Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Terrifying Triage of Haiti

If you are a first responder or above in training you know that what is now happening in Haiti is not one disaster but many simultaneously. First you had the first big earthquake of 7.0. Then you have had over 20 aftershocks which each had an average magnitude of 5.0 or above. So any buildings that weren't damaged during the first quake were likely damaged by one of the others. I have since I live in California been in several high 6 and at least one 7.0 or above quake and when it is that bad if it goes on very long you sort of feel like you are going to die. And if it goes on longer than 30 seconds you might wish you did. However, I have been scared pretty bad even by some 4.5 or 5s or above. Even a 4.5 can send the chandeliers swinging and throw pictures off the wall and break cups and dishes. Almost anyone during a 7.0 will be slightly injured if they are inside a building from banging against the walls or flying things. This is a given. This is even in California where there are stringent building codes to protect life and limb from building collapse.

So, now we are dealing with many already dead and dying and the hospitals are gone mostly. So, whatever hospital supplies at this point might have been crushed or walked off with. So, most of the real medical supplies that can help will have to arrive by plane or boat from other countries. The longer it takes for them to get there the worse it is going to get.

On top of this the people that were only injured and didn't die outright will now begin to die from infection and the grief of other family members and friends that have died. The other problem is that people who have lost loved ones will be out of their minds with grief. To not have food or water or any electricity accept that which is generated by private gas and diesel electric generators is horrifying in a place like that. So, the people who have lost relatives and friends who now don't have food or water start to seriously lose it. And if there are weapons, drugs, crime or other factors this only increases the problems for everyone. On top of that homeless people who were in the streets with nothing now might become looters or worse because there are no police or firemen on the job in Port au Prince at the moment. So, until the UN and the US and other nations establish martial law once again it is not safe for people from other countries or people from Haiti in Port au Prince. I don't remember any single situation with as many bad potentialities as this single one in my lifetime and I'm 61. If someone told me that 100,000 to 500,000 people will die within the next month or two in Port Au Prince I would not be surprised at all.

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