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Monday 21 Aug 2017 | 14:38 | SYDNEY
Monday 21 Aug 2017 | 14:38 | SYDNEY

Crisis response: Empowering individuals

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11 August 2008 10:47

Stop reading for a moment, look around the building you are in, and ask yourself, 'do I know where the emergency exit is?' The Age and SMH ran a terrific little article this weekend in their magazine supplement about how people survive disasters; information and preparation are key. 

As we've argued before on this blog, governments need to give people the tools and the sense of responsibility to take the initiative in a crisis. Here's the critical passage from the article (which I found in edited form on the London Times website), which is as relevant to Australia as it is to the US:

...it’s ironic that a right-wing government employing the rhetoric of individual freedom and self-sufficiency should “respond to 9/11 by telling the American people to go shopping. There was a great opportunity there to frame individual resilience as patriotic, and it was lost. It’s easier for a government to say, ‘We bought six command centres that cost $800,000 each’ rather than, ‘We’ve gone into the neighbourhoods and talked to people.’”

The terrorist threat is generally low-tech, but the romance with high-tech means, “If you go to a Homeland Security expo it’s all tanks and Smith & Wesson selling guns. Northrop Grumman [suppliers of ships, planes and electronic systems to the US military] is now into homeland security in a big way.” She covered a security convention in Washington recently, and “there was one guy there with these emergency food and water packs – I loved that guy! These conventions should be about getting people to take their own security seriously rather than police departments buying tanks.”  

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