Sunday, January 17, 2010

Generating Canada's Response to Haiti

As I sit in my office today I sense the growing frustration among emergency managers emanating from my boss's office.

Several agencies have trained and deployable Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) organizations that exist to help in situations of building collapse etc. This organizations are generally kept on a high state of readiness to respond both inside and outside its jurisdictions. Since yesterday afternoon, many of the larger organizations of been seeking permission and assistance to deploy to Haiti.

Based on some protocols in place no deployment can take place unless OK'd by the Govt of Canada. The Govt of Canada relies on the DART as the nucleus of its response, but by any measure of timely response it is way behind the needed decision cycle.

It appears that part of the problems is diplomacy and the idea that Canada cannot send its Armed Forces into another sovereign nation without invitation. As we can imagine getting a decision from the Haitian Govt took some time. Meanwhile the vast USAR resources of Canada sit by watching their opportunity to rescue live victims diminish with each passing hour.There is no wonder why many aid agencies choose to "go now and seek forgiveness later".

Perhaps its time for the Govt of Canada to ask itself if the Armed Forces is the best agency to lead Canada's disaster assistance capability or whether a civilian agency should lead. Would that speed up deployment and save lives?

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