Disaster Response: How does Medical Teams International prepare for and respond to disasters?
Adapt these questions for use in public schools, Christian schools, other private schools, homeschools, and other groups. Correct responses in blue.
1. In the following list of disasters, write natural (N) next to each disaster that is a natural disaster, write man-made (M) next to each that is a man-made disaster, and epidemic (E) next to each that is an epidemic disaster:
|_________ Drought |
_________ HIV and AIDS
|_________ Nuclear accidents |
_________ Oil spills
2. Where in the world are these kinds of disasters happening today? Give specific examples.
3. How does Medical Teams International prepare for disaster?
4. How does Medical Teams International respond to disaster?
5. What are the three phases of disaster response?
6. What is involved in the relief phase of disaster response? Where is relief work occurring today?
PHASE 1: RELIEF
Goal: Save lives
- Send medical teams
- Treat illness and injury
- Ship medicines and supplies
- Prevent outbreaks of disease
- Support responses by in-country partners
7. What is involved in the recovery phase of disaster response? Where is recovery work occurring today?
PHASE 2: RECOVERY
Goal: Return to “normal” life, what life was like before the disaster
- Send medical, dental, and work teams
- Support community health programs:
- immunization coverage
- diarrhea disease control
- malaria prevention and treatment
- Rebuild community health systems
- Send trauma counselors
- Resupply clinics and hospitals
- Strengthen capacity of in-country partners to provide long-term solutions
- Reconstruct housing
8. What is involved in the development phase of disaster response?
PHASE 3: DEVELOPMENT
Goal: Improve lives
Many of the people who suffer disasters lived at the edge of poverty before the disaster happened. The goal of development is to improve their lives in basic ways.
- Send specialized teams to address specific needs
- Send medicines and supplies
- Train local healthcare workers
- Create/improve emergency medical response systems
- Improve community health systems
- Reduce vulnerability to future disasters
9. How is Medical Teams International responding?
10. True or false:
The needs after disasters are often so great that almost anyone can go to a disaster site to help.
False: When disaster strikes, we all want to help. But most disasters are complex and require specialized response. Well-intentioned help from unskilled people may only add to the chaos of a disaster. Our volunteers, especially the first-response teams, are experienced medical professionals who can assess needs, map out relief strategies, and interact effectively with community leaders, local officials, and other nongovernmental agencies.
People affected by disasters are too dazed and shocked to help themselves and others.
False: After disasters, survivors often rush to aid other victims, despite their own shock and suffering. Even those overcome by fear reach out to help others when they hear their cries for help. Whenever appropriate, we encourage disaster victims to participate in their own relief and recovery.
The best response to a disaster is to send in rescue teams immediately.
False: The best response is (1) to help local people respond, (2) to gather good information about what kind of help is really needed, and (3) then to send volunteer disaster teams to help local people meet real needs. A hasty response not based on a careful evaluation of the needs can make things worse by sending the wrong type of help and contributing to the chaos.
The best way to help children who have been orphaned in a disaster is to adopt them.
False: The best response is to help children stay in their local communities. In most cases, extended families, friends, and neighbors will take them in. Of the 10,000 children orphaned in the Asian tsunami, all but 60 children had been adopted locally within two months.
When disaster survivors have lost everything, the best response is to send them used clothing.
False: Well-meaning people often want to send clothing, but that often proves to be ineffective: (1) the shipping costs of sending the clothing is very high, and (2) the clothing may not be appropriate for the climate, the culture, or the needs of the people. The best response is to send money so that local responders can buy clothing and other items that truly meet the people’s needs.
Think about it
- How can you make a difference by giving, acting, praying, or volunteering?
- If you had $100, how would you use it to help people?
- If you could choose any profession, what would you become in order to make a difference in our world?
- You can pray for people affected by disaster [PDF].
Imagine that you are the leader of a humanitarian aid organization and that you need to design a response to a disaster. How would you do it? Click here for disaster simulation lesson plan »