In the course of living our lives, you-know-what happens…and it happens again and again and again. There is even a Canadian Disaster Database that has been tracking the events that fall under this description since 1900. (Check it out here if your interest is piqued enough; but, do so at the possible peril of increased stress, elevated anxiety and more nightmares.)
Anyone who has ever heard a story that begins with, “When I was your age…”, knows that each generation believes passionately that those who come after us are having a much easier time of things. I, myself, have been known to start a story or two in this way. The Canadian Disaster Database, however, suggests that this belief, held by the more mature among us, is simply not true.
I live in a small province and the years between 1900 and 2016, there have been 89 recorded disasters. The twentieth century saw about 65 of these disasters; and though we are less than one-fifth of the way through the 21st century there are already 24 recorded disasters.
Of these 89 disasters, 68 were weather-related and 24 were incidents like industrial accidents, fire and chemical spills. More interesting is that weather-related disasters are increasing while the other type of incidents are decreasing.
Moreover, these are events in which:
- 10 or more people killed
- 100 or more people affected/injured/infected/evacuated or homeless
- there was an appeal for national/international assistance
- there is an historical significance
- significant damage/interruption of normal processes such that the community affected cannot recover on its own.
It doesn’t cover wars and other similar types of human violence. Given that, we can safely assume that these numbers are actually much higher. (Take a minute to let that scary thought sink in.)
These little statistical tidbits bring me back to my opening statement, “shit happens”. And, even though we have become more safety-focused and have been able to reduce the number of accidents that occur, we cannot control the weather and the increasing disasters that violent weather can cause.
So, it becomes more important than ever to plan and prepare for the unexpected, to be ready for anything. First responders and emergency managers know that the initial efforts, at the local level, are the very best chance we have to control and manage these situations. Coordinating the information and getting it out to those with the skills and willingness to stand in the face of disaster is the first and most critical step. These community heroes need communication tools that are practical, available and affordable. Using industry standard and readily available technologies like cell phones, tablets and mobile internet is one of the best ways to do this. Making sure these communication systems are usable, by regular people whose livings are not made in IT, is imperative. Letting our first responders do those things train for and giving them the tools to do it just makes sense.
So, for this reason, and dozens more, products like EmQ are becoming more important as more emergency managers and first responders come to rely on them. EmQ is an emergency management software that provides two-way communication that can be applied to any contact list and can be as simple as sending a text. With simple actions that are intuitive for most people, they can alert qualified personnel about an ongoing situation. They can know immediately who can respond and when, allowing them to plan better and more efficiently for the task at hand.