PREPARE Program WCEE 2017

World Conference on Earthquake Engineering
January 2017

The United States Agency for International Development / Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) Preparing Rescue and Emergency Personnel to Ameliorate the Response to Earthquakes (PREPARE) Program is a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) program aimed at strengthening the ability of Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams and key local institutions to respond to urban earthquakes by helping these teams better understand the probable impacts of earthquakes on urban areas and plan accordingly. The primary goal of PREPARE is to provide city officials and first responders with a clearer picture of the probable impact of an earthquake, build their USAR response skills and help them improve their risk management capacity. The program is taking place in two high risk cities in Latin America: San José, Costa Rica and Pasto, Colombia.

The PREPARE program has three principal components. The first phase of the program is identification of earthquake risk. This is done by studying the seismic hazards and building types to determine the probabilistic damage for each city and then will work with local structural engineers, city officials and USAR teams to identify key buildings likely to require special attention after an earthquake. This analysis also will provide critical information about the probable impact of earthquakes on the overall building stock, which can guide response planning.

The second and third phases are planning for the response, damage assessment and capacity building. In the immediate aftermath of an earthquake, local USAR teams need to know which buildings they can and cannot enter. In the days and weeks that follow, the local population needs to know if their homes are safe for occupation. City officials will need to know how to estimate volume to create a Post-Disaster Debris Management Plan to deal with the rubble a disaster generates. Based on the results of risk assessment, structural engineers and earthquake disaster specialists will work with city officials, USAR teams and professional organizations to determine how emergency responders are supported and how best to implement damage assessments. And lastly, USAR specialists will work with the local USAR teams to help them to understand and assess probable building collapse scenarios.

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