Harsh Lessons

If anybody wonders why we activate the City’s emergency systems all the time (special events, exercises, small emergencies) just read this article about Japan’s nuclear plant after the earthquake:


Every time we activate we learn – we find weaknesses, we refine processes, we build relationships.

What it comes down to is that nobody at the plant practiced “for real” – if they had physically tried to complete the tasks they would have realized that they didn’t have a manual, equipment was in the wrong spot….all the details that will kill you (literally) in a crisis. I’m sure they did drills – but made assumptions and probably rarely actually donned the gear or walked through the steps. And if they did, somebody most likely faked it or didn’t want to mention or learn from the failures.

The other lesson here is thinking beyond your box – the engineers probably didn’t think about debris management (somebody else!) and what they found was that if stuff is in the way, nobody can get to you…which means you get NO help. Plans and systems are interdependent.

Think about your own life – if the car is broken you can’t get to work, so your income suffers. Kids can’t get to school, so they fall behind. So we all have alternatives – bus, friends, etc…

It’s the same for emergency plans – If you’re responsible contingency plans, think about failure points outside your control. And then make a friend so you can address the potential fail point.

Details matter, so don’t gloss over them. Your life could depend on it.


About sfdemrob

Director of Emergency Services with a single mission: make the idea of community resiliency synonymous with San Francisco.

Posted on June 19, 2011, in Disasters. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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