The exercise yesterday included air-sea rescues as well as the recovery of “victims” from heavily damaged buildings, with emergency-response teams called into action to provide immediate medical assistance.
The simulation was based on a Phuket being struck by a tsunami that originated from an earthquake near the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, some 540km direct west of Phuket, and also where several minor earthquakes occurred earlier this year. In the simulation, teams responded to a communications systems failures with many houses, properties and natural resources damaged – and many local residents and tourists injured or lost.
The exercise in Phuket was part of the Integrated Disaster Management Exercise (IDMEx 2019) for disaster prevention and mitigation in the event of a tsunami disaster, explained Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda, whose ministry also oversees the national Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation (DDPM).
IDMEx 2019 saw all six Andaman coast provinces – Phuket, Phang Nga, Krabi, Ranong, Trang and Satun – carry out their own disaster-response exercises, including tsunami-evacuation drills such as the one held in Patong on June 25. (See story here.)
“The government has given priority to systematic and unified emergency preparedness and response procedures, especially for tsunami disasters, which in 2004 saw the six coastal provinces of the Andaman Sea damaged by a tsunami,” Gen Anupong said.
“This caused a lot of loss of life and property, and impacted the economy and the mental state of the people,” he added.
“IDMEx 2019 is considered the first integrated national training in the preparation and response of a tsunami. The aim was to test the warning notification process and safe evacuation of people, the comprehensive management of the impact of the tsunami, and to build confidence among people and tourists in the potential and readiness of the government’s disaster management,” Gen Anupong explained.
Gen Anupong added that IDMEx 2019 is a way to encourage all organisations to understand their duties and roles in the disaster prevention and mitigation plan at provincial and national levels, and to understand the factors of success for improvement and being a model for effectively emergency situation management.
“IDMEx 2019 is considered as a way to encourage all departments to understand their roles… it is also a way to identify problems that are weaknesses so that we can improve and develop the tsunami management approach and create a model for furthering the country's emergency management for maximum efficiency,” he said.