Medical Relief After Earthquakes
It's Time for a New Paradigm
Published in: Annals of Emergency Medicine, v. 59, no. 3, Mar. 2012, Editorial, p. 188-190
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This editorial examines the performance of urban search and rescue teams that responded to major earthquake disasters in Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, Haiti, New Zealand, and Japan over the last decade. The authors call for development of policy to optimize the mix of personnel involved in global relief efforts. To ensure that the next global response is more effective than the last, they recommend that national organizations and major nongovernmental organizations that regularly participate in disaster relief should regularly convene under the auspices of the United Nations Disaster Advisory Committee or the United Nations's Office of Civil and Humanitarian Assistance to share their experiences, offer insights, and critique their response in a nonjudgmental way. Each meeting should produce an official "after-action report" that addresses, at a minimum, how the host country's needs were ascertained; what personnel, equipment, and supplies were sent; how arriving teams and resources were staged; how transportation and security were arranged; how various groups interacted with the host country, the local population, and one another; and the ultimate effect of the effort.