emphasized that all organizations must be a part of disaster management and said “We know that if organization managers give importance to be prepared for disasters and take actions in this direction, employees would also get involved in such activities.  This growing chain would be one of the most important parts of disaster management.”

Stating they have observed that following the rescue operations they had performed after the earthquakes in Turkey and elsewhere in the world, the pain went through during the disaster had been transformed into experience and transferred in the form of information, Dinçşahin continued, “Sharing of knowledge and information is the most important step for preparedness for disasters… With this 3rd Symposium we have organized, we aimed at taking a humble step towards a society that is more conscious and aware of disasters.”

Speaking on organizational risk analysis following Dinçşahin, Richard Gordon, Manager of UK Bournemouth University Disaster Management Center, indicated that there are limits for what governments and governmental institutions can do about disaster management, and said “The need of companies for determining the potential risks, which they may encounter during disasters occurring due to nature or human activities, for their employees, properties, reputation and operational continuity, has reached such a vital level it had never reached before.

25 Precaution Suggestions from Nakahama

Speaking of the Major Japan Earthquake occurred in 2011, Yoshikazu Nakahama, General Secretary of AICAT, discussed about what issues should be taken care of to reduce the impacts and damages that a disaster in the close future may cause.

Nakahama also shared his suggestions for 25 significant basic precautions, which may be taken by families and organizations, with the participants.  The first in his 25 item list, was the issue of earthquake resistance of the buildings.  Indicating that the majority of 6 thousand people lost their lives during theKobeearthquake, which only lasted for 10 seconds, died under the collapsed buildings, Nakahama pointed out that the necessary measures must be taken and repairs must be done to enhance the earthquake resistance of the existing homes and offices.

Emphasizing that people should avoid from placing tall or glassware or similar  furniture in their bedrooms and take precautions to prevent the furniture and articles from tumbling down and the things contained inside from being thrown out, the Japanese Specialist mentioned about the significance of cooperation between the society, private sector and government for preventing disasters.

“Risks at Offices Can Be Taken under Control”

Evaluating the architectural risks of organizations, Asst.Prof. Zeynep Gül Ünal, Vice President of Yıldız Technical University, Department of Architecture, stated that a significant portion of architectural risks in the offices are controllable, that the determination of potential risks to be exposed to during disasters is the first step in the efforts for reducing damage, and that a risk analysis must definitely be made for every workplace.  Ünal emphasized the significance of this issue during her speech: “Places where you spend most of your working hours may be your savior or your grim reaper”.

During his speech, Marg Verbeek, Former President of US International Disaster Management Union, shared his knowledge and experience on developing an evacuation plan in organizations for emergency cases, and indicated that organizations should deal with the issue of how to plan the emergency handling and evacuations in the workplace in case of a disaster. He suggested that the preparation of an evacuation plan, instructing a safe collective transfer of the employees to a safe and secure location, should come in the first place.