Photo Essay: Disaster Simulation Prepares Communities for the Worst

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin

Imagine a hurricane has just swept across your rural village, toppling trees, blowing roofs off houses, and flooding streets.  As you rush to check on family and friends you discover a number of people who are trapped under fallen trees or stuck in a muddy ravine.  There are no emergency services and your village does not have a health clinic to treat even basic injuries.  What would you do?

This is a hypothetical situation, but it happens all the time in places where World Concern works.  We believe in helping vulnerable communities, like the one described above, become better prepared for future crises and disasters with the goal of saving lives.  We aim to replace feelings of fear and helplessness, with feelings of empowerment and confidence.

During the last week of July, World Concern coordinated a three day training on first aid, and search and rescue techniques for 24 community volunteers, or ‘brigadiers,’ in southern Haiti.  These volunteers are ordinary people who want to better serve their families and communities.  Here’s a look at this important training and some of the people we met.

Rope Tie for Blog Aug2014

Volunteers learn how to tie a variety of different knots that can be used to rescue a person or move an obstacle.

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Ready…one, two, three!

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Making their “victim” comfortable, yet secure. They are practicing maneuvering the victim out of a ravine.

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Teamwork!  Working in coordination, two rescuers pull the stretcher and victim, while four others guide it.

rosemarie with rope1

“I chose to be a brigadier because there were a lot of people in my community that were affected by catastrophes,” shared Rosemarie (above) who is a mother and has been a volunteer in her community since 2010.  “There are many difficulties for the victims to recover after a catastrophe so I felt the responsibility and decided to be a volunteer to help my community.”

Baby CPR Fb Aug2014

Even basic first aid knowledge can save lives.  Many of these volunteers’ communities do not have a clinic or hospital so they are the first responders before help arrives or a medical facility can be reached.

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Volunteers learned how important it is to protect the head when transporting victims. Practice makes perfect!

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And their off!

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“I was interested in becoming a brigadier because if someone has a need in my area, I want to help,” said Paul Joseph (orange shirt), a 34-year-old father of two.  “Everyone in my community knows who the brigadiers are and how we can help.”

“I think with the training we’ve done, when accidents happen now we can give first aid to people so they can live,” he continued.

preparing for simulation1In the final day of training, the volunteers participated in a emergency simulation, putting to the test everything they learned throughout the week.  In the simulation, some volunteers played the role of a “victim” and their injury or condition was written on a piece of paper which was placed on their body.  The rescuers had to find the victims, determine what condition they were in, and decide the best way to ensure their safety.  Here, volunteers are prepped and given tools for the simulation.

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After carefully removing the brush from on top of the victim, volunteers evaluate this man who hurt his leg.

helping victim walk1

After deciding that the victim could be transported, the team placed on a brace on his leg and helped him to the “medical station.”

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Rosemarie was another victim in the simulation.  Here a volunteer tries to revive her and another gives instructions.  Hang in there Rosemarie!

carrying girl on stretcher2

Thanks to some great CPR and delicate care, it appears Rosemarie will make it and is on her way to the medical station.

rosemarie portrait1“It is important for more people to know (about first aid and search and rescue) because when more people know, we will have less victims too,” said Rosemarie.  “If more people know, we will have less people die.  Less victims.”

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The victims were all found, treated and carried to the medical station.  Great job everyone!

Now these volunteers have the skills and knowledge needed to be active participants in their community when a crisis or disaster comes.  These are important and significant investments in communities and will help reduce vulnerability and save lives.  For more information on our disaster risk reduction work, click here.

Published by

Austin Snowbarger

Austin Snowbarger

Austin is serving as a communications liaison in Haiti. He and his wife Martha share stories, photos, and videos of World Concern’s work in Haiti here and on their blog, Echoes of Hope.

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