COPING WITH NATURAL DISASTERS: THE ROLE OF LOCAL HEALTH PERSONNEL AND THE COMMUNITY
( By A Working Guide (WHO - OMS, 1989) )

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Chapter 2. The tasks of the local health personnel Organizing the health centre or hospital to meet the emergency

As soon as possible after disaster has struck, all local health personnel should report to the health establishment where they usually work. The first task is to assess quickly any damage suffered by the establishment and its health facilities and to decide whether it can still be used or whether it would not be better to move its operational base to a less damaged building or to a temporary shelter (tent or other). If a move is necessary, a new health centre or hospital will quickly be established, use being made of any health equipment and material it has been possible to salvage.

Experience shows that during the first few hours it is above all relatives, friends and local volunteers who bring the injured to the health establishment. Preparations to receive them must be made by setting aside a space where the local health personnel can screen them to determine what care they require, while the volunteers concern themselves with receiving them on arrival.

When there are enough local health personnel to receive the injured at the health establishment, one or more health posts can be established where rescue work is being undertaken and at which first aid can be given to the rescued before they are carried to the health centre or hospital.

The local health personnel can also act before a victim is extricated, for example by applying a tourniquet when the person concerned has had a leg or arm crushed or has lost all feeling in fingers and toes (thus preventing the “crush syndrome”).

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