APELL and Natural Disasters
In recent years many communities, have experienced widespread destruction, causing devastation for people and damage to the environment.
There have always been, and always will be, floods, storms, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, tsunamis and other disasters, but the patterns of modern life are exposing more communities to danger then ever before. At no time in history have so many people lived in cities close to seismic areas, and destitution and poverty are leading more and more people to live in flood plains or areas prone to landslides. Mitigation of the impacts of disasters linked with efforts to alleviate poverty and improve sanitation is undoubtedly one of today's major global challenges.
When sudden disaster strikes, rescuers often have only a short time-sometimes no more than 24 hours-in which they can expect to find survivors. Disaster experts refer to the 'golden hours', meaning the initial period when a rapid response capability is vital, and when preparedness (or lack of it!) can make all the difference.
Experience has shown, time and again, that it is local people who are best placed to save lives and to coordinate the return to normality.
Disasters inevitably bring about crises. It is the degree to which people are prepared for disaster that determines how vulnerable or resilient their community will be.
APELL, standing for Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at the Local Level, is a process designed to create public awareness of hazards and to ensure that communities and emergency services are adequately trained and prepared to respond.
The impacts of disasters can be substantially reduced if surrounding communities and emergency services are fully informed about possible hazards, and have been educated about risk management and crisis management plans. Community awareness and involvement are key factors in mitigating and limiting the impacts of disaster, they are also key aspects of the APELL process.
An important aspect of APELL is flexibility. Although the process addresses a common need-improving communities' abilities to cope with the impacts of all disasters-it does not mean imposing a 'one-size-fits-all' solution. APELL provides an overall organizational framework that builds on existing emergency plans. The process can also be integrated into disaster planning at local, national and international levels.
Wherever it is applied, APELL's goals remain the same: to prevent loss of life; to avoid property damage; and to ensure environmental safety in the local community.