US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan W Mozena on Monday stressed establishing a centralized command and control centre in Bangladesh with a view to carrying out rescue operation effectively following any earthquake to minimize the disaster aftermath.
“…a centralized command and control centre -- some kind of national disaster management centre -- that will survive a calamitous earthquake and be available to support rapid and effective decision making,” he said while addressing the opening ceremony of a program at a city hotel.
Bangladesh Armed Forces Division and US Army Pacific jointly arranged the four-day event -- Fifth Bangladesh Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange 2014.
Mozena urged the government of Bangladesh to give urgent consideration to such a disaster management centre soonest. “I’m sure that America and Bangladesh’s many other international friends would be helpful in this endeavor,” he said.
Referring to the last year’s factory building collapse, the US envoy said the Rana Plaza was a taste of what would happen when Dhaka is hit by a major earthquake. “According to one government of Bangladesh estimate, if a 7.0 richter scale earthquake strikes Dhaka, at least 70,000 of the city’s 350,000 buildings will collapse.”
Of course, he sad, simply having a seismically safe command and control center is not in itself sufficient. So, the government needs to ensure that the right decision makers are available to populate the center and use it to orchestrate a fast and effective rescue effort followed by recovery efforts.
Mozena said the first step in this regard is to identify the key decision makers whose participation is critical in the wake of a disaster. “Once these individuals are identified, then the government needs to ensure that they live and work in buildings that will survive an earthquake.”
He said these individuals will need to have an earthquake-proof capacity to communicate with each other, recognizing that landlines and cell phones will all be out of commission.
“The individuals will need to be able to access the command and control center, possibly by foot, if the roads are blocked by collapsed buildings and downed power lines. This, of course, is a huge task, but I am sure the government will give priority attention to.”
The US ambassador further said attention must also be given to the earthquake survivability of other vital elements of the response structure, including hospitals and other health facilities, fire departments, police and other security centers, food and water supplies.
He said Bangladesh needs to address urgent questions such as whether these facilities would survive an earthquake, and, if not, how can they be retrofitted or replaced so they could survive an earthquake.
About the aftermath of a real-life earthquake, Mozena said communications would be destroyed with all landlines and cell phones dysfunctional, and there would be no functioning transportation available.
Disaster Management and Relief Secretary Mesbah ul Alam, commander of Military Institute of Science and Technology Major General M Siddiqur Rahman Sarker, and chief of Operation and Plans Directorate, Armed Forces Division Brigadier General Sayeed Khan also spoke on the occasion.
The Bangladesh PR DREE is an annual civil-military disaster preparedness and response initiative between the government of Bangladesh and the US Army Pacific. This is the fifth iteration of this exercise, which enhances the steadfast relationship between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
Pacific Resilience DREE is a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise featuring 150 participants working through a table-top exercise, and 400 participants working through a phased field training exercise.
Mozena stresses control centre to minimize quake aftermath