Tens of thousands of lives can be saved during disasters, mainly earthquakes, with the strong coordinated response capabilities of the government, military, and the civilians. This can also help the country in the face of a possible large-scale flood, cyclone or tidal bore.
The five-day Pacific Resilience Disaster Response Exercise and Exchange (DREE) workshop was held in Dhaka to build strong coordination response capabilities in the country among government, military and the civilians. The Armed Forces Division (AFD) and US army jointly organized the largest humanitarian assistance and disaster relief workshop in Bangladesh.
Local and international experts said emergency preparedness during earthquake can save tens of thousands of lives.
The DREE was designed to enhance civil-military cooperation and test the Standing Orders on Disaster (SOD) and the draft Capital Dhaka Earthquake Contingency Plan.
The 6th engagement between the government and US Army Pacific Command was intended to promote emergency preparedness during an earthquake. This year's exercise specifically addressed readiness for earthquake response and recovery in Dhaka. The primary themes of the DREE were planning, coordination, communication and media affairs.
Other topics, such as incorporation of Multi National forces (MNF), reception of international humanitarian assistance and aero medical evacuation were also discussed during the exercise.
The DREE focuses upon regional readiness to all hazard situations, with particular emphasis on earthquake preparedness. The DREE provides a framework for AFD, United States Army Pacific Command (USARPAC) and civil authorities.
The DREE also discussed which way foreign humanitarian assistance will be considered, the reception and dissemination of aid, first responders, or support to the injured, prioritization of land, air and sea space and management of logistical supplies without any hassle.
To build alternative communication considerations system like FM radio focus on civil-military interoperability, alerting and informing the public, joint information management and media partnerships. Other topics, such as engineering, medical, urban search and rescue (USAR) and disaster coordination were also demonstrated.
DREE also discussed which way to build up coordination among National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) the AFD, the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC), National Disaster Response Coordination Centre (NDRCC). Multi-national Coordination Centre (MNCC), Onsite Operations and Coordination Centre (OSOCC), and other national and international organizations.
At least 150 members of the civil and military organisations, including three media-persons including this correspondent of the Daily Observer participated in the exercise. DREE was divided into two sessions i) table top exercise (TTX) and ii) field training exercise (FTX).
Prof Dr SM Maksud Kamal, a teacher of the Department of Disaster Science and Management of Dhaka University said, "Historical instances in Bangladesh and adjoining areas indicate that Bangladesh is vulnerable to earthquake damages."
"The geographical location and topographical features of Bangladesh have made us vulnerable for all kinds of natural disasters," The Principal Staff Officer (PSO) of the Armed Forces Division, Lt Gen Md Mainul Islam, said in his inaugural speech in the city.
"We have progressed a lot in managing most of the natural disasters. But we are yet to have effective capabilities in managing earthquake-related disasters," the PSO said.
"We have not experienced any major earthquake for a long time. But the situation after a major earthquake in Dhaka city will be catastrophic," he warned.
Maj Gen Bilton Deputy Commanding General (Operations) of the US Army Pacific Command said the purpose of the exercise is to help build capacity and also provide reassurance to the civilians through the members of the armed forces when disaster strikes. "We will continue such types of exercise in cooperation with the Bangladesh's Armed Forces Division," he added.