After a nightmarish week, a new one begins. We thought that, with the declaration of national mourning and the state of emergency, things would progress more smoothly in the earthquake-affected areas of our country, however this was not exactly the case. It took quite a long time to restore order in the region.
Of course, it is not entirely possible to heal the wounds of the victims hit an earthquake of such immense magnitude in a couple of days, but unfortunately, the aid and relief efforts in Turkey remain chaotic and unorganized, especially in terms of civil defence and mobilization. We saw that social media was slowed down as people coming from abroad for help, capable people who volunteered to use construction equipment to move the debris, and trucks carrying aid are kept waiting outside the affected zones. Surely, none of these incidents would take place in a country run by experienced administrators.
Emergency action plans always look good on paper, but when an emergency actually happens, experienced people are needed to ensure that these plans are properly implemented. When mistakes occur one after another, inexperienced staff wait for instructions from their superiors, who tend to refrain to give the initiative to their staff to put control measures in emergency conditions. As a result, vitally important steps are constantly hindered as people wait for their superiors to give them instructions. As far as I understand, the personnel who are expected to perform the emergency response actions have not had a thorough drill. It is also imperative that people who are well-trained in how to cut concrete and iron in order to remove people from demolished buildings must be present on the field.
“Instructions Alone Won’t Help Establish Coordination.”
As far as I can tell, Turkey’s emergency plans have sadly remained only on paper and not been able to put into action after this major earthquake, such as which groups of professional will be called on when a disaster strikes, or when the military will step in to provide aid and establish security in the region, how the civil initiative will be organized, how the communication infrastructure will be restored, and how to provide other vital needs like shelter, food, and heating. Perhaps the reason why the country is failing to implement satisfactorily each of these relief actions is because everyone is waiting for an instruction from a superior.
The only way to successfully handle these tasks in case of natural disasters or other emergency situations is to have the appropriate units that act according to a predetermined action plan without the need for instructions. Because the top authorities giving instructions may not have adequate knowledge, at first, of the geography of the earthquake-hit areas, transportation networks, population and structure of these cities, the condition of the buildings, and communication networks. In such case, the instructions they give would be useless. Therefore, the first responders should be local teams that take the initiative without waiting for instructions. They must be well trained and live in areas with low disaster risk.
Obviously, such strong organisation in case of a disaster can only be achieved as a result of an in-depth planning. Accordingly, each organisation and institution should use its own resources to train its personnel accordingly without waiting for the government to do it on behalf of them. While we train the emergency response officers for the anticipated Istanbul earthquake, we also have to prepare ourselves against disaster and anything that might happen in a disaster situation.