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Panic is the worst adviser during an earthquake

05 April 2013 / 15:04:48  GRReporter
3656 reads

Victoria Mindova

During a strong earthquake, you should not be seized with panic. Under no circumstances should you rush out of the building if you are unable to leave it in less than 10 seconds. Fire-fighting forces recommend that you should not run down the stairs or use the elevator because this could be fatal.

You should very quickly find out the safest place inside the house and stay there. You should find the most stable parts of a building that could protect you in case of a strong earthquake. Namely, these are the door frame, near the inner wall, a supporting column, under a stable table or a bed. If you are in the street, you should stay away from buildings and power poles.

If you are in a moving car during an earthquake, you should stop in an open, safe place and wait for the earthquake to stop. If you are using public transport, it is better to wait for the earthquake to stop inside the vehicle.

After the earthquake, you should leave as quickly as possible the place where you are not feeling safe. If you leave your house, you should switch off the current as well as the supply of gas and water.

This is the basic advice the fire-fighting forces give in case of an earthquake. Greece and the Balkan region as a whole are a highly seismic zone. One of the recent seismic disasters that Athenians remember was in 1999. Then, 143 people lost their lives and 50,000 were left homeless after an earthquake of 5.9 on the Richter scale. GRReporter presents the scheduled training of Greek fire-fighting forces in the event of a new devastating earthquake.

The men and women of the rescue teams from the region of Vari, Attica, demonstrated before the young cadets and the general public the techniques they use to rescue civilians in the event of a strong earthquake. They presented several scenarios related to the rescue of people buried under the debris of collapsed buildings. They demonstrated a rescue operation in real time and showed how to take the people out of the ruins and give them first aid.

"In no case should I be seized with panic," said an old fireman during the training. He had explained that fire-fighting forces are always ready and work closely with emergency teams to help out people trapped in ruined buildings. "Very often, the fire-fighting forces reach the scene before the medical teams. In this case, you should know that even if we have broken through and reached the citizen in trouble, we do not rush to take him out on a stretcher. The person could be injured or in shock. We take care to calm him or her down and we take him or her out of the ruins when the medical team is ready to give first aid."

The first demonstration showed how to extinguish a fire during an earthquake and then, how to take out of the ruins a citizen who is conscious and able to communicate with the rescue team. The fire-fighters master the firestorm first.

Then, they make sure which the safest access is and begin opening it up through the ruined concrete slabs. After the fire-fighters secure a safe access to the victim, they use additional supports to render the place safe. They put a splint around the neck of the victim in order to prevent further injury, stop the bleeding, if any, and one of them stays with the victim until the medical team arrives. Then, they take the victim away from the ruins on a special stretcher and the medical team takes care of him or her.

In the second and third demonstrations, the fire-fighting forces showed how to establish the location of people buried under massive concrete blocks in the absence of visibility. Even if the victim is unconscious, the rescue teams can establish the location of the victim with the help of specially trained dogs.

The dogs find the location of the people under the ruins. The fire-fighters mark the location. Then, they establish the state of the perimeter using acoustic measurements and start breaking the concrete in order to take out the victim.

The fourth demonstration showed how the fire-fighters save people who are blocked on the roof of a building or on a floor. After securing the victim, the fire-fighters bring him or her down to the ground using a special stretcher. Individuals, who are not injured, are attached by a safety belt to one of the fire-fighters who brings the person down to the rescue brigade on the ground.

"We are satisfied with the results achieved," said the head of the fire brigade at the end of the training. He believes that the special rescue teams are ready to respond quickly and effectively in the case of a seismic event.

Representatives of the voluntary civic team of the fire service in the municipality of Vari attended the demonstrations. They recommend that all individuals undergo the special training offered in the regional municipalities in order for every citizen to be trained to help someone in need during a disaster. Their only recommendation is that the state should insure the life of volunteers, which will secure their contribution in the event of an accident.

Tags: SocietyEarthquakeFire safetyRescue
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