written by Ryan Lock, Natural Hazards Unit Manager and Planning Section Chief, Florida Division of Emergency Management
As a state emergency management professional, I do not often have the chance to discuss disaster-related issues with international counterparts. As such, I was thrilled to be able to participate in the reciprocal component of the Young South East Asian Leaders Initiative Fellowship in the Philippines with the Philippines Disaster Resiliency Foundation. During this program, I was able to engage in the World Food Program’s Field Logistics Emergency Exercise where I was able to work alongside with professionals from the Philippines, Cambodia, the Red Cross, the United Nations, and others. Being able to see these partners in action coordinating an integrated international response was a unique experience. Afterwards, I was able to do site visits have discussions with multiple disaster partners. From these visits, I found that Florida and the Philippines share the same issues when it comes to emergency management. Despite this, we are working to resolve them in different ways, coming up with different solutions, and sometimes making the same mistakes. Opportunities such as this fellowship provide the venue for dialogue and the establishment of lasting sharing that otherwise would not exist. While The Philippines and Florida may never have to coordinate with each other during a disaster, the experiences, best-practices, and efforts of one are useful for the other. I am incredibly thankful for being able to participate in the program, and look forward to the continued sharing of information and ideas.