In addition, Emergency Response Team trainings are organised on a regular basis, testing skills through the use of disaster scenarios. During these exercises, teams are able to refresh their skills in Incident Command System and Emergency Operations Centre management.
FOCUS has also conducted a Disaster Management Leadership Training Conference to help prepare North American RDMT leads to effectively respond in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. Participants completed a training conducted by experts who were knowledgeable on hazards that occur in Australia, Canada, Papua New Guinea and the United States of America. During the training, participants had the opportunity to share best practices and experiences, while trainers also shared lessons learned.
In 2016, FOCUS Canada and USA held its first North American simulation exercise with the objective to assess cross-border response capacity. The exercise assessed teams at local, regional and national levels, and provided an opportunity to examine communications and decision-making processes, cross-team collaboration, and other disaster response procedures. Preparedness initiatives are also undertaken at a community level. The community is engaged on an annual basis through initiatives such as the ShakeOut, which originated in California. This is the largest annual earthquake drill in the world, designed to help individuals reduce their risk of death and injury by practicing earthquake safety procedures. Participants of the ShakeOut are taught what to do in the event of an earthquake: Drop, Cover and Hold On when the earth shakes.
By participating in such events, FOCUS Canada applies lessons learned, experiences, and resources, to help vulnerable communities be better prepared and more effectively respond to disasters. FOCUS Canada also encourages individuals and families, in particular the elderly and vulnerable, to be better prepared to face a range of emergencies and ensure they are self-sufficient for 72 hours after a disaster. This type of preparedness messaging is based on guidance from the Government of Canada’s emergency preparedness website www.getprepared.gc.ca.
The three simple steps that FOCUS Canada promotes include:
1. Know the risks – Although the consequences of disasters can be similar, knowing the risks specific to our community and our region (like what to do in the case of floods, tornados, earthquakes, storm surges, hurricanes, and technological or environmental accidents such as chemical spills and power failures) can help us better prepare.
2. Make a plan – Every household needs an emergency plan. It will help you and your families know what to do if disaster strikes. We should all practice what to do in different emergency situations.
3. Get an emergency kit – During an emergency, we may need to get by without power or tap water. We will all need some basic supplies (such as a 3-day supply of water, non-perishable food, a flashlight, batteries - a battery-operated or wind-up radio, first aid kit, pocket knife, prescriptions, extra set of keys and money, and copies of important documents). Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours in an emergency.