A Disaster Rescuer’s Tips Can Save Your Life in an Earthquake-Disputed!


Summary of eRumor:

An article from the pen of disaster rescuer Doug Copp.  He lists some of his observations from being on the scene after earthquakes and introduces what he calls “The Triangle of Life,” which he says can save lives during an earthquake.  He rejects the advice of traditional disaster experts and gives suggestions about what to do and where to be during an earthquake.

The Truth:

Doug Copp claims, as the eRumor states, to lead the “world’s most experienced rescue team” and that he’s crawled into 875 buildings in 60 countries to find trapped victims of disasters.

He argues that his experience has led him to conclude that the common suggestions of getting under a desk or standing in a doorway during an earthquake actually lead to more deaths.  Instead he lists several other suggestions such as simply rolling off a bed onto the floor if you are in bed or taking refuge next to a large sofa or chair when the earth starts moving.

Copp’s tips are based on some of his own observations but on scientific research and there are disaster experts who disagree with him.

The American Red Cross has written a response to Copp’s statements.  Ricky Lopes, manager of the American Red Cross’s Community Disaster Education, said Copp’s recommendations are “Inaccurate for application in the United States and inconsistent with information developed through earthquake research.”

  In a statement, Lopes said the American Red Cross’s recommendation is called “drop, cover, and hold on,” which includes getting under a heavy object such as a desk.  He said it is based on building codes in the United States and “has saved lives.”  CLICK HERE for more from the American Red Cross.

Dr. Marla Petal is director of the Bogazici University, Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute’s Disaster Preparedness Education Program in Turkey.  Her doctoral research was on the causes of death in the 1999 Kocaeli earthquake in Turkey, which killed more than 20,000 people.  She called the advice in the Doug Copp eRumor “plainly dangerous” and “worse than an urban legend.”   She said that there are indeed “triangles of life” in collapsed buildings where searchers look first for survivors—but that it is impossible to predict where those spaces will be.  She said, for example, that hiding next to a refrigerator or some other heavy object could be deadly because there is no way to anticipate which direction the object may move during a quake.  You could get crushed.  The same is true with automobiles.  She said that a strong earthquake will move and sometimes topple cars so simply getting out of the car and lying next to it does not create a dependable safety zone.

Copp also found himself a center of controversy especially after a series of articles in 2004 by the Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico.   Copp has claimed to have played a key role in rescue activities at Ground Zero in New York after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  He was granted more than $600,000 in compensation for what he said are injuries from the event, mostly toxicity.  The articles in the Albuquerque journal questioned both whether he played any important role at Ground Zero and whether he was eligible for any compensation for injury.  In a four-part series about Copp, the Journal quoted several people who saw Copp at Ground Zero as saying that he showed up with a video camera and did no serious rescue work.  The U.S. Justice Department fraud unit was investigating.

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:

I implore every one to read this article. It could save many lives.

F.Y.I. Where to be During an Earthquake

Remember that stuff about hiding under a table or standing in a doorway?? Well, this guy has a completely reverse opinion.This is very interesting, different from what we were all taught.

Boy! Is this ever an eye opener. Directly opposite of what we’ve been taught over the years! I can remember in school being told to, ‘duck and cover’ or stand in a doorway during an earthquake. This guy’s findings is absolutely amazing. I hope we all remember his survival method if we are ever in an earthquake!!!

Please read this and pass the info along to your family members; it could save their lives someday!


My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the
American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world’s most experienced
rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake.

I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams
from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a
member of many rescue teams from many countries..

I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years. I
have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for
simultaneous disasters.

The first building I ever crawled inside of was a school in Mexico City
during the 1985 earthquake. Every child was under its desk. Every child
was crushed to the thickness of their bones. They could have survived by
lying down next to their desks in the aisles. It was obscene, unnecessary and
I wondered why the children were not in the aisles. I didn’t at the time
know that the children were told to hide under something.

Simply stated, when buildings collapse, the weight of the ceilings
falling upon the objects or furniture inside crushes these objects, leaving a
space or void next to them. This space is what I call the ‘triangle of life’.
The larger the object, the stronger, the less it will compact. The less the
object compacts, the larger the void, the greater the probability that
the person who is using this void for safety will not be injured. The next
time you watch collapsed buildings, on television, count the ‘triangles’ you
see formed. They are everywhere. It is the most common shape, you will see,
in a collapsed building.


1) Most everyone who simply ‘ducks and covers’ WHEN BUILDINGS COLLAPSE are crushed to death. People who get under objects, like desks or cars, are crushed.

2) Cats, dogs and babies often naturally curl up in the fetal position.
You should too in an earthquake.. It is a natural safety/survival instinct. You can survive in a smaller void. Get next to an object, next to a sofa, next to a large bulky object that will compress slightly but leave a void next to it.

3) Wooden buildings are the safest type of construction to be in during
an earthquake. Wood is flexible and moves with the force of the earthquake.
If the wooden building does collapse, large survival voids are created.
Also, the wooden building has less concentrated, crushing weight. Brick
buildings will break into individual bricks. Bricks will cause many injuries but
less squashed bodies than concrete slabs.

4) If you are in bed during the night and an earthquake occurs, simply
roll off the bed. A safe void will exist around the bed. Hotels can achieve a
much greater survival rate in earthquakes, simply by posting a sign on The back of the door of every room telling occupants to lie down on the floor, next to the bottom of the bed during an earthquake.

5) If an earthquake happens and you cannot easily escape by getting out
the door or window, then lie down and curl up in the fetal position next to
a sofa, or large chair.

6) Most everyone who gets under a doorway when buildings collapse is
killed. How? If you stand under a doorway and the doorjamb falls forward or
backward you will be crushed by the ceiling above. If the door jam falls sideways you will be cut in half by the doorway. In either case, you will be killed!

7) Never go to the stairs. The stairs have a different ‘moment of
frequency’ (they swing separately from the main part of the building).
The stairs and remainder of the building continuously bump into each
other until structural failure of the stairs takes place. The people who get
on stairs before they fail are chopped up by the stair treads – horribly
mutilated. Even if the building doesn’t collapse, stay away from the
stairs. The stairs are a likely part of the building to be damaged. Even if the
stairs are not collapsed by the earthquake, they may collapse later when
overloaded by fleeing people. They should always be checked for safety,
even when the rest of the building is not damaged.

8) Get Near the Outer Walls Of Buildings Or Outside Of Them If Possible
– It is much better to be near the outside of the building rather than
the interior. The farther inside you are from the outside perimeter of the
building the greater the probability that your escape route will be

9) People inside of their vehicles are crushed when the road above falls
in an earthquake and crushes their vehicles; which is exactly what happened
with the slabs between the decks of the Nimitz Freeway.. The victims of
the San Francisco earthquake all stayed inside of their vehicles. They were
all killed. They could have easily survived by getting out and sitting or
lying next to their vehicles. Everyone killed would have survived if they had
been able to get out of their cars and sit or lie next to them. All the
crushed cars had voids 3 feet high next to them, except for the cars that had
columns fall directly across them.

10) I discovered, while crawling inside of collapsed newspaper offices
and other offices with a lot of paper, that paper does not compact.
Large voids are found surrounding stacks of paper.

Spread the word and save someone’s life… The Entire world is
experiencing natural calamities so be prepared!

‘We are but angels with one wing, it takes two to fly’

In 1996 we made a film, which proved my survival methodology to be
correct. The Turkish Federal Government, City of Istanbul , University of
Istanbul Case Productions and ARTI cooperated to film this practical, scientific
test. We collapsed a school and a home with 20 mannequins inside. Ten
mannequins did ‘duck and cover,’ and ten mannequins I used in my
‘triangle of life’ survival method. After the simulated earthquake collapse we
crawled through the rubble and entered the building to film and document the
results. The film, in which I practiced my survival techniques under
directly observable, scientific conditions , relevant to building collapse, showed there would have been zero percent survival for those doing duck
and cover.

There would likely have been 100 percent survivability for people using
my method of the ‘triangle of life.’ This film has been seen by millions
of viewers on television in Turkey and the rest of Europe , and it was seen
in the USA , Canada and Latin America on the TV program Real TV