Following a disaster,
factors such as number of victims, communication failures, and road blockages
will prevent people from accessing emergency services they have come to expect
at a moment's notice through 911. People will have to rely on each other for
help in order to meet their immediate life-saving and life-sustaining needs.
expects that under these kinds of conditions, family members, fellow employees,
and neighbors will spontaneously try to help each other. This was the case
following the Mexico City earthquake where untrained, spontaneous volunteers
saved 800 people. However, 100 people lost their lives while attempting to save
others. This is a high price to pay and is preventable through training.
If we can
predict that emergency services will not meet immediate needs following a major
disaster, especially if there is no warning as in an earthquake, and people
will spontaneously volunteer, what can government do to prepare citizens for
present citizens the facts about what to expect following a major disaster in
terms of immediate services. Second, give the message about their
responsibility for mitigation and preparedness. Third, train them in needed
life-saving skills with emphasis on decision making skills, rescuer safety, and
doing the greatest good for the greatest number. Fourth, organize teams so that
they are an extension of first responder services offering immediate help to
victims until professional services arrive.