Disaster management expert helps with Kinsale recovery

One of the world’s leading disaster management experts is helping Kinsale businesses recover from Covid-19.
Disaster management expert helps with Kinsale recovery

Looking forward to opening up is Ciaran Fitzgerald outdide the Blue Haven in Kinsale. Picture Dan Linehan
Looking forward to opening up is Ciaran Fitzgerald outdide the Blue Haven in Kinsale. Picture Dan Linehan

One of the world’s leading disaster management experts is helping Kinsale businesses recover from Covid-19.

Until January, Dr Ian Norton had been running the World Health Organization Emergency Medical Team (EMT) Initiative program since 2014.

Since leaving, he has set up a global disaster management consultancy based in Australia.

The specialist emergency physician was approached by Kinsale’s Chamber of Commerce and Tourism for advice.

A former wing forward in a UCD team he routinely fielded at the Kinsale 7s rugby festivals in the past, the west Cork native jumped at the chance.

Chamber chair Ciaran Fitzgerald said: “He did it as a favour for us.

“He loves Kinsale and has family connections here.

“He’s assisting us with anything we want and sends us various reports and research documentation he gets in Australia, where he lives.

“Ian is working in a town similar to Kinsale over there, who are opening up ahead of us.

“He has sent us information and research we are using for our strategy to recover from Covid-19.”

Since leaving the WHO, he has set up and run the Australian-based Respond Global consultancy.

It, among other things, advises businesses on how to get back to work after dealing with disasters.

The advice he is giving the Kinsale Chamber of Commerce and Tourism is partly based on the experience Dr Norton gained while helping west African countries deal with Ebola.

While with the WHO, he deployed for over 5 months to West Africa as part of the Ebola outbreak response in 2014 and 2015.

He coordinated the operations of 58 emergency medical teams (EMTs) assigned across three countries.

Dr Norton also led the coordination of 132 EMTs in Nepal during the earthquakes of April and May 2015.

And in 2016, he coordinated the WHO's first-of-its-kind trauma response for injured civilians during the Battle of Mosul, which was one of the largest urban sieges since World War II.

The actions of the team he coordinated in northern Iraq saved the lives of up to 1,800 people.

Kinsale, which depends heavily on a tourist season that effectively ends in October, has been devastated by Covid-19.

Bookings right across its award-winning pubs, restaurants and hotels - which amount for most of the business in the scenic seaside town - have all but vanished.

"My association with Kinsale is of friends and family living and working there and being there for holidays in the 20 years since leaving Ireland (and) in playing the Kinsale 7s rugby tournaments for years and various other trips since childhood.

"It's very similar to Noosa where I now work, as a top tier tourist destination with a strong domestic market as well as being internationally loved.

"This brings benefits but also potential risks in COVID reopening."

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