EM Forum Presentation October 13, 2010
Learning from Disasters Abroad
October 13th - International Day for Disaster Reduction
Ellis M. Stanley, Sr., CEM
Director of Western Emergency Management Services
The following has been prepared from a transcription of the recording. The complete slide set (Adobe PDF) may be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/Stanley/LessonsFromChileEIIP.pdf for ease of printing. Since most of the slides are photos, only a few are referenced below in the body of the transcript.
[Welcome / Introduction]
Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone. Welcome once again to EMforum.org. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Moderator today. We are very glad you could join us.
Today we are observing the annual International Day for Disaster Reduction by taking a look at the recent earthquake disasters in Chile and Haiti to see what lessons we can take away to become more resilient here at home.
Now it is my pleasure and privilege to introduce todays guest: Ellis Stanley is well known for his leadership in the field of emergency management. After over 35 years as a local emergency manager, he retired from the City of Los Angeles and is now working with Dewberry LLC as Vice President and Director of Western Emergency Management Services.
He recently visited both Chile and Haiti as part of a research delegation following the earthquakes there, and testified before the Senate on findings and recommendations. He has also been to China and Japan for professional exchange programs, and has conducted seminars on emergency and crisis management in Trinidad, Tobago, Israel, Argentina, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Paraguay, Jordon, Turkey, and Taiwan.
Please see todays Background Page for further biographical information and links to related materials. Welcome Ellis, and thank you very much for being with us today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.
Ellis Stanley: Thank you, Amy and Avagene, and good morning, everyone. I think the first thing we should acknowledge and probably congratulate our Chilean friends for the successful mine rescue that is actually ongoing right now. From an international perspective, I need to say, Ive not been to country anywhere, first world or third world, that wasnt able to learn something. I think this trip to Chile will really have a global impact on what we can learn from the standpoint of resiliency, etc.
Im going to go through these slides relatively fast, because there are a lot of slides, but I want to see what lessons we will be able to learn from this. We were in Chile for a couple of weeks. I think the unique part about the whole Chile experience is that it was a multi-disciplinary group. It was not just emergency managers. It was not just fire folks. It was not just response folks. It was private sector, science, medicalwe had volunteer groups. We had about 20 people in the group and that is what made it tremendously successful.
All of us know the details relative to when this thing occurred. What you probably dont know is the impact it actually had12.8 million people were impacted. Seventy-three hospitals were immediately inoperable. Imagine that in your community. Los Angeles even doesnt have that many hospitals they could lose and we could survive from that.
The bridges, the infrastructurethe earth moved three inches off its axis. We lost micro-seconds off a day in the life of those people. One of the things we typically look atwe always want to put monetary value on it. We saw that it was over $8,000,000,000 in monetary losses we had in that.
Immediately after that earthquake came a tsunami. The tsunami was also devastating.
The island you see there is a small island off the coast. We had vacationers there that particular weekend. Whats unique about thatthe lives that were lostmany were whats called "visitors" to the area. The people who live in the areapart of their cultural resiliency says that if an earthquake is large enough to knock you off your feet, move to higher ground.
They did that innately. They did not have to wait for sirens. They did not have to wait for government to tell them what to do. In fact, the original government warning, when it got communications back, said that there was no tsunami. But we know now that it was and the fact that folks did their own thing.
In the same month, we had the Haiti earthquake. Again, the casualties were untold250,000 to 300,000. Lots of homeless folkscommercial buildings, 30,000, collapsed. I didnt say damaged, I said collapsedover 1,500,000 people homeless. Were talking about the capital city, which is Port-au-Prince, and they lost their palace as wella city designed for probably 650,000 had over one million people there.
There were a lot of things going on. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but also their estimated loss was 10 and 14 billion dollars. Haiti is also another lesson we can learn from because the people are really resilient in that they were one of the poorest countries but they still lost so much in that.
What we see is the challenge and opportunitythe largest space population concentrated infrastructure services in Port-au-Prince, lack of empowerment of the private sector, substandard infrastructure, dysfunctional education, and a lot of mistrust in government. Political uncertainty. Elections were delayedthey were delayed, and it didnt matter why.
Also, the fact that politicians wanted to go through Hurricane season without changing anything going on there. When we look at opportunities to provide for resilient housing developmentthey didnt have codes, so that has got to be donecentralized development across the different regions of Haiti.
Everybody only sees Haiti from Port-au-Prince, but Haiti is a much larger country and they actually have opportunities to start building and start infrastructure outside and look at the economys engagement in getting the private sector involved. That is no different than we see here in the United States. That is no different than we saw in Chile.
The new Presidentthey had a change and elections right after thatand they bought into private sector to be able to get things going. To improve education and healthcare systemwe have to do that in the U.S., too, as we have disasters, and engage the Haitians as far as the diaspora, because there are a lot of people here in the United States that can work and have impact on that.
We also see in all of our disasters is that the electric grid and water lines will go down. One of the fortunate things in Chile was they didnt have as many gas fires as you might expect or that we might have here in the United States. A couple of reasons for thatone, they didnt have the gas lines all over the country as we would have here, and many of them had cylinders at their home and they were not interconnected.
That was one of the reasons we did not have it. We all know thisthe loss of communicationsand that is usually the issue. What was so impactful in Chile was the fact that when we asked folks what happened right after the earthquake, they immediately went to three days out when the government got involved. We pressed them to look at what happened when the earth was shaking and when it immediately stopped shaking.
What we found out is that first of all, the culture there says that these are the things you should do. They also have a compulsory military, which means that they have training, whether they think of that as emergency management training or not. They do the things that are necessary, especially when it comes to protecting or looking out for your neighbors in hospitals, etc.
Hospitals were evacuated in 20 minutes. We checked and double-checked that. It really happened. It happened that fast because they didnt wait for bells or alarms or orders to evacuate. When the shaking occurred, the patients that could walk got other patients and children and moved out to the parking lot. When most of the management got there, they were already in place.
The first responders were the people in the neighborhood. All the fire departments in Chile are volunteer. They like it that way. They wouldnt have it any other way. The only paid members of the first responders are the dispatchers. Many of your lawyers, doctors and people in the community are trained as fire fighters and they volunteer and participate in that process.
Anywhere you use whatever means are necessary to get people going. Temporary shelter is whatever you can make do. Fortunately, this was in the summertime, so there were not the difficulties of looking at things that would cause additional discomfort. Field hospitals were set up. The military did come in, because unlike social scientists tell us here in the United States, they did have some looting.
Initially, the cause of some of the looting is in Chile, unlike the United States, people shop on a day to day basis. They dont have a lot of food in their homes. They were worried about the fact that they couldnt get food, so they went in to get initially diapers and food supplies, etc. For some reason, that turned into a full outbreak of looting. We are still working with social scientists to determine why that happened.
Not only did it turn into some looting, but we had a small group that actually, once the stores were empty, they would set the stores on fire and prevent the firefighters from coming in. Were still working on why that was going on, because as social scientists tell us, that is not the norm. It did happenwe were able to verify that. We know that it is one of the things we have to examine a little further in the United States as we look at giving them assistance and looking at what has happened.
Unlike Haiti, debris was removed and reused in Chile. In Haiti, theres not a lot of debris actually removed yetthey are much slower in getting off of square one. Just debris removal is a psychological improvement in a community when you are able to see the devastation and the debris gone. Folks here actually recycled a lot of debris and were able to get things going again.
One of the things that typically happens in communitiesyou look at temporary housing. In Chile, they use wood-framed buildingslumber is one of their largest exports and largest commoditiesso they build these eight-by-twelve houses and that is what they put folks in and they transition them out to different levels of housing, depending on their economic status, and they can move into different sized homes.
These homesit was interesting in many of the camps we went in, they actually had some power going to them and many of them had satellite dishes. That was during the time of the World Cup. As in Chile, as in Haiti, TVs were move in for the World Cup. In one of the photos, on the bottom right, youll see that those houses are in a ravineso we asked about that. The same thing has happened in Haiti just recently. At least five people lost their lives after the rains and flooding came.
Even in the recovery phase, it is important to look at the ability to protect folks and get warning out to people. The families moved in, and as a strong community they set folks up. Schools were nearby so folks could go to schools. Recovery began in earnest. The kids were involved in that part.
The disaster could have been much worse. We all know that. This was at night when nobody was in the office buildings, or at work. It was a full moon, so by evacuating hospitals out into the lot, you could see. It was summer vacation. It was low tide, which means the first wave from the tsunami was not as bad as it could have been. They had a lot of seismic aftershocks following that, but theyve learned to adjust and live with that.
What does that mean for United States, Southern California, and the Central U.S. earthquake? What is means is that we are going to have to examine the disconnect between public expectation and the intent of building codes, not only in Chile, but in California, as well. As Dr. Yadav, a structural engineer here in California says, "A code protects your life, not your investment."
Its important that folks understand that. The code is designed to make sure you can live, but we have to understand that design standards can deteriorate. As we saw in Chile, some of the buildings that collapsed were actually newer buildings. There we had some disconnect where the architect went in and wanted to put a club on one floor so he took out one of the supporting walls, and the engineers didnt know that.
When the earthquake occurred, it just pancaked, and only that floor was lost, but obviously you have to take the building down. Many of the buildings toppled, as opposed to collapsed, and they were able to rescue a lot of folks from that. Still, a lot of devastation, but nowhere the amount we saw in Haiti.
One of things that was uniquewe saw some buildings that was exoskeleton of glass, and there was not a crack in the glass at all, but the building couldnt be occupied because of the non-structural issues of where the stuff inside was falling and made it impractical or impossible to actually be in that building. Its important that we deal with it.
We also understand that government is going to be involved. Chile, like Haiti, was going through an election. A president took over in a couple of weeks after that and made a huge difference in bringing together the private sector and bringing in the folks to actually put together a plan. As we know, you have to have a back up to the back up to the back up. We expect these things and we know these things, and we hopefully can learn from the people we are dealing with.
Haiti, when we talk about resiliency, as much debris, rubble, and filth that was on the street, we saw the kids in clean, starched uniforms to go to school. We saw the people that were very resilient. From a governmental perspective, they still have a lot to do. Saving lives, bringing in the military, as we do with the Guard and the military in the United States, theres a role and its important that role is understood.
For the most part, it was the communities and neighborhood folks that are doing the jobs. We have to rethink or re-look at our hospitals in the United Statessee what we can actually do with them and what we want to do with them relative to building a stronger, more resilient program here in the United States.
It is also important that we understand the mental and moral support that is needed, not just in that community that is impacted, but from around the country as we interface and interact with other people to make sure that we keep things going and keep our supply chains open and make sure that we help one another.
The business community is very important. They can come in, and not just for the goods and services, but from the front end of making sure their employees are part of the training process-making sure they are in the loop and that they have an understanding of what is needed, how much supplies they need not only at work, but at home and in their cars, etc.
We know that the first bill that came post-Katrina was affectionately known as the "pet bill". We have to make sure that those things are incorporated in the process. There is always going to be that social earthquake that arrives. People are going to be doing things that are not in concert with the law, or in concert with what we believe in, and were going to have to make sure that we have that.
They had prisons in Chile that were destroyed and had to be evacuated. That was one of the things they didnt want to talk about, but we were told in other ways that they handled the situation very efficiently and effectively. We know that infrastructure takes a long time to rebuild. That is just the nature of the beast. It will take a long time to get some of these things done.
We saw it in California after Northridge that provided incentives to the private sector made for recovery opportunities to be able to come in and get things done in a record fashion. Those are the things we have to make sure we put in our plans up front. Have debris removal plans. Dont wait for things to happen. We know that when we have a catastrophe or major disaster, debris is going to be one of those issues. Having a debris management plan is just good common sensemaking sure weve got that in place so that we dont have to worry about it.
Is Los Angeles ready? Los Angeles does a great job of bringing not only the community, but an alliance of alliances, if you willa program called "Shake Out". One 10/21 at 10:21 we will have the third Great Shake Out in which we get folks involved in just dropping, covering and holding. We measure that by folks going online, signing upsaying, "yes, I will participate," or "yes, I want to participate."
I was on the line this morning with one of the Senators office. They want to come out and participate. They are thinking about moving and getting the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium involved with this Shake Out. Its a way of getting that memory in peoples minds, that they have a role and responsibility in earthquake preparednessin any kind of preparedness. This is just one way of getting people out there.
If you want to participate, go online to shakeout.org and then sign up, and participate at 10:21 on 10/21, and then go back online and say, "I was there and I participated and I think there are some things we can incorporate and use in our community." It is always good.
Know what you can do relative to infrastructure protection. Make sure you get everybody involved. Make sure your hospitals understand and you understand what the surge capacity capability is. The communitywe throw around that all disasters are local, but we also have to start acting like all disasters are local and make sure that we are ready to help and ready to understand what capabilities we have in our community.
Make sure we establish relationships internally and externally, and make sure that we dont just wait for things to happenthat we look out around our community, our state, our nation, and around the world to look at how people are doing things, how they are making a difference, and how they are recovering.
As I said at the beginning, every place Ive ever been, Ive always learned something, no matter how small it was, that I could come back and apply in our own situation. I know it took the 1933 Long Beach earthquake to design schools to the highest standards. It took the 1971 San Fernando earthquake to design hospitals to the highest standards. What will it take to design higher occupancy buildings to higher standards?
We have to make the hard decisions. Who is going to make those decisions? My time is up. I want to thank you all, and I hope weve got some questions. Id love to continue to dialogue.
Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Ellis. Now, to proceed to our Q&A.
[Audience Questions & Answers]
Jan: On one of your slides you mentioned "seismic culture." Would you expand on what that means?
Ellis Stanley: Seismic culture in that environment meant when I talked about cultural resiliency, folks did not have to wait for government to come in and say, "The earth just finished shaking, please move out to your plan B, etc." Their culture was, if it shakes hard enough to knock you off your feet, you move to higher ground. That is what saved so many lives.
That was the seismic culture. They knew that if it got to this degree, we would take an action that would save our life. And they did. They said tourists, but it wasnt just tourists, it was folks from the inland who were down on the island and really didnt have that culture because thats not where they grew upthat if these things happen, you make these decisions. Thats what I mean by seismic culture.
Amy Sebring: Do you know when they had their last major earthquake before this one?
Ellis Stanley: They had a 9.5 in 1960. Theyve had some of the largest earthquakes in our times. Again, their codes had been changed, (the seismic culture) so their buildings were in relatively good shape. As I said, some of the older buildings actually did better than some of the newer ones because in some of the newer ones, shortcuts had been taken.
One of the things that happen in Chilethe owner of the building, not the tenant, but the builder of the buildingthey are held liable for damages that would occur as a result of an earthquake. Thats a different paradigm than we have in the United States. You can build a building and sell it ten times, and the last one owning it is the one that is responsible. There, the one that builds or constructs it, they are the ones that are held responsible for the success or failure of that building.
That gives them a little more incentive to do the right thing up front.
Amy Sebring: Would you agree that in the United States, California, we at least have some of the seismic culture, whereas in the New Madrid area, thats a different story?
Ellis Stanley: Yes, New Madrid was so many years ago, but we also know from seismologist and the USGS that is still a highly seismic area. I testified last week to a Senate subcommittee, and they are looking at and are very concerned about the New Madrid area and are looking at what can be done in that area.
As we say here in California, one of the things that everybody can do, especially in their homes, is harden their space. Its usually not the building that is going to fall on you and kill you, its the non-structural stuff. Theres a lot of things that you can do as individuals that is not going to cost you a lot of moneystrapping your hot water heater down, or attaching your heavy book shelf to the wall, or putting some straps on your TV so it wont injure folks, or putting shoes by the bed so you can walk out even if theres glass.
Those are little things folks can do to harden their space.
Carole Y. Johnson: What recommendation do you have to include children in disaster planning and especially as it relates to what we can learn for protecting children at day care centers?
Ellis Stanley: Two different questionschildren in disasters, children are actually some of your best students. Children do a better job of educating parents than you and I can do educating parents. Usually in your elementary schools, this is a good place to actually do exercises and drills and get them accustomed to it.
Many of us, and I dont know the age group on the phone, but many of us growing up, we participated in that with the Civil Defense Drills. I think thats where the culture of preparedness actually starts getting that done. When you talk about day care and senior care centers, etc., that is a different question.
Its dealing with those organizations, those associations, those state rules to change the preparedness level in those communities dealing with them directly, so they can actually market weve got a safer place for your children to be when you bring your kids to day care or when you bring your seniors or elders to a place like that.
We talk about the necessity to establish relationshipsthose are the partners in your community that every emergency manager should be establishing a relationship with.
Isabel McCurdy: Ellis, good to hear from you today. There are so many mixed messages about pet preparedness. What is the common message to prepare the pets?
Ellis Stanley: I would think the common message is that we do our home preparednesswe look at how we account for our children, the rest of the folks in our household, and how we account for pets. It shouldnt be that difficult. I was amazed that we had to have a law on it, even in Katrina. If there was a lap pet, a cat or a small dog, nobody hesitated at all to rescue that animal.
Pets have a great constituency here in the United States. I joke a lot about youve never seen a bumper sticker that says, "I love my spouse". Thats because we have a high degree of concern for our pets. The only mixed messagesits a large pet like a horse, or something like that, how do you deal with it?
Most communities that have large pets, they have programs through schools, community colleges, etc., that you can get involved with. I dont think there is a huge mixed messageyou do what you should do. You get your family and their belongings. If their belongings are pets, you deal with it.
Michael A. Ramirez: Can you comment more on the need for community preparation. What community groups were in place in Haiti/Chile? How did they respond? What kind of government support did they receive before the temblors? Are you familiar with CERT in the US? Do you have any suggestions for how to better integrate that program into our response/recovery efforts?
Ellis Stanley: Let me start in reverse. I am very familiar with CERT (Community Emergency Response Team). It started here in L.A. about 25 years ago. It became a developed curriculum through FEMA and the Emergency Management Institute. It is all over this country. It has been taught in Turkey, Japan, etc.
CERT is one of those thingsI spoke at the L.A. Chamber of Commerce last week. One of the questions I asked the business community is how many of them had CERT teams, how many of them were involved or new about it, and I was delighted at the number of hands that went up. One way of getting CERT into your community is go to your business community and make sure they train their employees. The tradeoff is a trained employee will get back to work quicker because theyve done their best to make sure their families and finances are taken care of, and then they can go back to work and keep the job going.
To answer the question relative to Chileas I indicated, the fire department is 100% volunteer. The Red Cross is 100% volunteer. Even the top folks in Red Cross are volunteer. They are a part of the community. The politics of thatand Ill throw this in real quickin Chile, the President appoints all the governors and senators. They appoint every political leader except the mayor.
The mayor, at the local level, is the only elected official in Chile other than the President and the ones the President appoints. Having said that, there is a strong connection between the community groups and the local elected official to make sure they get things done. In the areas where they have higher risk, they actually come together as a community to try to address that.
They do it from a needs basis. This is just good business and things we need to do, and they dont do it by waiting on the government to come in and help. The government does get there and they do a relatively good job, but the government is not a first responder. The same in the United Statesthe government here is not a first responderits the locals that have to do that.
Randy Rowel: Hello Ellis. Always good to hear from you about the international preparedness scene. I recently returned from Haiti. How engaged are NGOs, orphanages, and other service providers engaged in the recovery process? If they are not involved, what is Haiti's plan to expedite recovery efforts?
Ellis Stanley: Hi, Randy. I saw your report. Good job! It looked like you all made an impact there. What I saw with NGOs, and I saw a lot of it just flying in and flying out. The plane was filled with mission workers from many of the churches. NGOs have a great responsibility and they do a great job, but one of the problems that they have is the same thing we have in the United States, and thats the silo mentality.
Folks kind of work within their own silo. They dont interconnect so that we add value to the folks being there. When we were in Haiti, we saw many instances where storage places of food had food that was expiring and was within a mile of those sites where probably half a dozen tremendous needs for that food, but they had not connected.
The NGOs have great opportunity, great resources, great capabilities, but by not connecting with all the different needs, it creates other gaps. I think that is the inherent problem that Im seeing. Part of the solution to that is to have somebody there that their only job is to make sure that folks are connected. We saw one group that was elated about the fact that they had inspected 5,000 homes.
When we asked about who knows the homes have been inspectedwell, we know, and they were still empty. So they had been inspected, but they hadnt passed it on to folks that could get people in them. Linking the NGOs to everybody else is a huge gap that needs to be plugged.
Diane Cullen: What were the most effective means of communicating? (i.e. satellite phones, radios, text messaging, cell phones)
Ellis Stanley: There were two or three days when there were no communications. Even the fire departments had limited communications in their area because some of the cell towers were out. It was really that door to door. It was neighbor to neighbor communication. Internet and cell phones were up quicker than other means of communication, and then they used that.
Within three days, the federal government was able to get their lines of communication back up. Satellite phones, they used rarely because many of them didnt have access to satellite phones. The areas right around the communitythe volunteer firefighters could talk to one another. That brought up one of the issues, even within their areawhen all communications were down, they had a backup plan that firefighters will report to these areas.
We know that in an earthquake, the infrastructureyour roads may be cut off. What they didnt have, and another learning is, we have to have backup to the backup to backup. You do these things innately because youve been trained and youve exercised, but when that plan also fails, its important to have a backup to that.
J.R. Jones: Thank you for an interesting presentation. Please mention our CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) program which teaches citizens to deal with all types of disasters. This training is offered free in every state, and emphasizes the most prevalent disaster of that area. What about the safety of nuclear plants, especially those sitting nearby or on top of the San Andreas fault?
Ellis Stanley: As many of you know, it takes about 10 years, I think in a minimum, to get a nuclear power plant certified for operation. We have some nuclear power plants in California. In my history and involvement, and Ive been around long enough that doing the Three Mile Island, I was part of the Nuclear Regulatory new standards that came out with safety and preparedness.
They actually have some strong standards. They have very good alert warning capabilities within those areas, and they are built to much higher standards than anything else.
Hank Straub: In Chile, was there a significant need for subject matter experts and how was this resource mobilized? Did technology systems facilitate access to SME sources?
Ellis Stanley: The answer to the question is yes. There was that need. One of the things that probably wouldnt have happened in any other case was the transition of government. When the new government got there, they saw, for a lack of better terms, a lot of opportunities to fill some gaps in the existing infrastructure, relative to their organization, ONEMI, which the equivalent to FEMA.
What the President immediately did, and this gentleman was actually in Washington last week and testified with me, they brought together gentlemen to head up the emergency committee. Thats where they brought in the technical expert piece. What can we do? How have we done that? If you look at the rescue and recovery of the miners, that was a comprehensive initiative, where you brought folks from all over the world, including NASA and everybody to do that.
You have to have the willingness and openness to know what you dont have and ask for help to come in and help. It worked. They were able to bring in resources and they apparently listened to some outside resources to that. To the point, I know there are relationships being established with California and Chile will be here for the Great Shake Out. I know that FEMA is doing some things with Chile again.
It is all about relationships and establishing lines of communication and not being locked into one piece of technology, but being open to whats out there and whats available and what can assist you in getting the job done.
Ryan Colker: You mentioned the lack of building codes as a significant factor in the level of damage in Haiti. What do you see as the biggest challenge in getting building codes in place (now in Haiti and elsewhere)?
Ellis Stanley: Hopefully, the election will take place in November. Youll have a new President coming in and they have a Haiti Recovery Commission. That commission is co-chaired by President Clinton of the Clinton-Bush Initiative and the Prime Minister of Haiti. The Prime Minister is appointed by the new President. Therefore, when that commission is re-seated, and it is seated right now, but I think there will be a pause of any action taking place, everything that has to happen in Haiti of significant change will come through that committee.
I see that as being very important. That would be a place you would actually put together some type of program management plan so that youll link the silos that I talked about earlier. Which comes firsta school, a health care, or the roads to those schools and health cares, or factories, or jobs? All of that will come to a central commission.
They will sign off and prioritize and do those things. Theyve already started developing or cordoning off some areas in Port-au-Prince where they will not allow rebuilding at all. They were looking at making those parks and things like that. Thats one good sign. I think the commission is going to be the focal point and will be the thing that will happen.
I think the fact that they havent had the election yet is probably stalling that whole effort, but I think it is so that when they have the election in November, we will see an increase in that.
Marcelle Penn Mathis: During the Chilean event, were there any lessons learned relative how special / functional needs populations were handled? Any best practices we could use?
Ellis Stanley: As I mentioned in the hospitals, 20 minutes is awesome. The first hospital we visited, they said 17 minutes, and we thought there was a translation problem. We kept going back to the translator with "How long did it take to evacuate the hospital?" It was 17 minutes. When we got out to other places, it was 20 or 22 minutes. I think what occurred was, you didnt wait for specialized equipment. People grabbed people and got out of the hospital.
Again, we talk about the seismic culture. They knew the hospital was shaking and they saw it breaking up, so they just grabbed people and moved. The same things in neighborhoodsyou know in your neighborhood that there is a person with a hearing impairment, or cant walk, or whatever, and neighbors took care of neighbors. I think the lesson there is that we have to do a better job from the community standpoint.
One of the things that tie our hands in the United States is that we have laws that are misinterpreted that say emergency managers cant have information on people with disabilities beforehand. I think the appropriate wording of the law is emergency managers cant have hospital and medical data. I dont need to know why a person is in a wheelchair. I just need to know that I need to provide for wheelchair access.
What we try to do in the United States is opt people in by saying you can go to this site and sign up, and well take care of you. I think what we should do is opt people outif you dont want us to provide assistance for you, you go on this thing and opt out. Otherwise we know where we have people with special needs and we can deal with. I think that makes for a much better plan.
Dr. Jacqueline McBride: Ellis, thanks for your leadership in emergency management. Did these countries have pre-existing, train the trainer programs to empower the "at-risk populations, communities and individuals" in developing a culture of preparedness?
Ellis Stanley: Hi, Jackie. Im glad to hear you are on here. What we saw and why we dubbed it a "cultural resilience" was they did in factwhen you have a compulsory military at 18, you are going to go through military training. You are going to go through boot camp. You may not perceive that as emergency management training, but it is in fact training for survival, for saving your life. It becomes innate. It becomes a part of that process.
The Red Cross, who is a volunteer organization, they do a pretty good job of incorporating the community and getting people involved in training in the Red Cross. With people with disabilities, they dont necessarily think about it that way. They think about it as a community as a whole, dealing with everything in our community. Whether it is our pets, our elderly, our children, or people with disabilitiesso to say they had concerted effort to deal with people with disabilities, I think it was more of an innate response planning and making sure that everyone was involved.
Avagene Moore: Ellis, I greatly appreciate your emphasis on local communities taking responsibility for their own safety and response. From your experience in the business, and observation around the world, what can we do in US communities to enhance and empower that sense of self-reliance with less emphasis on dependence on the various levels of government?
Ellis Stanley: Thank you, Avagene. I think the first thing we have to start letting folks know, whether it is in our schools or whatever, is that it is your responsibility to save yourself. I know that sounds kind of harsh, but too often we wait for the cavalry to come and save us, and usually thats too late. Thats the news story.
But the story you dont see, and weve got some great examples even in New Orleans, where communities have said, "Its our responsibility. This was an act we didnt have responsibility overlets get our act together and rebuild." I think we have to make sure as we go into the communities, doing our education, doing our training and exercises that we involve everybody in the community and we let them know that they have a responsibility as well.
Its not just "my taxes pay for this", but that "I have a responsibility as a citizen of the world to do as much as I can to take care of me, my family, my household, my neighbors," and thats where it begins. Until we can start consistently preaching that we all have a responsibility in this, I think were going to have people waiting around for the cavalry and I think were going to continue to have more catastrophic impact than is necessary.
Ben Curran: Is microenterprise or micro credit used in disaster recovery overseas? Is it something we can replicate here in low income areas in the US?
Ellis Stanley: That is a good question. That is one of the areas that we did not do as much investigation on. I am sorry I cant answer that right now. I do know that in Haiti with the World Bank involvement and with the Canadian banks involved in that, we will have more data to ascertain that, but I cant answer that right now.
Carole Y. Johnson: Do you have any recommendations on what can be done to help reunite family members after a disaster?
Ellis Stanley: One of the things is to try not to separate them if they are in the same disaster. What we teach in all the emergency management training is to have that outside third partyif your kids are at school and you are at work, and you have a disaster and you cant get people back together, have that third party outside the area that you can call and get folks back together.
It was a sad commentary in my perspective in Katrina when animals were reunited with their owners quicker than children were reunited with their parents. I know that is something were going to have to continue to work on. Were not looking at putting in chips, like we have with animals, in our kids.
But we can, in the planning process, make sure that when we report to a shelter that we have a comprehensive case management toolno matter whether its the Red Cross, or whether it is some other agencythat we have a good, strong database that is going to track everybody that were dealing with. That is probably one of the simplest ways of reuniting people.
Bob Goldhammer: Ellis, we're coming into elections here in Iowa as well as other places. One of my friends who is running for Congress is getting a lot of negative ads because he is promoting the personal responsibility you just talked about. Any suggestions?
Ellis Stanley: Everybody is coming in at some elections. Here in California, one of the things were looking at is making sure that whatever transition team goes in place that they understand the importance and value of emergency management. Whether it is your friend, Bob, or one of the othersthat should be one of the issues they clearly understand and put in.
Its personal responsibility, whether they are voting, or whether they are taking care of their family or themselves in an emergency. I dont think you can back down on that. There is personal responsibility that we have to do.
Ben Curran: What is the hold up in getting the rubble removed in Haiti?
Ellis Stanley: We talked about the disparity in government. They really dont have any resources there. They will have to move in heavy equipment. They tremendously underestimated the amount of money it would take for debris removal. Its a matter of government getting things kick started.
Avagene Moore: Ellis, I was very impressed with the hospital evacuation time you cited. Does the same apply to other facilities such as schools, government and privates sector buildings?
Ellis Stanley: The fact that this particular earthquake in Chile happened at 3:00 A.M. or 3:30 in the morning, you didnt have any other buildings done. One of the things I say kind of facetiously is you didnt get the lawyers involved. You didnt get sued because you didnt use the stair chair to move people down the stairs. People didnt wait. They just got up and moved. I dont know if we wouldnt have the same thing here in the United States.
Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. Thank you very much Ellis. We appreciate your taking the time to be with us today and share this information.
Ellis Stanley: Thank you very much. I think when we look at things from an international perspective, we all have to capitalize on the lessons we can learn from others and do what we can to teach others from the things that weve learned from our own experiences.
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Thanks to everyone for participating today and have a great afternoon. We are adjourned.