Officials to Train on Tsunami Awareness & Response
Experts to conduct recently-certified course; Guam Homeland Security/Civil Defense officials seek certification to provide training to more people
March 22, 2011
First responders, emergency management personnel, mayors and other officials will be trained on the latest in tsunami awareness, preparation and response best practices Wednesday and Thursday.
Geophysicist Dr. Gerard Fryer and tsunami expert Brian Yanagi are on Guam from Hawaii to conduct a Tsunami Awareness Course. The course was piloted in Guam last July. It was certified and accredited by the National Disaster Pacific Training Center just last December. The timing of this training on Guam is a coincidence. This course was scheduled to be administered well before the incident in Japan.
“This is part of our ongoing efforts at Guam Homeland Security/Civil Defense to keep the community apprised of best practices,” Civil Defense Administrator Chuck Ada said. “We always strive to be prepared with the latest techniques and best practices that will help save lives and protect people in the event of a disaster.”
Yanagi is a disaster management specialist and manager of the International Tsunami Information Center. The center is based in Hawaii.
Yanagi says community awareness and education on tsunamis that could affect Guam is critical. He said a tsunami generated by a big earthquake in the Marianas could potentially arrive on shore in less than 10 minutes. The potential arrival time of a tsunami generated from an earthquake source zone surrounding Guam is between two to three hours. He says tsunamis can happen here, and they have in the past.
“We want to channel the world’s fears and concerns in to something positive, and that is community awareness and resilience,” Yanagi said.
Dr. Fryer says scientists currently are assessing new techniques and technology that will allow officials to offer public estimates of tsunami wave heights. This information is provided in Japan, but not in the U.S. at this time, because it still is under scientific peer review.
“We really want to do our darndest to provide tsunami warnings to Guam,” Dr. Fryer said. “As techniques and equipment get better, those responses will be faster.”
“People need to know some estimate of wave height,” Dr. Fryer said. “We’re hoping to get this done in a few months.”
Even with all the improvements officials are making to tsunami tracking, the officials contend the most important part about these efforts is community awareness and education.
Governor Eddie Baza Calvo is in full support of Guam Homeland Security/Civil Defense efforts to become proficient in the latest best practices, and to begin training as many in the community about awareness, preparation and response residents can undertake before, during and after a tsunami. Civil Defense has been extremely successful in its outreach programs. The agency has trained more than 5,000 residents in weapons of mass destruction threat response. Civil Defense personnel also actively engage the public in education campaigns related to typhoon preparation, biological threats, etc.
“We have very dedicated emergency management personnel leading the island’s preparation efforts in case of a disaster,” Governor Calvo said. “We take the threat of disasters very seriously. We want the public to know we’re pursuing every resource and doing everything we can to keep Guam safe.”
The course is taking place at the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa. Government first responders, emergency management personnel, the mayors and vice mayors of Guam, and officials from the National Weather Service and non-governmental organizations are taking the course. Unfortunately, both days are filled to capacity.
Ada says the agency is pursuing trainer certification from the National Disaster Pacific Training Center for this specific course in addition to others so Civil Defense officials can conduct the course to more people.
Please call Alyssa Benito at 688-2824 or 475-9600; or, Troy Torres at 486-8887 or 475-9304 for more information.

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