Haz­ards sce­nario team plan for worst

Pilbara News - - News - Dylan Ca­porn

They are the fright­en­ing sce­nar­ios which sound more like movie plots.

A mys­te­ri­ous flu epi­demic grips WA. The workforce de­pleted, peo­ple are fil­ing into hos­pi­tals and doc­tors’ surg­eries around the State, pre­sent­ing with symp­toms of the dis­ease.

Or per­haps it’s an earth­quake, high on the Richter scale, hit­ting at the dead cen­tre of Albany, putting at risk her­itage build­ings never de­signed to with­stand the dis­as­ter.

Or even a tsunami trig­gered by a mas­sive earth­quake south of Java which threat­ens thou­sands of kilo­me­tres of coast­line be­tween Kuri Bay in the Kim­ber­ley and Bre­mer Bay in the Great South­ern.

They are just some of the 27 haz­ards WA faces and which the team at the Of­fice of Emer­gency Man­age­ment are charged with pre­par­ing the State for.

While there are plans for haz­ards of a high like­li­hood — cy­clones, fires and storms — there are oth­ers that are less than likely.

Liq­uid fuel sup­ply dis­rup­tion — there’s a plan for that.

Ra­di­a­tion es­cape from a nu­clear-pow­ered war­ship — there’s a plan for that too.

There’s even a plan for when de­bris re-en­ters the Earth’s at­mos­phere from space.

OEM ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Mal Cron­st­edt said the plans were de­vel­oped af­ter ex­ten­sive work­shop­ping with field ex­perts.

“There’s not only the plan to ad­dress the out­come, con­se­quence of it, the re­sponse to it, but this anal­y­sis is go­ing into a bit more depth,” he said.

“We’ve got a bunch of ex­perts here, and the science-ori­ented peo­ple, who also have links into broader in­dus­try, so when it comes to a par­tic­u­lar haz­ard they make it their busi­ness to ex­am­ine it — the prob­a­bil­ity, the con­se­quence — in a de­tail greater than just a cur­sory ex­am­i­na­tion.

“When we get down to it we spend an en­tire day ex­am­in­ing the haz­ard in ex­cru­ci­at­ing de­tail.”

The of­fice is di­rected by the State Emer­gency Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee, made up of high­rank­ing mem­bers of WA Po­lice, and the de­part­ments of Health, Child Pro­tec­tion, Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices and the Pre­mier and Cabi­net.

SEMC chair­man Frank Ed­wards has a long his­tory work­ing with haz­ard prepa­ra­tion.

The for­mer army of­fi­cer and City of Perth chief ex­ec­u­tive has spent decades work­ing in emer­gency re­sponse and man­age­ment and he be­lieves the State is “very well pre­pared”.

“You have to look at it in the con­text of like­li­hood and con­se­quence; what is the risk,” Mr Ed­wards said.

“All haz­ards have plans pre­pared — a plan is the ba­sis to cross the start line. You don’t know where the in­ci­dent might be, or how bad it is, or what its par­tic­u­lar na­ture might be. But if you have a set of plans re­viewed reg­u­larly and ex­er­cised, you’ve got to do both. Then each time an in­ci­dent does oc­cur you then would nor­mally re­view it af­ter­wards to see how it worked.”

By the end of the year, the OEM ex­pects to have re­viewed eight pre­pared­ness plans, in­clud­ing for land and ma­rine searches, road crashes and space re-en­try de­bris.

And while a piece of space junk en­ter­ing the at­mos­phere may seem un­likely, Mr Ed­wards jus­ti­fies it with this fact: “Ev­ery sin­gle day of the year, a piece of space junk re-en­ters the Earth’s at­mos­phere.

“The ma­jor­ity of them burn out in the at­mos­phere and pose no threat. The prob­a­bil­ity is so low — well there is a plan for it, it is ex­er­cised pe­ri­od­i­cally, it is re­viewed pe­ri­od­i­cally.

“But the con­se­quences of it are not un­like the con­se­quences of many other haz­ards.

“There are a lot of things out there that could hap­pen, but the like­li­hood and the prob­a­bil­ity is low, so we’ve got to en­sure that the mech­a­nism is in place to re­spond ei­ther if we have warn­ing or if we don’t.”

The hard­est haz­ards to pre­pare for, Mr Cron­st­edt said, were the un­pre­dictable ones.

“It’s the no-warn­ing, high­im­pact high-con­se­quence things that you can do all the prepa­ra­tion for, you can pro­gram peo­ple in the years lead­ing up to it,” he said.

“But then it hits. So it be­comes about the re­sponse.

“Look at the last cou­ple of months of rain­fall — it’s the talk around town, it’s so un­usual.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.