Local response, independent solutions / Columns / The Foreigner

Local response, independent solutions. Ask not what your community can do for you, but what you can do for your community. Paraphrasing John F Kennedy resonates well today, especially for disasters. We all have responsibility to prepare ourselves for the worst. It is not just about having a family plan and knowing how to react as an individual. It is also about working with those around you--friends, neighbours, and people in the street.

climatechange, firstaid



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Local response, independent solutions

Published on Sunday, 25th August, 2013 at 22:14 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

Ask not what your community can do for you, but what you can do for your community.

Learn first aid and save a life
Learn first aid and save a life
Photo: Ilan Kelman


Paraphrasing John F Kennedy resonates well today, especially for disasters. We all have responsibility to prepare ourselves for the worst.

It is not just about having a family plan and knowing how to react as an individual. It is also about working with those around you--friends, neighbours, and people in the street.

Community disaster teams are used around the world, from Taiwan to Turkey. They suit Norway as well.

Community disaster teams train together, learning first aid, rescue from collapsed structures, water safety, and other basic emergency response skills. Team members keep equipment available, including hard hats, reflective jackets, first aid kits, and torches.

They are the immediate first responders in an emergency. They turn off water, electricity, and gas flows, triage casualties, and take care of setting up emergency shelters.

Why do we need these community responders? Because there is no guarantee that authorities or professional rescuers will turn up within an hour--or even within a week--of a major catastrophe. They might themselves be casualties, they might not be able to reach you, or they might be overwhelmed with requests.

Communities need to learn to be on their own. That includes assuming that mobile phones, taps, the internet, and our other day-to-day luxuries do not work.

The work goes beyond emergency response. Disaster preparedness begins with disaster prevention, meaning reducing vulnerability so that a storm or an earthquake does not become a calamity.

Learning first aid--moving people out of danger, staunching bleeding, and giving CPR--saves lives. It also gives the first aider confidence to take control of a situation, to help people under any circumstance, and to make one's community a better place to live in. That applies long before the bleeding starts or the heart stops.

It is as simple as dropping in to see an elderly neighbour who lives alone. It is as complicated as organising friends to clean up litter along the river or to patrol dark streets to prevent attacks. It is about community spirit and stewardship.

JFK also famously uttered "Ich bin ein Berliner", in solidarity with West Berlin's citizens. We can create solidarity with our own communities and make ourselves safer by creating community disaster reduction and disaster response teams.

Dr. Ilan Kelman is aSenior Research Fellowat the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research - Oslo (CICERO).



Published on Sunday, 25th August, 2013 at 22:14 under the columns category, by Ilan Kelman.

This post has the following tags: climatechange, firstaid.





  
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