American expert advises countries to draw a lesson from hurricane disaster

An American expert who has experience in hurricane response management proposed here on Friday that every country should establish some emergency management programs for disaster preparedness.

The world has been shocked by hurricane Katrina's devastation of the southern regions of the United States in August.

"A government should have a pre-disaster program and then test it frequently," Philip Walker, a federal emergency management coordinator of the United States, told Xinhua, noting that it is essential to reduce disaster loss.

Philip Walker participated in the Asian Conference on Disaster Reduction(ACDR) held in Beijing from Tuesday. During the meeting, he was organizing the medical work in Houston by mobile phone when hurricane Rita was hitting Texas.

If there had not been a drill this May, hurricane Katrina would have claimed many more lives in New Orleans, according to Walker.

After hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf region in the U.S., the President of the United States activated the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), the first time it had been used in actual situation. The system had had an evacuation drill in May, according to Walker.

He said a disaster emergency management program should include medical resources preparation, adding that hospital beds and protection of clinical personnel and nation-wide pharmaceutical caches are critical.

He proposed that countries who have not yet established a certain emergency program make a medical resource database and share information among governments at all levels.

Governments should know how many beds they have for specific medical purposes, how many doctors and nurses are available and how to contact them after a disaster occurs, Walker said.

He also suggested that patient reception and segregation of the sick from the well are also priorities.

"Emergency management is not hard, but complex," acknowledged Walker, adding that it needs good management and coordination and concrete timelines to function.

Walker said every calamity is unique and is a test to a country. And any prepared plan should be modified according to the actual situation.

Philip Walker showed how the US government dealt with the hurricane disaster. The NDMS is co-organized by the Departments of Homeland Security, Defence, Veterans Affairs and Health Service of the US.

Hurricane Katrina devastated a couple of US southern states in August, leaving more than 1,000 deaths and over 10.000 people still missing.

It was followed not much later by hurricane Rita, which also did much damage.

Source: Xinhua

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