Saturday, September 03, 2005

Disaster Planning

Last night I worked phone banks for 5 hours as a part of my state's medical reserve corps, which started after the Murrah Building bombing. I and my telefellows took calls from medical professionals who were interested in working with disaster victims.

The calls were interesting; we had a sprinkling of medical personnel, every type from embalmers and medical examiners to urologists and respiratory therapists, with the majority being nurses. These folks mostly stated they were ready to go with an hour's notice, and go where ever needed, in state or out of state, and at their own expense if necessary.

We also had a number of calls of people who had loaded vans ready to go to Mississippi or Louisiana and were calling us for what? The blessing of the state, I suppose, but bureaucracies don't tend to condone that sort of thing.

I enjoyed being a part of the process and seeing plans made and discarded and remade; frantic searches for safe places for large numbers of people to stay; calls from various city and state officials; calls to hospital administrators to find open hospital beds; and even the beginnings of long term planning.

With all the action, though, there were stretches where we waited, and then we talked.

It was surprising, the amount of "blame the victim" that went on. "I don't understand why everyone didn't leave." "I'd never let my kids go hungry." "Looters should all be shot. And we'll have to have people guarded while they're here because a lot of them will be looters."

I understand WHY people blame the victims -- it's fear. They cannot acknowledge the fear that bad things can happen to anyone. So "those people" must be different; not too bright, not able to solve problems, criminals, junkies...when the truth is that we could easily be in their shoes if something tremendous and horrible had happened here.


afp763389 said...

... :/

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Ned said...

I think blaming the victim is a lot about assuring ourselves that it cannot happen to us. There is a lot of blame going on right now, and strangely enough, blame isn't helping anyone.

The people you describe, including yourself, are helping. Trying to find a scapegoat won't save anyone.

Running2Ks said...

Blaming the victim is just wrong. Just awful. Helpers are the ones doing the right thing--and I'm glad you are one of them!

Gone Away said...

Funny how everyone knows exactly how the relief should have been done. Except those who were actually in a position to do anything about it, of course...

GC (God's Child) said...

yours has been one of the most helpful posts I've read about the disaster in New Orleans so far. Thanks for the perspective on the topic and for the info on sending packages.

jag said...

I'm glad I came on and looked at your post. I live with one of those "blame the victim" persons.
I couldn't understand why he would think that way. Fear! He says things like "if it were me I would have done whatever it took to get out of there..I wouldn't rely on someone to come along and save me"
HE wasn't there!