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.
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.