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Emergency expert tells how to play it safe

By Patrick Nelson

Andrew Warton will provide the keynote address during Safety Awareness Week Andrew Warton will provide the keynote address during Safety Awareness Week

A man who awoke to the shudders of an earthquake that killed 80,000 people will be the keynote speaker at Charles Darwin University’s first Safety Awareness Week this month.

Recently appointed Northern Territory Emergency Services Director, Andrew Warton will speak about CDU’s roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency or disaster.

Mr Warton also will discuss the importance of safety and planning at CDU and in the broader Territory context, and will outline the roles of the NT Emergency Services and the NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services during a disaster.

Mr Warton served in East Timor, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Samoa during a 19-year career with the Australian Federal Police.

He was in Pakistan about 100km from the epicentre of a large earthquake that struck in 2005.

“I awoke one Saturday morning to see all the walls moving; [I] felt this terrible shaking,” Mr Warton told ABC radio Darwin’s Guestroom.

“… Within 10km of where I was at my house a [block of flats] fell down and killed about 120 people.”

Mr Warton was attached to foreign police services during the United Nations mission to East Timor in 2002 and during Tropical Cyclone Evan, the worst tropical cyclone to hit Samoa in recent years.

CDU Manager, Emergency and Risk Management Jo Miller said Mr Warton’s address would highlight the messages that the CDU community needed to stay safe and build personal resilience.

“We will hear the personal stories, reflections and lessons of people who have survived earthquakes, cyclones and floods.

“We will also hear from those involved in planning and preparing to avoid or minimise risk, both personally and in the university environment.”

Ms Miller said a broad range of safety-related issues would be discussed during the week-long event including cyber safety, bullying, ergonomics, hazardous chemical handling and storage, first aid, work safety in remote locations, infectious diseases and food safety.

Safety Awareness Week is scheduled for 13-17 October. See the Safety Awareness Week webpage for a full program of events.