Lessons from Haiti: emergency responders, government and scholars to meet at York

TORONTO, January 6, 2011 − One year after the Haiti earthquake, representatives of non-governmental organizations, government officials and others who went to Haiti in the weeks and months following the initial disaster will meet at York University to discuss what the emergency management sector has learned from the tragedy and how risk reduction strategies can be improved based on these lessons.

The one-day seminar, on Monday, Jan. 10, has been organized by the Disaster and Emergency Management Program in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, in collaboration with Emergency Management Ontario (EMO), the branch of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services that is responsible for emergency management programs in Ontario.

The Haiti earthquake on January 12, 2010, presented special challenges for first responders, emergency managers, researchers, educators and those responsible for capacity building, largely due to the setting and scale of the initial event and its impact on a particularly vulnerable urban area within a fragile state. Electronic media images quickly conveyed that the world was not able to rapidly relieve human suffering in that situation or provide sustainable solutions to problems related to environmental degradation, poor urban design and underdevelopment.

Representatives of agencies on the ground in Haiti, emergency managers from all levels of government in Canada, and researchers who study disasters and responses, will reflect on experience in Haiti and discuss how to improve capacity to deal with similar events and reduce risks associated with future crises. There will be four panel discussions during the seminar: 

  • First response, search and rescue, emergency operations coordination, mobilization and logistical issues
  • The role of local, national and international media; communications challenges; reality, myths and perception issues
  • Environmental, critical services, health and sanitation issues, urban management and built environment challenges
  • Managing the transition and recovery, coping with the displaced/refugees, rehabilitation and recovery issues. 

Speakers will include representatives from the following organizations: York University, Emergency Management Ontario, Salvation Army, World Vision, Panos Canada and the Caribbean, the Toronto Star, Crisis Camp Toronto, and the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of Waterloo. 

WHAT:             The Haiti Earthquake of January 2010: Lessons Learned
WHEN:             Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, 9am to 5pm
WHERE:           Atkinson College Building, York University, Harry Crowe
Room 109 
MAP:                Keele campus map
PROGRAM:      http://haiti.blog.yorku.ca/about/ 

York University is the leading interdisciplinary research and teaching university in Canada. York offers a modern, academic experience at the undergraduate and graduate level in Toronto, Canada’s most international city. The third largest university in the country, York is host to a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, as well as 200,000 alumni worldwide. York’s 10 Faculties and 28 research centres conduct ambitious, groundbreaking research that is interdisciplinary, cutting across traditional academic boundaries. This distinctive and collaborative approach is preparing students for the future and bringing fresh insights and solutions to real-world challenges. York University is an autonomous, not-for-profit corporation.

Media Contact:

Janice Walls, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100 x22101 / wallsj@yorku.ca
Melissa Hughes, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100 x22097 / mehughes@yorku.ca