Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, or SBY, President of Indonesia (left) Wayne Ulrich (centre) and myself (right) discussing disaster response in Indonesia. After our meeting, the President announced he is sending a rescue and relief team to Haiti, along with relief supplies, to support the earthquake victims.Photo: Ahmad Husein
After being totally immersed in disaster response and recovery for the last three and a half years in Indonesia, it was such a joy today to spend half a day participating in a high level disaster simulation exercise at Halim airbase in Jakarta. Police, Army, Airforce, key Government disaster agencies, rescue services, Indonesian Red Cross, private communication companies and many others, were there to practice disaster response, rescue and health services.
I always enjoy spending time with the volunteers that are the backbone of Red Cross. I was a volunteer in New Zealand with the Red Cross, and find my motivation is rekindled after spending time with them. From a practical point of view, training days like this ramp up your coordination and delivery skills.
But while the simulation exercise was going on, I couldn't help but think of the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who are awaiting the start of a global rescue effort in the wake of the country's devastating earthquake.
On the BBC this morning, the correspondents say the situation is increasingly desperate, with no coordinated rescue plan so far and aid only trickling in.
The search for survivors continues but rescuers have little lifting equipment and are often using their bare hands.
Tens of thousands are feared dead and up to three million affected. How lucky Indonesia is to have a President who ran a highly successful Tsunami operation and is be preparing for the next big disaster. Preparedness, training and testing your systems regularly is the key to improved disaster response. My thoughts and prayers are going out to all those affected and grieving families. I had the opportunity today to spend 3 or 4 minutes chatting with the President of indonesia today and he thanked the Red Cross for its efforts in the past and hoped we would continue to support the PMI and Government in terms of response preparedness. He also announced later that Indonesia was sending a rescue and relief team to Haiti, along with relief supplies, to support the earthquake victims.
The airforce performed some stunning rescues, Photo: Ahmad Husein
Wayne Ulrich (l) and myself with PMI water and sanitation volunteers
. We worked with them 3 months ago in the West Sumatra earthquake where they were providing half a million litres of quality drinking water daily. A great team. Two new PMI amphibious vehicles that the PMI had on display.
Three days ago the Indonesian Red Cross Chairman, Jusuf Kalla, donated two helicopters to the PMI. This is brilliant as in a country where you have a disaster a day, helicopters give you immediate access and you can save so many lives. Photo: Ahmad Husein