Seminar looks to Haiti earthquake to learn lessons for future disasters

How can disasters such as last year’s earthquake in Haiti be responded to faster and better? That’s the challenge speakers, first-response practitioners, emergency managers, researchers and educators will discuss at the Haiti Earthquake of Jan. 2010: Lessons Learned seminar next week at York.

The seminar, being held one year after the earthquake, will take place Monday, Jan. 10, from 9am to 5pm, in the Harry Crowe Room, 109 Atkinson Building, Keele campus. It is hosted by York’s School of Administrative Studies Disaster & Emergency Management Program in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies in collaboration with Emergency Management Ontario.

Right: The earthquake in Haiti caused widespread damage. Photo by Marco Dormino of the United Nations

It will look at what lessons can be learned from the Haiti earthquake and how societal resilience, humanitarian response and the handling of similar future events can be improved. The Haiti earthquake presented a special challenge for first-response practitioners, emergency managers, researchers, educators and those responsible for capacity building because of its setting, the scale of the initial event and its impact on a particularly vulnerable urbanized area of a fragile state.

Michael Morton of Emergency Management Ontario and Jeff Noel, a logistical officer with the Salvation Army, will discuss first response, search and rescue, emergency operations coordination, mobilization and logistical issues as part of the first panel.

In the second panel, Jean Claude Louis of Panos Canada and the Caribbean will join Heather Leson of Crisis Camp Toronto and Ken Kidd of the Toronto Star in looking at the “Role of the Local, National and International Media; Communication Challenges; Reality, Myths and Perception Issues”.

John Coo of Green Cross Canada will discuss the topic of “Environmental, Critical Services, Health and Sanitation Issues, Urban Management and Built Environment Challenges” in the third panel.

In the fourth panel, the topic of “Managing the Transition and Recovery, Coping with the Displaced/Refugees, Rehabilitation and Recovery Issues” will be tackled Mike Weickert of World Vision Canada and Stephen Evans, associate chair of the University of Waterloo’s Earth & Environmental Sciences.

For more information or to register, visit The Haiti Earthquake: Lessons Learned seminar website or e-mail