UN Staff Simulate Tsunami Evacuation

Mar 29, 2017

In support of CARIBE WAVE 2017, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Barbados facilitated an office tsunami evacuation exercise on March 23, 2017, for the United Nations (UN) House and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/ World Health Organization (WHO).   This exercise was executed to highlight the importance of tsunami preparedness and to equip United Nations personnel with the knowledge of what to do in the event of a tsunami warning.

The objectives of this exercise were to test the communication method of a tsunami warning to staff and personnel within UN House and PAHO/WHO, as well as to build awareness of the tsunami assembly point and evacuation route, through the evacuation of the UN House and PAHO/WHO.  During this evacuation exercise, a tsunami warning was issued and United Nations personnel evacuated their offices and briskly walked to a tsunami assembly point located on higher ground.  Those with limited mobility who were unable to walk to the assembly point evacuated to the roof of the UN House.  In the event of an actual tsunami warning, it is imperative that people located in coastal areas move to high ground or inland immediately.  If there is no time or if it is not possible to go to high ground or inland, the next best option is to go to the roof or top floor of a concrete and steel enforced building as practiced in this simulation exercise.

There were one hundred UN staff and personnel from seven UN agencies that participated in the simulation.  The agencies involved included the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Women, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), PAHO/WHO, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and International Telecommunication Union (ITU).  A brief After Action Review (AAR) was conducted immediately after the exercise in which strengths, gaps and areas for improvement were documented to ensure that everyone is prepared in a real event.

Being prepared builds resilience and could potentially save lives and reduce the risk of injury during a hazard event.  Simulation exercises such as the one practiced on March 23rd are critical to tsunami preparedness and are just one way in which agencies can prepare for potential hazards.  Exercises such as this one will be practiced regularly to keep the Standard Operating Procedure fresh in the minds of those working in the United Nations House and PAHO/WHO buildings.  

For more information on tsunami preparedness or CARIBE WAVE, kindly visit the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency website