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Special Lecture:The Evolution of Disaster Management and Crisis Communications

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Toyo University Special Lecture
The Evolution of Disaster Management and Crisis Communications

Special LectureThe morning of Wednesday July 12th brought a vibrant young Canadian into Toyo University to share experiences, observations, and lessons learned from disasters around the world. Suzanne Bernier, an emergency management and business continuity consultant gave first-hand insight into a range of disaster situations including tornadoes, hurricanes, infectious diseases, terrorist attacks, and cyber-terrorism.

Suzanne quoted a Malay proverb, “just because the river is quiet does not mean the crocodiles have left” to illustrate the need for communities to be prepared.  Prevention requires basic steps and year round awareness as disasters are not necessarily seasonal.  Plans should be community-based and focused on prevention.  She strongly emphasized that “community” was the key to preparedness.

She talked in detail on the change in the role of news agencies due to the emergence of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. It is now becoming more commonly understood that social media can play an important role during a crisis.  Such media channels can keep people informed and can be used to quash rumors.

Special LectureSuzanne also used a Japanese proverb “The reputation of a thousand years may be deterred by the conduct of an hour.” In other words, it is during a crisis that that we will really see how well a community can function. First responders have learned to adapt and now can wisely use social media in a crisis to help serve disaster hit communities.

Suzanne’s recently published book Disaster Heroes tells the stories of ordinary men, women, and children who have done extraordinary things to help respond, recover, and rebuild following some of the world’s most significant disasters. One of the chapters in the book featured Nobuyuki Kobayashi who used his skill as a professional photography to help heal the traumatic wounds left in residents’ hearts and minds after the Fukushima disaster. He attended this lecture and gave a short overview of his activities.

Due to the interesting nature of the talk the time passed quickly. Suzanne and Nobuyuki served as an inspiration to the lecture participants.

Special Lecture