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US and New Zealand Sign Memorandum to Strengthen Emergency Management Collaboration

The US has recently concluded similar agreements with Spain, Germany, France, Israel, Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada. (see also http://www.aofs.org/hs-bilateral-agreements-us/ )  –

President Obama and Ambassador Mike Moore

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and New Zealand Ambassador to the United States Mike Moore today signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) strengthening emergency management cooperation between the United States and New Zealand-enhancing disaster response and recovery capabilities in both nations through improved information sharing and collaboration.

“Close collaboration with our international partners is essential to building our resilience to disasters,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I look forward to working with our emergency management partners in New Zealand to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and keep our citizens safe.”

The MOC between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and New Zealand’s Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management establishes a framework for information sharing and emergency management cooperation-including the exchange of lessons learned from previous disasters and exercises as well as best practices regarding education and training, public awareness efforts, community and organizational resilience and risk assessment. The MOC also provides opportunities for joint research and coordination on emergency management.

While the United States and New Zealand have offered each other disaster assistance in the past, this MOC is the first formal memorandum between the countries’ emergency management agencies. Secretary Napolitano and Ambassador Moore were joined by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness Tim Manning for the official signing.

In January this year, the United States and New Zealand signed an agreement to enhance cooperation in science and technology research to improve the shared capabilities of both nations to protect against acts of terrorism and other threats to domestic and external security.

“The Agreement on Science and Technology Cooperation Contributing to Domestic and External Security Capabilities strengthens New Zealand’s longstanding relationship with the U.S. in research science and technology,” said New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully. “Under the Agreement New Zealand transport security and civil defense emergency management researchers will now benefit from collaborative project work with their U.S. counterparts.”

The Agreement calls for close cooperation between the US and New Zealand on the development of threat and vulnerability analyses and new technologies, and strengthened collaboration on border and transport security and civil defense emergency management.

The Agreement draws on the collective technical expertise of government scientists from both countries, and encourages robust participation by universities, non-profit organization and the private sector through public-private partnerships and collaborative funding.

[…] When it comes to learning to preparing, we could all follow Switzerland’s example, as they have the highest level of civil defense, making sure every new building is equipped with bomb shelters and blast doors is just one way they make sure their people are prepared for a crisis. Since the 1970′s, Switzerland’s building codes have required the incorporation of hardened shelters into the construction of new apartment buildings, homes, businesses, churches, hospitals, and factories.  Underground bomb shelters must be built to rigid government specifications and utilize only components approved by the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Defense (BZS).  This demand for approved shelter equipment created a national industry in Switzerland which continues to this day.  If threatened, the Swiss can shelter its entire population of seven and one half million citizens in blast hardened shelters on short notice. The population of Switzerland is well trained in subjects ranging from weapons effects, first aid, shelter management, and rescue techniques.  Shelter drills are conducted along with large scale exercises to familiarize the citizenry with shelter life.  It only follows that many millions of man-hours of experience have been gained from these exercises, and modifications to shelters and related equipment designs have evolved into today’s proven shelter component lineup.  In addition, the Swiss government testing agencies have conducted numerous (and on-going) destructive testing of shelter designs and components.  This is done by building prototype shelters and then challenging them with live high explosive ordnance.  Because For more on this topic you can read: http://aofs.org/2010/12/10/us-and-new-zealand-sign-memorandum-to-strengthen-emergency-management-col… […]

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