Every family should know how to save itself if emergency services cannot help after a natural disaster or terrorist attack, relief specialists say. Everyone should have a week’s supply of food and water in their home and access to first-aid kits, medicines, water and other essentials in their car, office and school, said Linda Sperberg, the projects manager for the Tadreeb National Training company, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi government. Pre-arranged meeting places would help families to reunite if their members became separated.
“In a situation like a hurricane or an earthquake, you might have 10,000 people needing help and not everyone is going to be able to be helped at once,” she said. “For the emergency services it is a matter of priorities. If there is a flood and some houses have a metre of water in them and others have a few centimetres, it is the people suffering the most who are going to be dealt with first. People need to figure out what to do themselves and they need to be proactive and work it out in advance.”
Speaking at the Advanced Disaster Medical Response Conference at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research in Abu Dhabi yesterday, Mrs Sperberg said the Government was prepared to deal with a range of risks, including flooding, fires, heat exhaustion and hurricanes. But Dr Chuck McCutcheon, the head of training for Tadreeb, said more people should also learn first aid and not be afraid to help in the event of an accident.“There has been an urban myth here that if you are the last person to touch an accident victim who then dies, you are held responsible,” he said.
“That isn’t true; the UAE recognises that good Samaritans doing first aid and CPR can help keep someone alive before the emergency services arrive. But you should do only what you are trained to do and no more.”
The conference marked the launch of the Arabic translation of the Advanced Disaster Medical Response Manual for Providers, a training manual written in the United States and adopted by other countries. It outlines how ambulance crews, doctors, and other emergency responders should deal with large-scale incidents.
Dr Susan Briggs, who wrote the manual following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the US in 2001, said it had already been translated into two Chinese dialects, Polish and Spanish, and that French, Portuguese and Japanese versions were due to be published soon. “It is designed to train the multidisciplinary teams that are involved in disaster response – that means the ambulance crews, nurses, doctors and non-medical personnel.”She said teams of emergency responders in China who had trained with the manual were dealing with the aftermath of Monday’s devastating earthquake.
“The manual includes information on how to deal with a range of specific injuries and incidents, for example blast injuries from bombs – but you don’t come up with a separate disaster response plan for each type of incident. You come up with one disaster response plan and then adapt to the circumstances by drawing in the elements and people you need.”The two-day conference involves intensive training for emergency workers, several of whom will become qualified instructors, able to pass on what they have learnt to colleagues.