Jordan Prepares for National Earthquake Response Exercise
Unpredictable Grounds: Simulating Quakes
In the wake of a succession of earthquakes around the region, most notably in Morocco, the National Center for Security and Crisis Management in Jordan has announced plans for a national field exercise this September. The drill, explained Dr. Ahmed Al-Naimat, the Director of the Center, will encompass a simulated “moving earthquake” whose time and location will not be disclosed to field teams ahead of time.
Information about the virtual quake will be relayed from the National Crisis Management Center to field operations rooms within various national departments and institutions across Jordan to evaluate the speed of response and the effectiveness of the plans laid out in the national earthquake handling blueprint,” Al-Naimat elaborated.
From Past Learnings to Present Updating
Launched in 2019, the Jordanian National Plan for dealing with earthquakes has been continually optimized in the light of experiences within the region and the wider international landscape. Al-Naimat identifies a series of regional tremors as the key driver prompting the update of the Plan in 2022, noting also that the inclusion of engineering and contracting unions has enriched its effectiveness.
United in Preparedness: Collaborative Drills
Approximately 50 partners are to participate in the exercise, a list that includes the Armed Forces, security agencies, ministries, and national institutions. Al-Naimat also spoke about the role of volunteers and professional associations as they work in tandem with international organizations to execute the hypothetical scenarios planned for the exercise. Each entity will apply prior training to perform the required tasks, as Al-Naimat pointed out.
Among the gamut of scenarios planned, Al-Naimat mentioned such instances as testing the ability to evacuate schools, factories, and facilities that house hazardous and explosive materials. Also, the exercise will attempt to manage scenarios such as a port shutdown, alternative ports’ usage, and dealing with disruptions in air navigation, especially in the context of international assistance and its effective delivery, storage, distribution, and management. Al-Naimat estimates that around 3,000 individuals are likely to be actively involved in the exercise on the ground.
Facing the Worst: Building Resilience
The Center builds scenarios for multifarious natural calamities, pointed out Al-Naimat, with special emphasis on preparing for the worst-case scenario – a major earthquake. The deteriorative effects of an influential earthquake are vast – from a water crisis caused by sewage mixing, hospitals functioning through power outages, an increase in the number of patients, fatalities, and injuries, to public road disruptions and the consequent traffic redirection. But, despite these potentially stifling conditions, the exercise aims to measure the state’s ability to continue functioning normally.
The core purpose is to identify gaps and strength areas to mitigate weaknesses and leverage strengths, highlighted Al-Naimat. The exercise will undergo assessment through three teams: national, internal (center), and international.
Creating a Robust Human Shield
Al-Naimat shared that Jordan possesses various layers of human resources available in case of disasters: a heavy international rescue team, trained rescuers, and volunteers. Precautionary to its core, these measures are not a sign of panic as per Al-Naimat. Especially since Jordan has not witnessed a major earthquake in the past, with no earthquake beyond 6.6 on the Richter scale registered in approximately 700 years in the Kingdom.
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