“The world is increasingly vulnerable to emergencies” 
K. Harald Drager, President of The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS)
In four weeks the 22nd Annual Conference of The International Emergency Management Society will kick off. Which top three issues will be on the agenda?
#1: Lessons learned from the Nepal Earthquake, where TIEMS representative in Nepal, Meen Chhetri, will present his observations and lessons learned, followed by a round table conference on the subject.
#2: Sewol Ferry Disaster and Emergency Response Management in Korea, presented by TIEMS Korea Chapter President, Jae-Kwon Kim, where observations and lessons learned from this tragic ship catastrophe will be addressed.
#3: TIEMS GENERATE initiative, by TIEMS Regional Director of North America, Thomas Robertson, presenting TIEMS initiative of a Global Educational Network for Emergency Resilience and Training Excellence, where TIEMS aims to create a network of participating organizations and an online resource to improve access to the world’s collective knowledge and experience in emergency management.
TIEMS is aiming for a safer world, but many people have the feeling that the number of disasters is rising… Are they right or just better informed than in the past?
I think the increasing flow of information and news nowadays brings most disasters into our homes through the different media channels shortly after they have happened, which was not the situation in the past, and this adds to the feeling that the number of disasters is rising.
However, I do also believe that the world is increasingly vulnerable to emergencies, because of climate change, population growth and ageing, urbanization, and other factors. Although the immediate effects of disasters and emergencies are often local, this is an international problem.
The global economy and our transportation, energy, and information infrastructures connect us and make us interdependent, so the impacts of local disasters ripple far and wide. Disasters and emergencies also become international because the global community recognizes a responsibility to bring its resources to the aid of stricken localities.
We are living in a more and more digitised world. How important is your annual congress for the aim and the mission of The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS)?
In TIEMS we do communicate well with the different new channels available for communication, between our directors and officers and with our members and the public, who are reading our newsletters and announcements.
However, meeting each other in person and “feel and touch each other” will never be old fashioned. The annual conference is the opportunity to meet and catch up with both professional and personal friendships, and network and look into cooperation opportunities and build new friendships.
Beyond the technical program, the social events and the cultural heritage of the place for the conference also add to the importance of this event for the aim and mission of TIEMS. The annual conference is also the time for reporting the past and planning the future and for election of the future management of the organization.
Why did you choose Rome as destination?
As an international organization TIEMS moves the annual conference around the world, having TIEMS chapters being the local host every year. Last year the annual conference was in Niigata, Japan, with TIEMS Japan Chapter as host. It was Europe’s turn and TIEMS Italy Chapter was chosen to be the host, and the chapter decided Rome to be the destination for the conference.
Rome is an attractive tourist destination, and TIEMS always integrates the social events with the technical program, in order to give the delegates an understanding of the cultural heritage of the places we visit. This is also important in the context of cultural differences in practical emergency management.
Next year TIEMS annual conference will be in USA with TIEMS USA Chapter as a host, and a prime candidate for 2017 is India with TIEMS India Chapter as a host.
What are the two biggest challenges for TIEMS these days?
#1: TIEMS is a voluntary organization where TIEMS Directors, Officers and Members are unpaid for their work and services for the organization. It is therefore a challenge to find the person/organization with the right resources and opportunity to take on the duty to establish a new chapter and build up TIEMS activity in new countries/regions. TIEMS therefore always seeks cooperation with local authorities which are responsible for the national emergency management and disaster response.
#2: TIEMS has established a Secretariat in Brussels, which is paid for their work and services to TIEMS. The challenge is to be able to finance the secretariat every year. The main sources of income for TIEMS are membership, surplus from conferences and workshops and sponsorships and donations. The challenge is therefore to maintain a steady growth of membership, arrange profitable conferences and workshops, and attract sponsors and donors to support TIEMS aim and mission.
The International Emergency Management Society (TIEMS) is a global forum for education, training, certification and policy in emergency and disaster management. TIEMS is dedicated to developing and bringing the benefits of modern emergency management tools, techniques and good industry practices to society for a safer world. This is accomplished through the exchange of information, methodology innovations and new technologies, to improve society's ability to avoid, mitigate, respond to, and recover from natural and man-made disasters. TIEMS provides a platform for all stakeholders within the global emergency and disaster management community to meet, network and learn about new technical and operational methodologies. It also aims to exchange experiences on good industry practices. This will influence policy makers worldwide to improve global cooperation and to establish global standards within emergency and disaster management. The 22nd Annual Conference of TIEMS will take place from 30 September to 2 October in Rome. w w w. tiems. org