Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


How long to search? -- a review

How long to search? -- a review
of evidence from Haiti's quake

28 Feb 2011
In an effort to assist New Zealand-based rescue efforts, the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness has published a series of open-access articles reviewing evidence from Haiti's 2010 earthquake and other recent seismic disasters.

The featured article, 'Survival interval in earthquake entrapments' focuses on aiding decision-makers faced with the difficult task of weighing the potential survival of victims against the risks to rescue workers and the need to divert efforts to other essential rebuilding tasks.

Their work, which catalogues evidence from medical records and media reports of late rescues, highlights several key factors in determining the likelihood of survival, such as the crucial importance of void spaces in collapsed buildings, which may well be located at ground level or even below.

They also urge caution in reporting of dramatic survival tales, pointing out that the veracity of several of the most widely-publicised cases following Haiti's quake -- including a man who reportedly survived in the rubble of a marketplace for 27 days -- has been called into question. Some victims later admitted to re-entering buildings, becoming trapped several days after the initial quake.

An excerpt from the abstract:

Earthquakes can result in collapsed structures with the potential to entrap individuals. In some cases, people can survive entrapment for lengthy periods. The search for and rescue of entrapped people is resource intensive and competes with other post-disaster priorities. The decision to end search and rescue activities is often difficult and in some cases protracted.

Medical providers participating in response may be consulted about the probability of continued survival in undiscovered trapped individuals. Historically, many espouse a rigid time frame for viability of entrapped living people (eg, 2 days, 4 days, 14 days). The available medical and engineering data and media reports demonstrate a wide variety in survival "time to rescue," arguing against the acceptance of a single time interval applicable to all incidents.

The review article's authors, Andrew Macintyre, MD, Joseph Barbera, MD and Bruno Petinaux, MD -- all of George Washington University -- state:

"Decreasing the uncertainty of whether live survivors remain under the rubble requires an integrated interdisciplinary approach: structural engineering, technical and canine search, rescue, hazardous materials, and medical professionals may provide relevant input. Although this multidisciplinary approach may be intuitive, it must be recognized that the individuals making the authoritative decisions regarding transition to rescue are commonly governmental leaders in the affected area. ...

"In the experience of the authors, the search and rescue mode is unnecessarily extended in many situations by political leaders responding to public emotion, even with little realistic hope for additional survivors. ... It is important to recognize that decision making by government leaders may be influenced by politics, public confidence, and the media reporting of late "live finds." ...

"The veracity of any publicized late rescues should be rapidly investigated and if indicated, publicly corrected because this can have adverse effects on an otherwise responsible decision to end the search phase of an emergency response."

They go on to add:

"The evolving body of published data about entrapped victims suggests a significant variability in survival across earthquake experiences. Rather than proposing a simplified, absolute time limit for the entrapped individual's survival interval, a more cogent decision methodology should be developed that considers the factors presented in this article.

"The potential existence of void spaces is believed to be the most influential factor to incorporate into this decision support algorithm, followed by factors related to ventilation, available water (and to a lesser extent food), and then other considerations. ... Current understanding strongly supports the concept that projected survival time will vary from incident to incident and even location to location within an incident, and thus should not be based on an absolute number."

The full article can be accessed here. Contact the Science Media Centre for media contact details.


Note to editors

The Science Media Centre (NZ) is an independent source of expert comment and information for journalists covering science and technology in New Zealand. Our aim is to promote accurate, evidence-based reporting on science and technology by helping the media work more closely with the scientific community. The SMC (NZ) is an independent centre established by the Royal Society of New Zealand with funding from the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology. The views expressed in this Science Alert are those of the individuals and organisations indicated and do not reflect the views of the SMC or its employees. For further information about the centre, or to offer feedback, please email us at smc@sciencemediacentre.co.nz.

www.sciencemediacentre.co.nz


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Fossils: Ancient Penguins Lived Alongside Dinosaurs?

Penguins are much older than previously thought and their evolution probably dates back to the days of the dinosaurs, according to research on the fossilised leg bone and toes of a giant ancient penguin found in rocks near Waipara, North Canterbury. More>>

No Voda/Sky: Commission Declines Clearance For Merger

The Commerce Commission has declined to grant clearance for the proposed merger of Sky Network Television and Vodafone New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

EARLIER:

Power: IEA Report On New Zealand's Energy System

Outside of its largely low-carbon power sector, managing the economy’s energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions while still remaining competitive and growing remains a challenge. More>>

ALSO:

NASA: Seven Earth-Size Planets Around A Single Star

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water. More>>

ALSO:

Auckland Transport Case: Men Guilty Of Corruption And Bribery Will Spend Time In Jail

Two men who were found guilty of corruption and bribery in a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) trial have been sentenced in the Auckland High Court today... The pair are guilty of corruption and bribery offences relating to more than $1 million of bribes which took place between 2005 and 2013 at Rodney District Council and Auckland Transport. More>>

ALSO:

Hager Raid: Westpac Wrong To Release Bank Records To Police

The Privacy Commissioner has censured Westpac Banking Corp for releasing without a court order more than 10 months of bank records belonging to the political activist and journalist Nicky Hager during a police investigation into leaked information published in Hager's 2014 pre-election book, 'Dirty Politics'. More>>

ALSO:

EARLIER:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news