When you mention disasters and Bangladesh most people think of flooding, but did you know Bangladesh is at risk of moderate to strong earthquakes and secondary risks of tsunamis and flooding?
Imagine the consequences of mega-earthquake in a large, densely populated city where most structures are poorly built on soft soil and threatened by floods, and sea-level rise. These are the threats facing Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Large earthquakes are part of the region’s history but are much less frequent than floods. This means most people in Dhaka are not prepared for a large earthquake.
Recently, I was invited by the Armed Forces Division, Bangladesh as an international subject matter expert to present at the Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange (DREE) organised by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief (MoDMR), Armed Forces Division (AFD) and United States Army Pacific (USARPAC). DREE is the largest earthquake disaster-related exercise in the Asia Pacific region.
The exercise began with a two-day exchange and presentations by subject matter experts followed by tabletop exercise where I presented to a large national and domestic audience in Dhaka on the public health impacts of earthquakes.
On the second day, I was honoured to go with State Minister, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief Dr. Md Enamur Rahman, MP to present at a satellite conference in Rangpur and returned to participate in Dhaka for the tabletop and field exercise.
The field training exercise was huge. The Armed Forces Division simulated an earthquake, with emergency services, Red Crescent volunteers, local government and civil society organisations all playing a role in n the response.
I was in the medical cell working alongside Red Crescent volunteers and US military personnel as we recorded survivors being brought to our tent or spontaneously arriving. We provided basic first aid and psychological first aid and stabilised and triaged injured patients. During debriefing we all reflected on the usefulness of the exercise and the challenges of making decisions in a rapid and evolving situation.
Earthquake simulations can help improve response times and on-the-ground coordination when disaster strikes. It’s great to see the Bangladesh government and army being proactive and prepared. As a lecturer in Disaster Management at QUT I am passionate about sharing these and other experiences with students, so they can learn how Disaster Management principles are applied in international, national and local contexts.
Disaster management is not just for governments; organisations, private enterprise and individuals all have a role to play when a disaster happens.
If you are likely to be involved in coordinating a response to a major incident or disaster, enrol now to benefit from the real-world experience of Dr Durham and others. QUT has been delivering disaster management and leadership courses for 10 years.
Jo teaches with her colleague Dr Sam Toloo into the four units in the field of Disaster Management:
- Introduction to Disaster Management
- Disaster Planning and Preparedness
- Disaster Response and Recovery
- Leadership in Disaster Management
To see full details or for more information go to: www.qut.edu.au/health/ph-short