Japan Tragedy Reaffirms Need for Emergency Planning

Campuses can do their parts to make sure they and their communities are ready for a disaster.

The events that have been unfolding in Japan serve as a stark reminder of just how quickly emergency preparedness measures can become all important. In our busy world, it is easy and all too common for real emergency preparedness to be an afterthought. 

With multiple events that would each qualify as major national disasters occurring so closely together in Japan, the highly competent and well prepared public safety officials in that country are rising to the occasion while facing incredible challenges. Catastrophic events of this scale throughout history illustrate just how fast we can face massive life and death struggles. Truly world-class emergency preparedness requires a world-class commitment far in advance of a crisis event. 

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As the situations around Japan continue to unfold and more information becomes available, we will surely see how emergency preparedness measures that have been put into place over decades make a difference not only at the international and national level, but at the regional and site level. 

These events demonstrate that while individual campus organizations often have limited control over international, national and state emergency preparedness capabilities, they can better prepare their organizations to receive support. They also can significantly affect how well prepared their own organization is. In addition, campus organizations can and often do provide some influence on the level of emergency preparedness in local emergency response organizations. There have been a number of instances where some of the best training, drills and exercises are provided by a campus organization. 

Like our own experiences of September 11, 2001, the crisis in Japan may seem to be so massive as to be insurmountable. But like the response to the tragedy of these horrible attacks has shown, determined Americans and organizations rose to the challenge.  In the same manner, the people of Japan seem determined to find ways to cope with the highly challenging and complex situations.  

As catastrophic events around the globe, their impact on vast numbers of people and the nation’s economy, as well as many other aspects of Japanese society are of such scale as to be difficult to comprehend. The many efforts to protect people from such tragedies are now being put to the test. Though there will continue to be tough times ahead in Japan, every viable investment in emergency preparedness that has been made by that country has surely been well spent.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Japan.

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About the Author


Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at mike@weakfish.org. Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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