Friday, March 24, 2006

FILLER How to ~? #1.

Coping with disaster

Every day we read about disasters happening all over the world – a train crash in India, an earthquake in Japan, a hurricane in South Korea – and lives lost, loved ones left to grieve – how do people cope?

Please God, it will never happen to you. What to do if the unthinkable happens. What should you do if your building catches fire? Be prepared – minimize the damage – you are going to have to cope. Here’s what to do:-

· Before a crisis
Ø Plan ahead
Catastrophes can’t be predicted accurately, but if you live in a region in which hurricanes regularly occur, you should be ready for the big one blowing in. If you work at a school, develop plans to evacuate buildings or clear play areas swiftly and safely. Disasters surprise, but they should not confound. Be ready.

Ø Build networks and relationships
Establish links with emergency services BEFORE, not during, there won’t be time to look numbers up in phone books – systems will be down – know how to reach someone quickly.

Ø Clarify roles
Everybody should have a job to do if something hits – people running around like headless chickens doesn’t help anybody – victims need help urgently – know who has to do what, and have back up plans if that person is out.

Ø Prepare and meet
Establish an organized team to focus on what will need to be done in the event of the unthinkable happening. But don’t be morbid. If you have taken steps, you’ll be OK.
· During the crisis
Ø Assess the situation - keep calm
Keeping calm during terrible times is probably the hardest thing to do, but if you can manage it, you WILL save lives, and you WILL be in a position to assess what’s going on. Role play exercises can help find out who can cope and who can’t in a crisis.

Ø Deploy staff to cover critical areas
If everybody knows their responsibilities and carries them out, all areas and situations should be covered. Someone should be responsible for seeing everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing. Again role playing helps to clarify roles. Chaos adds to the danger.

Ø Ensure information is available
Information is vital during a crisis and yet it is often the first thing to break down. Ensure people know where to go to get what, and where to go for the different kinds of help needed – for medical help, as well as for information about people’s whereabouts.

Ø Educate staff about post traumatic stress disorder
If you are aware of it, you cam deal with it more effectively - recognizing it in others enables sufferers to receive treatment.

Ø Manage the media
Morale must be boosted during times of tragedy – messages should be constructive – tragic circumstances are not the time for recriminations. People cope more easily and more quickly if they cooperate.

Ø Communicate needs to relevant bodies
The plight of victims should be communicated swiftly and unambiguously to official bodies responsible for care giving and provision of emergency supplies.

· After the crisis
Ø Support long term healing
Continuous healing programs that acknowledge real and pressing needs and that take people’s feelings and opinions into account are vitally important in the months and even years after the initial disaster. Talk – Listen – Support
Ø Let others help you – help is a two-way thing – helping helps both parties.
Ø Take good care of all your needs – physical and emotional – eat well, get enough sleep, talk about your feelings, listen to others talk about theirs – realize you are not alone in what you are going through.
Ø Be patient – other people have problems too.
Ø Look after the children – let them know they are not responsible for anything
Ø Get some perspective – don’t expect too much too quickly.
Ø Support networks are vital – talk to neighbours and friends, and family.
Ø By action as well as by word – show you care – you can make a difference.

Ø Support memorials and donations
Memorials give people closure while still acknowledging the problem, they also reassure loved ones that others care. Donations are practical and necessary.

Ø Manage benchmark dates carefully
Don’t forget important anniversaries – forgetting sometimes seems like not caring.

Ø Handle physical reminders carefully
Remember that victims and their families are often sensitive a long time after the event – tread carefully – don’t ever hurt – nothing ever justifies it.

Robert L. Fielding


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