Home Health OCD explores partnership with Israel for disaster preparedness

OCD explores partnership with Israel for disaster preparedness

Residents struggle to navigate the floods caused by typhoon Ulyssess in Rodriguez, Rizal. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE PHILIPPINES is looking to partner with Israeli companies to help address the country’s emergency preparedness needs. 

“Israel is also facing challenges in climate change and manmade disasters, and for that we have a lot of knowledge and know-how in dealing with emergency situations,” said Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss in a May 30 event organized by the Israel Embassy in Manila and the Philippine Office of Civil Defense (OCD). “Today is an opportunity to share… how the national and regional agencies can confront [these] challenges.”  

Emergency solutions offered by four Israeli companies were presented: ImageSat International, which provides space-based, geospatial intelligence solutions for defense and security; ELPAM Electronics Ltd., which designs and implements siren systems and trapped people locators; Cinten, which improves emergency response capabilities through the data-driven, real-time simulations in its SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform; and GALMOBILE, which offers a mobile, plug-and-play solution for purifying any water source into potable water within thirty minutes.   

“These four items are the technologies we really need at the OCD,” said Bernardo Rafaelito R. Alejandro IV, OCD assistant secretary and deputy administrator for operations. “We can engage them further through the DoST [Department of Science and Technology] to check on these tools.”  

“In the shopping list of [natural] hazards, we have it all: typhoons, floods, storm surges, earthquakes, tsunamis …,” added Joe-Mar S. Perez, chief of the 24/7 operations center of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. “Because of these risk factors, the Philippine government has a proactive approach to risk management.”  

Included in this approach is a response protocol adopted from the US for on-scene, all-hazard incident management, as well as PhilAWARE, a system created by the Pacific Disaster Center that visualizes disaster situations through layers of maps.  

The government plans to establish alternate government command and control centers, in addition to the one in Central Luzon, according to Mr. Perez. 

In Israel, identifying the gaps between its national goals and its benchmarked threats has helped the country manage disasters at the national and municipal level, per an emergency management expert.  

“If the goal is fresh water and food … it’s not enough to say, ‘I’m going to supply food,’” said Joseph David Shapiro, deputy director of Israel’s national emergency management authority. “You have to explain at what service level [you’re going to] supply that.”  

Governance during an emergency starts with identifying the different agencies that are a part of a particular goal, and then dividing responsibilities into missions to be carried out by the different offices, he said at the same event. 

“If I am in the ministry of energy, how do I supply fuel and energy to the industries that package and supply food? Or, how do I supply fuel to the different trucks that move food from one place to another?” he said.  

Israel’s national goals are grouped into three categories: continuous functionality goals (like transport and security); life texture goals (like shelter and hygiene); and vital goals (like water and medicine).  

Each country will have to consider their actual response to certain scenarios — such as when the personnel tasked to distribute water end up being drafted into the army, or when a power plant is hit by a missile, Mr. Shapiro said.  

“Once I define what my gap and what my ability to respond is, that’s my work plan: how to fill those gaps up and better my preparedness,” he said. — Patricia B. Mirasol