Earlier this week, Chinese capital city Beijing released its first comprehensive emergency response plan to deal with natural disasters, accidents, public health crises and security incidents. Experts say the plan is a big step in improving public safety but there is still much to be done.
People in Beijing still fear the mention of SARS, they still remember the trampling case earlier this year, and face the problems of heavy rainfall and fog that can paralyze traffic.
The new emergency plan is expected to provide a response plan for all these incidents.
The plan identifies 35 types of public emergency in Beijing, and fixes different colors to present the seriousness of the incident and how people and relevant departments should react to it.
Jin Lei, deputy secretary-general of China's Association for Disaster Prevention, believes this comprehensive plan is a signal that the capital is taking concrete steps to improve its emergency response system.
"In a large city like Beijing, it's a breakthrough to see the government starts to notice the importance of a comprehensive disaster prevention system."
Before this plan, there were only emergency plans for specific kind of accidents.
If something complex happened, there was no institution that could coordinate all the different departments.
Now, with the release of this comprehensive plan, a specific office dealing with emergencies has been established to coordinate departments.
Though the plan is a must, it's not the only must.
The disaster prevention expert notes that one should always be prepared for a rainy day. He emphasizes the concept of a sustainable security environment, rather than rushing from one accident to another after they have happened.
"After making the plan, we'll have to establish three mechanisms: an administration mechanism with enough power and staff, a coordination mechanism to link all related departments and a legal mechanism to regulate rights and obligations."
Beijing now is drafting the first regulations relating to disaster prevention and alleviation.
Jin Lei notes that it is encouraging to notice that faced with another New Year and the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing is now speeding up its efforts to make a safer city.
(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2004)