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News | March 3, 2023

Support from Sands Cares Facilitates Americares Emergency Response Simulation in Asia

Disaster relief and preparedness is one of Sands Cares’ core focus areas, as part of the company’s overarching goal to contribute to the strength, resilience and overall vitality of its communities.

In support of this priority, Sands formed a three-year engagement with Americares that began in 2020 to help the health-focused relief and development organization build out its regional response hub in the Philippines and increase the number of trained emergency personnel to enhance Americares emergency response capabilities throughout Southeast Asia.

Through the comprehensive training effort for staff and emergency personnel made possible by Sands Cares, Americares conducted a large-scale regional emergency simulation exercise for the Philippines response hub this past fall. Taking place in Quezon, Philippines, the exercise on Nov. 10, 2022, simulated a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in the metropolitan Manila area. The exercise prepared responders to assess health facilities and provide clinical care and health promotion activities in the immediate aftermath of emergencies.

Involving nearly 60 staff and roster members from the Philippines and Indonesia, the Americares emergency response simulation tested participants’ abilities to take cover during the earthquake, activate an emergency operations center when safe to do so, and deploy emergency response teams to distribute essential relief supplies and provide on-the-ground medical and mental health services in identified areas of need. Participants engaged in role-playing exercises to practice triaging patients, providing wound care, performing hand-washing demonstrations and conducting community-based mental health activities.

Emergency responders also practiced communicating and coordinating with partners, city and health officials, and other first responders, and the involvement of local and regional officials in the exercise created additional value. Participants included the mayor of Quezon city, the chief superintendent of the Philippine National Police as well as representatives of the Quezon Social Welfare Development Department, the Quezon Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, and the Department of Public Order and Safety, among others.

“This exercise brought together long-term and new staff, as well as emergency response roster volunteers, to create a space for learning and ultimately increase our response efficacy,” said Americares interim vice president of emergency programs Betsy Warfield, a readiness expert who participated in the drill. “The Americares emergency response exercise was successful because of the extensive readiness and response framework made possible by Sands’ support of Americares over the past three years. With Sands support, we’ve grown our roster of responders from 20 to 181 people from four countries.”

After completing the simulation exercise, Americares conducted a thorough review of its teams’ responses to identify areas for improvement. Two of its biggest findings were the need for seamless communication during a disaster and the opportunity to provide more in-person training and engagement, not only on Americares systems and processes, but also in fields of specialization. Due to the overwhelming success of this exercise, Americares will begin to roll out similar exercises across other regions as well as at its global headquarters in Connecticut.

To learn more about Sands’ work to aid disaster preparedness and response efforts in its host regions, read the 2021 ESG Report:

Three people are pictured standing at a table, washing their hands in colorful buckets filled with soapy water. Two peoples’ hands are pictured scrubbing between their fingers.
As part of an Americares emergency response simulation, staff and roster members demonstrate handwashing.