City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management Centre respond to thousands of incidents annually
The City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management Centre (DRMC) responded to 3 760 emergencies between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022. This included three frontal storm systems that hit the city, the explosion at Denel in November 2021, the Table Mountain/UCT and Parliament fire this year and the COVID-19 national state of disaster. “The DRMC’s main objective is to reduce or avoid the potential loss which may be caused due to a hazard or disaster. They’re also there to ensure that a response is fast, appropriate assistance is rendered to victims and the necessary steps are taken to ensure effective recovery. Disaster management ensures the incident is not extended or causes further trauma and suffering,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.
The DRMC undertakes daily assessments of incidents, coordinates relief requests to support affected communities, coordinates disaster risk reduction initiatives and responds and coordinates support for major events and incidents.
In addition to the four major incidents and three storm events, the Disaster Management Coordinating Team was activated for the July 2021 social disorder and taxi violence that rocked the country, the 2021 Local Government elections, the 2021/2022 festive season and the State of the Nation Address in February.
While the pandemic restrictions halted full-scale readiness exercises, the DRMC continued with these in desktop format, including Koeberg nuclear power station exercises and a maritime rescue with the Robben Island Museum.
“Disasters affect thousands of lives each year. How we prepare and deal with these incidents, is key to saving lives, reducing the impact on affected communities and the subsequent recovery time. Many of these major incidents, such as storms, are not within our control, but we can do our best to prepare to deal with the consequences and help communities. The DRMC is at the frontline of that response and I commend them for their ongoing mitigations to limit the impact of disasters,” said Alderman Smith.
The DRMC has a staff complement of 80, with a volunteer corps of more than 480 members.
While the lockdown curtailed much of the centre’s activities, they still managed 265 sessions in at risk communities to create awareness of fire and floods and completed more than 500 COVID-19 public education and awareness outreaches with their loud hailing programme in congregate settings such as shopping malls, residential areas and informal settlements.
In addition, the DRMC coordinates the winter readiness task team, which involves all the City’s directorates and a number of external partners such as provincial government, SAPS, the SPCA and the NSRI.
More recently, it was also at the centre of coordinating the City’s efforts to mitigate higher stages of load-shedding, with the activation of the Disaster Operations Centre in June 2022.
“There are so many role-players involved when something happens, and it can be quite chaotic without the right coordination. We often focus on the frontline staff members and their role is critical, but the Disaster Management Centre is often at the heart of many of our responses. Tucked away in the background, but having a most profound impact on our responses to emergencies and other public safety issues,” added Alderman Smith.
Source: City of Cape Town Media Office